New California Sexual Harassment Training Law Approved by Governor Brown

On October 1, 2018 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1343, which amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) to require non-managerial employees to receive bi-annual training on the prevention of sexual harassment, gender identity issues and the prevention of abusive conduct in the workplace by January 1, 2020 (or within six months of assuming their position).

On October 1, 2018 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1343 

Although this sweeping change is sure to be burdensome for employers, organizations can rest somewhat easier on the grounds that the required training for non-managerial employees will only be one hour in duration (as opposed to the two hour requirement currently in place). Please take note that managers and supervisors will still be required to receive bi-annual sexual harassment training as has been the case in the past.

The new requirement is part of a series of sweeping changes to California’s FEHA 

The new requirement is part of a series of sweeping changes to California’s FEHA, that are in accord with changes that went into effect in New York and other states. The new training requirements are just one component of those laws.

In response to these changes Syntrio is well prepared to offer your employees both industry-leading sexual harassment training for California managers and a one-hour course that covers the needs of non-managerial employees. In the coming months we will be rolling out a completely refreshed California non-manager course that will truly set the standard for interactive online training in this industry.

Contact Syntrio to schedule a demonstration of our California courseware.

Syntrio invites you to contact us to schedule a demonstration of our California (and other state) courseware with one of our representatives at your earliest convenience. It is never too early to get a head start on fulfilling your requirement for California training, especially given the California legislature’s comment that those employees who receive training by January 1, 2019 will not have to re-train when at the January 2020 deadline!

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


California Sexual Harassment Training Requirements May Soon Broaden

Always a leader in employee-friendly legislation, California could not be undone by the recent New York City and New York State training requirements aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. Indeed, on May 30, 2018, the California State Senate passed SB 1343, which seeks to broaden sexual harassment training requirements already in place under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). already in place under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

California may soon require ALL employees to receive training 

Should SB 1343 be signed into law (and there is no indication it will not sometime this summer) California would require all employees in workplaces larger than 5 employees to receive bi-annual two-hour training on sexual harassment prevention, abusive conduct in the workplace, and bystander intervention by 2020. The current requirement is limited to supervisory employees in workplaces employing 50 or more employees. Such a move would obviously be significant, as it would create an onerous requirement on employers to scramble for new training and force existing providers to adjust their programs to fit the new needs of an exponential number of new small businesses were the bill to pass.

As always, Syntrio remains ahead of the curve on these matters, and is already well into development on revised versions of our AB1825 courseware and a new, non-managerial employee version of the course. Although we recommend providing all employees training as a matter of company policy, obviously the California legislature’s attempt to take matters into its own hands is forcing the issue.

Stay tuned to Syntrio’s blog for further updates on this developing story. 

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


 

Minnesota State Legislature Aims to Make Sweeping Changes to Sexual Harassment Laws

The wave of sexual harassment and #MeToo legislation does not appear to be cresting anytime soon, as Minnesota is the latest state with employers in its crosshairs. After months of debate, the Minnesota state legislature seeks to enact a series of laws that would make sweeping changes to the State’s sexual harassment laws. Despite their best intentions, you should keep in mind that when these sorts of changes occur they are never good for the employer.

Minnesota Seeks to Eliminate “Severe and Pervasive” Standard

The first proposed change to Minnesota’s sexual harassment law is an elimination of the decades-old “severe and pervasive” standard for evaluating misconduct that is arguably harassing. Under the current standard, in order to be sexual harassment, conduct must be “unwelcome or unwanted, offensive to a reasonable person, and severe and/or pervasive in nature.” This means that simple jokes and offensive comments that are one off do not generally constitute workplace harassment. Were Minnesota to get its way this year, every comment or incident of inappropriate behavior could be grounds for a harassment claim.

Important to note, the proposed legislative change has been met with severe opposition from the business community and local governments, which [correctly] claim changing the law will lead to a wave of litigation and unnecessary financial burden. With any luck, the legislature will see the danger in adding this new language to Minnesota’s already stringent statutory prohibition on sexual harassment and will keep the status quo to help employers avoid a new wave of litigation.

Non-Disclosure Language in Sexual Harassment Suits in Jeopardy

Another important proposed change seeks to eliminate non-disclosure language in sexual harassment settlement agreements. This proposed change tracks similar legislation in New York and California and is aimed at making incidents more high-profile and public. The current majority of sexual harassment settlement agreements include confidentiality language prohibiting both parties from disparaging one another in the event the parties reach a settlement on a claim of sexual harassment. This is standard language that keep the matter private and avoids big press on incidents. Should the proposed change pass, employers would no longer be able to bargain for non-disclosure. This sort of language will likely cause settlement figures to drop and more cases to go to trial, as employers will be less likely to provide compensation knowing they will likely be all over the news and deemed “guilty” without even going to trial.

We strongly recommend consulting with our representatives to learn more about the training resources Syntrio offers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Syntrio’s subject matter experts are well in tune with changes to the law, and can help you and your company craft a plan of prevention that suits your business needs, no matter its size. We invite you to contact us today at 888-289-6670 or by filling out the online form available here.

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.

2016 Brings New California Employment Discrimination Law Challenges

As 2015 comes to a close and we prepare to turn the calendar to 2016, employers must prepare for some important changes coming to California’s employment discrimination laws. This post will briefly cover two of the major changes to California’s discrimination and retaliation laws that prompt further training for your managers and employees in the coming year.

Protection for Family Members When an Employee Engages in a Protected Activity

Assembly Bill 1509 is effective January 1, 2016, and adds new protection for family members of employees who complain of discrimination or unsafe working conditions. This law is relevant to employers who employ multiple family members, or have client dealings wherein family members interact.

AB 1509 impacts management training directly, in that retaliation and discrimination training must cover situations where familial relationships cross over into the workplace. Many managers simply will not consider the fact that a refusal to deal with family members of an employee who has made a discrimination complaint will violate the law. In reality, AB 1509 can create liability for companies whose managers take these types of actions.

Protection from Retaliation Related to Disability or Religious-Belief Accommodation

Assembly Bill 987 (also effective January 1, 2016) prohibits employers from taking retaliatory or discriminatory action against those employees who request an accommodation for a disability or religious custom or observance, regardless of whether the accommodation was actually granted.

AB 987 has the practical effect of making a request for accommodation engagement in a protected activity, regardless of whether the request is granted or not. While this seems technical in nature, the application of this new law will have implications on retaliation and discrimination lawsuits in California, as many managers still believe that when a request is denied for good reason there can be no retaliation or discrimination. Managers need to be trained that policies must be revised to reflect that all employees making requests for accommodation must be treated equally.

As you can see, two seemingly minor changes in California discrimination law can have a major impact on the way the law will be applied. If it has been some time since your company has conducted California discrimination and harassment training , the beginning of 2016 could not be a better time to do so.

Syntrio is committed to helping employers avoid the costly mistakes (and associate litigation) that are associated with complicated areas of employment law. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our prevention of discrimination in the workplace courses for management and remember to follow us on Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your company!

 

Truck Drivers Win $240,000 in Religious Discrimination Suit After Refusal to Deliver Alcoholic Beverages

Two former truck drivers requested religious accommodation to refrain from delivering alcoholic beverages based on their Muslim Faith in 2009. The employer rejected the assertion and fired the drivers, leading to a lawsuit that recently culminated in a $240,000 (plus back pay) verdict in favor of the two employees. The jury found that the employees’ request for accommodation would not have imposed undue hardship on the business.

Important to the jury’s finding, the company admitted that the employees frequently switched assignments, which provided clear evidence that it would have been reasonable to accommodate the drivers’ request, rather than terminate their employment.

Religious Discrimination Lawsuits Gaining Prevalence

This lawsuit is the most recent in a string of anti-Muslim and faith-based discrimination lawsuits in the employment law arena. These suits have brought to light the need for employers to conduct full-scale training courses to ensure that managers are well educated in the law and how it applies to situations involving requests for accommodation. All too often employers are quick to reassign or terminate employees who make religious requests that do not conform to the beliefs the managers hold, or seem to impose difficulty on schedule making or other day-to-day operations.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and state fair employment laws prohibit discrimination in employment decisions based on sincerely held religious beliefs. As part of the anti-discrimination laws, employers are required to accommodate reasonable requests that do not impose undue hardship on the business (a difficult standard to pass). Because the law protects even unconventional religions, employers are often faced with the difficult decision of accommodating an unorthodox request or facing a lawsuit.

Syntrio’s Training Courses Prepare You for the Unexpected

Syntrio’s discrimination and harassment training courses provide time-sensitive and cost-effective religious discrimination training through real-life and hypothetical situations that your managers can relate to. After providing a foundation in the law and a framework for how these types of cases arise, your managers will view a series of vignettes and some text-based scenarios illustrating nuances in the law that can lead to costly lawsuits. After doing so, your managers will be better prepared to make the tough calls on religious and other accommodation requests, and reduce the likelihood that the company will face liability and wind up in court.

Syntrio is committed to helping employers avoid the costly mistakes (and costly litigation) that are associated with complicated areas of employment law. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business.  Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our prevention of discrimination in the workplace courses for management and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that impact your company!