EMPLOYMENT LAW – HARASSMENT – CALIFORNIA

California Sexual Harassment Training

Syntrio’s employment law courses comply with California’s mandatory training requirements, from EEOC-compliance guidelines, landmark cases, and federal sentencing guidelines to applicable federal and state regulations.

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California Harassment Training

California’s sexual harassment law is the most employee-friendly body of employment law and anti-discrimination law in the United States. In addition to the need for compliance with federal employment law, California employers must be aware of California sexual harassment training, workplace harassment training requirements, and specific state laws directed at combatting discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Important to note the employment laws in California contain far greater protections for employees than those contained within the federal body of employment law. To fully understand workplace harassment law in California and fully comply with California sexual harassment training requirements, it is also necessary to understand the broad scope of federal anti-discrimination law and its impact on California sexual harassment law.

Syntrio - Leader in Workplace and Sexual Harassment Training Since 2005

Syntrio’s California US Workplace Harassment Training (5th Edition)

  • Experienced: Developing workplace harassment training since 2002 and California harassment training since 2005.
  • Compliant: Complies with all relevant California regulatory requirements, including abusive conduct and 2021 updates; a course timer ensures learners meet the minimum training time 
  • Engaging: Engages learners with short, live-action stories and practical exercises. 
  • Comprehensive: Addresses all required topics plus contemporary issues – workplace relationships, bystander intervention, diversity, equity, and inclusion. 
  • Flexibility: Versions for managers (2 hrs) and non-managers (1 hr); other versions that incorporate California with additional state training for easier deployment for multi-state businesses. 
  • Industries: Six industry verticals, including office/general, healthcare, industrial, hospitality, retail, and higher education. 

Federal Harassment Law

Federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and other forms of workplace harassment. The most notable federal employment law covering discrimination and harassment in the workplace is Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964, which covers employers who employ or have employed 15 or more employees for each working day in 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. In addition to prohibiting employment discrimination, courts have held that Title VII prohibits harassment in the workplace, which in recent years has become a key focus of attention on federal anti-discrimination laws and other related employment laws (including an increased emphasis on mandatory workplace harassment training and sexual harassment training).

Under the national employment law scheme, harassment in the workplace is a form of discrimination that occurs when unwelcome conduct (such as verbal sexual harassment or physical, sexual harassment) that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity or pregnancy), national origin, age (over 40), disability occurs. Harassment in the workplace becomes illegal where: a) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or b) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile or intimidating work environment that a reasonable person would consider hostile or abusive.

As important as learning what workplace harassment is, it is also essential to understand that workplace harassment (including sexual harassment at work) does not include petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents. Unless severe, such trial verbal sexual comments or other offensive behavior may not rise to the level of illegal harassment in the workplace.

California Sexual Harassment Law

In addition to the illegality of employment discrimination and workplace harassment under federal employment laws, sexual harassment is illegal under the California anti-discrimination and California sexual harassment law, known as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). The FEHA is an employment law prohibiting workplace harassment in California and requires employers to conduct California sexual harassment training.

Significantly, sexual harassment in the workplace laws in California differs somewhat from federal anti-discrimination laws. In addition to other protected classes, such as marital status, California enacted a specific Government Code section 12923, which limits the need for misconduct to be “severe and/or pervasive.” Instead, California’s anti-discrimination law only requires “the harassment so altered working conditions as to make it more difficult to do the job.” As such, employers must pay specific attention to California’s sexual harassment law and California’s employment laws to distinguish between federal employment law and federal anti-discrimination law in making choices to fulfill California workplace harassment training and sexual harassment training requirements.

Categories of Workplace Harassment

Under federal and California workplace harassment laws, there are two categories of workplace harassment. They include:

“Hostile Work Environment harassment,” which refers to unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex that is either severe or pervasive such that they unreasonably interfere with an employee’s work performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment that alters the conditions of employment; and

“Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment” occurs when a job or promotion is explicitly or implicitly conditioned on an applicant or employee’s submission to sexual advances or other conduct based on sex.

No matter the type of sexual harassment, workplace sexual harassment is a severe issue in California, and protections extend to applicants, employees, unpaid interns, professional relationships, and independent contractors. Likewise, mandatory training requirements for California workplace harassment training and California sexual harassment training apply to most (if not all) of the workforce in California.

Syntrio Employment Law - Harassment & Discrimination eLearning and Training Courses

EMPLOYMENT LAW: HARASSMENT AND DISCRIMINATION COURSE

Meal & Rest Break Training
Understanding the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Wage & Hour Basics
CORRECTIVE ACTION
Avoiding Wrongful Termination
Employee Discipline

Employment Discrimination: Maintaining a Fair Workplace
Employment Discrimination: Sex
Employment Discrimination: Race, Color, and National Origin
Employment Discrimination: Religion
Employment Discrimination: Age
Employment Discrimination: Disability
Employment Discrimination: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Creating a Bully-Free Workplace

Festival Time
The Job Interview
Up or Out
Unpleasant News
An Open Position

US Workplace Harassment 5th Edition
Bystander Awareness and Intervention for Chicago
Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment
Preventing Sexual Harassment
Preventing Workplace Harassment
Workplace Harassment and Bullying: Managing Threats to a Respectful Work Culture
California Preventing Workplace Harassment
Connecticut Sexual Harassment Training for Employees
Delaware Preventing Sexual Harassment
Illinois Preventing Sexual Workplace Harassment
Maine Preventing Sexual Harassment
New York Preventing Sexual Harassment
Campus Aware: Sexual Violence Prevention
Harassment: Ensuring a Respectful Workplace
Preventing Unlawful Harassment for Colleges and Universities
Preventing Unlawful Workplace Harassment for Federal Agencies
Multi-Jurisdiction Preventing Workplace Harassment
Canada Harassment and Violence at Work
US Workplace Harassment - Chicago

Speak Up - Feeling Uncomfortable A
Speak Up - Feeling Uncomfortable B
Speak Up - Harassment A
Speak Up - Harassment B
Speak Up - Health and Safety
Speak Up - Offensive Remark A
Speak Up - Offensive Remark B
Speak Up - Something Missing

The Viral Email
Jack and Dani Went Up a Hill
Third-Party Harassment
Making a Complaint
Making a Complaint 2
The Panda
Talking Sports
Unexpected Consequences
An Open Position
Workplace Disrespect?
A Very Important Client
A Very Important Client (B)
A Very Important Client (C)
Social Tony
Too Close for Comfort (A)
Too Close for Comfort (B)
Bullying
Workplace Harassment
Sexual Harassment

Legal Aspects of Interviewing and Hiring

Preventing Unlawful Retaliation in the Workplace

Retaliation
Rocking the Boat

Managing Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Good Practices in Conducting Investigations
Assisting with Investigations for Managers

ABUSIVE CONDUCT STANDARD

In 2015, California amended its anti-discrimination law to require all California employers subject to the mandatory California sexual harassment training requirement to include a component preventing “abusive conduct.” Notably, the “abusive conduct” (bullying and harassment in the workplace) amendment did not create a new protected category or make abusive conduct illegal; instead, it amended only the training requirement to add a component to mandatory training conducted for compliance with California harassment training requirements.

Under the 2015 change to the California anti-discrimination law, “abusive conduct” is defined as “conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.” California’s definition of abusive conduct amounts to bullying and harassment. Still, the state gives examples that abusive conduct may include “repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance.”

California Sexual Harassment Training Requirements

Since 2006, under the California anti-discrimination law, California employers have been required to provide mandatory anti-harassment training on preventing sexual harassment and sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. The California sexual harassment training requirements have evolved in recent years, and obligations for providing California sexual harassment training, discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and bullying and workplace harassment training have increased since 2020.

Under California employment law, all public and private organizations with five or more employees must provide mandatory training on harassment in the workplace (and the prevention of discrimination) at least once every two years. Among those who must receive California harassment training are managers and non-supervisory employees. It is also recommended (but not required) that interns and seasonal employees be provided training on preventing discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

Workplace harassment training in California must have a minimum duration of two hours for supervisory employees and one hour for non-supervisory employees. Records of sexual harassment prevention training must be kept for at least two years. California sexual harassment law requires mandatory training to contain the following categories of information:

  • Federal and state employment law statutory provisions and case law concerning the prohibition against sexual harassment in the workplace;
  • Examples of conduct that can be considered workplace sexual harassment;
  • Remedies and resources available to victims of discrimination and harassment in the workplace;
  • Strategies to prevent workplace sexual harassment;
  • Supervisor responsibilities to prevent harassment in the workplace;
  • A statement of the illegality of employment discrimination;
  • Practical examples of workplace sexual harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation;
  • A link to the employer’s sexual harassment policy, which the learner must acknowledge having read;
  • Bystander intervention training is encouraged but not required.

In addition to following all California sexual harassment training requirements for the content, employers must have a qualified “trainer” (an attorney, human resources professional, professor or instructor, or workplace harassment prevention consultant) to be available to answer questions about California sexual harassment law and mandatory training content, as well as questions that may generally arise about sexual harassment at work. Trainers must maintain a copy of all inquiries received for two years.

Acceptable Modes of Complying with California Sexual Harassment Training Requirements

California’s anti-discrimination law and implementing regulations identify the acceptable means of providing anti-harassment training. The following are prescribed methods of complying with your obligation to provide sexual harassment prevention training:

  • “In-person” California sexual harassment training is offered live by an instructor qualified as described in California employment law;
  • “eLearning” training is interactive, computerized training created by a qualified trainer and instructional designer. Importantly, employers who provide this type of workplace harassment training shall instruct employees to contact a qualified California sexual harassment trainer who can answer the question within two days.
  • “Webinar” training is an internet-based seminar created and taught by a trainer qualified to provide California harassment training.
  • “California’s anti-discrimination regulations describe other interactive training” as “use of audio, video or computer technology in conjunction with classroom, webinar and/or eLearning training. These, however, are additional tools that cannot, by themselves, fulfill the requirements of this subdivision.
Sexual Harassment in California - Syntrio Online Compliance Training

US Mandatory Harassment Training 

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STATE-MANDATED TRAINING LAWS

Several states have enacted mandatory training laws that require employers to provide sexual harassment training to their managers and employees.

Click on each state to learn more about Syntrio’s sexual harassment training products dedicated to exceeding compliance with mandatory training laws in each state. You will also learn about the requirements in that particular jurisdiction.

Why Syntrio’s Compliance Training is Your Best Source for Sexual Harassment Training And Workplace Harassment Training Laws in California

Syntrio has been the leader in workplace harassment training in California for over 20 years.

Since its inception in the anti-discrimination and workplace harassment training market over 20 years ago, Syntrio has been aware that it needs to be different to help employers not only comply with sexual harassment in the workplace laws in California but also to help employers empower their workforce to speak up and make an actual difference in workplace culture. The first harassment training laws were enacted in the early 1990s when Syntrio began developing content intended to assist employers in educating their workforces on employment law, workplace harassment, and employment discrimination (including in California). Following California’s harassment training mandate in the mid-2000s, there was an explosion of activity in this area as organizations scrambled to find “check the box” compliance training (mainly to bolster defense in the event litigation commenced) or no training at all.

The Syntrio approach to California Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace Training is Different.

While the drive to provide workplace harassment training has not changed, expert views on the type and focus of training have. Many of our competitors continue to provide “check the box” California sexual harassment training that was primarily provided before the #MeToo era and aimed at combating the harmful effects of an incident of harassment in the workplace. This workplace harassment training focused on illegal sexual harassment and how companies could avoid liability rather than actual incident prevention and improve workplace culture. Syntrio knows legalistic, compliance-focused training does not resonate with employees and has researched what works.

The solutions that help to improve workplace culture and help reduce the number of incidents of workplace harassment involve a full-scale program of civility and respect training. It is essential to provide training that complies with California sexual harassment law. Still, it is also necessary to let your workforce know that you care about their well-being. Therefore, a speak up and listen up a program aimed at empowering your workforce to report incidents is a critical aspect of any California sexual harassment training program. Additionally, employers must provide training that teaches employees to respect one another and demonstrates the organization’s respect for its workforce. In addition to understanding what illegal sexual harassment is, employees must understand one another’s sensitivities and the organization’s understanding that everyone has individual needs.

Syntrio Continues to Innovate

As the 2010s closed, significant legislation and legislative recommendation left nearly half of the United States under a mandate or official guidance that some or all employees receive sexual harassment training. Although this increase was expected to continue, the pandemic slowed legislative development in this area. Nevertheless, Syntrio continued forging a new method of helping employers comply with California sexual harassment training requirements and uses its depth of knowledge and expertise in the area to set itself apart from the competition by providing depth and breadth of employment law training that is cohesive as a component of an overall training strategy aimed at cultural improvement for the benefit of the employee.

The pillars of our harassment training program involve the following:

Workplace Civility & Respect Training
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Training
Employment Discrimination and Workplace Fairness Training
California Sexual Harassment Training
Speak Up and Listen Up Training

California sexual harassment training should not occur once every year or every two years. Instead, it should be a consistent program that demonstrates the organization’s commitment to the health and safety of its employees. By providing training that goes above and beyond the legal requirements that may be present in a state, the organization can show its workforce that it not only cares that they do not face liability for an incident but are committed to improving workplace culture and respecting the loyalty, its workforce has shown by respecting and caring for the well-being of everyone working within the organization.

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