Going Above and Beyond Sexual Harassment Training Requirements for California

In October 2017, the #MeToo movement opened the eyes of millions worldwide to the devastating and lasting impacts of sexual harassment in the workplace and beyond. While all states have some form of law that makes sexual harassment in the workplace illegal, most only require training for supervisors. In the wake of #MeToo, more states like California are implementing bills that mandate sexual harassment training for all employees and employers, even in the private sector. With the deadline for meeting the California Sexual Harassment Training requirements quickly approaching, you must ensure your training goes above and beyond.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in California?

Some individuals might think that what constitutes sexual harassment is obvious. However, it would be detrimental to assume that everyone knows what qualifies as harassment. Perhaps you’ve sat in a large conference room watching a training video with co-workers, or you’ve seen that very uncomfortable episode of The Office. Whatever your level of knowledge, California takes sexual harassment seriously, as well they should. The state is taking steps to ensure that all employers and non supervisory employees know the signs of sexual harassment and are empowered to prevent it. Here are just some examples of sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • Derogatory comments, slurs, epithets, or jokes;
  • Employment offers or other benefits in exchange for sexual favors;
  • Leering or rude gestures;
  • Graphic comments, sexually degrading words, sexually suggestive or obscene messages or invitations;
  • Unwanted touching, such as back rubs, pats on the butt, pinching, or “accidental” brushes against your chest or other parts of your body.

Our California Anti-Harassment Training Course meets all the requirements of California law. Purchase your course here.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Training Your Supervisors

Mandated Actions Against Harassment

As far back as 1964, California law has made workplace sexual harassment illegal. Through the years, the state has continued taking a progressive lead in regulating how businesses handle sexual harassment allegations, take actionable steps to prevent it, and ensure exceptional training for all associates.

  1. Create Policy and Procedure

Developing policies and procedures that meet California Sexual Harassment guidelines is the first action step against harassment. California regulations mandate that it is the responsibility of employers to create an environment in the workplace that is free from harassment. Policies and procedures must address the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Additionally, they need to create a process that ensures the correct handling of sexual harassment complaints, such as confidentiality and response time.

  1. Distribute Literature 

Sexual Harassment Law in California mandates that employers provide literature on preventing sexual harassment to all staff. To meet this requirement, executives must distribute government drafted or approved brochures and materials on sexual harassment. You can access The Facts About Sexual Harassment pamphlet on the DFEH website. However, organizations can provide their own literature as long as it meets the standards set by California legislation.

  1. Training for All Employees

The Governor of California approved Senate Bill 778, requiring all businesses with five or more employees to provide a minimum of two hours of sexual harassment training by January 1st, 2021. Moreover, all associates must attend the training, including supervisors and executives. Any new, supervisory and non-supervisory hires have up to six months to complete the required training.

  1. Prevent and Stop Harassment 

This might seem like the obvious goal of such mandated requirements of California’s Sexual Harassment Training; however, if the #MeToo movement taught us anything, it has taught us that in the context of sexual harassment in the workplace, no one should ever make assumptions. It is the responsibility of companies, both private and public, to train all staff on sexual harassment--and it’s their responsibility to prevent it and stop it. Meaning, they must create a safe space to report any harassment claims without fear of being ignored or facing retaliation.

Federal law, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits sexual harassment. 

State law in California makes sexual harassment illegal under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. These protections cover almost any professional with a touchpoint to your business, including unpaid interns, applicants, professional relationships, independent contractors, and employees.

It has become mandatory for the workplace to provide educational literature on sexual harassment to their worker. Sometimes, it could be difficult to provide adequate training material. 

Luckily, Arrow Up can incorporate a thorough training course to help reduce sexual harassment occurrences in your business.

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Related Link: Has Sexual Harassment at Work Decreased Since #MeToo?

Ensure that Your Sexual Harassment Training Meets Requirements

It’s imperative when you set about the task of meeting the requirements of Sexual Harassment Training in California, that you utilize quality, approved training methods. As such, you should take appropriate measures when drafting your training sessions. These steps should include the following:

  • Set appropriate training objectives, 
  • Check the minimum requirements that are included in your content, 
  • Verify that you are employing qualified trainers, 
  • Ensure that the modes of training are allowed, per California’s SB 778.

Meeting the Deadline for Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training

It has been said, “Knowing is half the battle.” What this means is that once you have the knowledge, you must do something about it. Knowing that training is mandated and designing your training sessions is only a part of the process. Originally, SB 778 set the deadline for mandatory training as of January 1, 2020. However, this date has been extended to January 1, 2021. 

It’s likely that the current lockdowns have forced delayed reactions for meeting the California Sexual Harassment Training deadline. However, this is no time to wait. Planning out your sessions can take time, not to mention that putting them into action will as well. Thankfully, you are not alone. 

At Arrow Up Training, we want to help businesses rise to the occasion and provide quality sexual harassment training.

Related Link: Helping Businesses Safely Reopen And Operate With Modern Training, Compliance, And Accountability Tools

Commonly Asked Questions

Given this new mandate, you may have some questions. Here are some answers.

What documentation do employers need to keep?

The following is the documentation employers must hold on to for at least two years:

  1. Name of the person trained
  2. Sign-in sheet
  3. Name of the training provider
  4. Date of training
  5. Type of training (live, e-learning, or other)
  6. A copy of all written materials from the training
  7. A copy of all certifications of both completion and attendance

For e-learning situations, employers should confirm all written questions asked during the training and what the responses were. Trainers document this during the training, but it is an employer’s responsibility to verify and hold on to those records.

For webinar training, employers need to keep a copy of written materials used by the trainer, a copy of the webinar itself, and all written questions asked during the webinar, plus any responses the trainer provided.

Training independent contractors

As long as you correctly classify independent contractors as such, you are not required to give them sexual harassment training. The law specifies supervisory and nonsupervisory employees, not independent contractors.

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Training remote employees in other states

Unless your remote employees supervise or otherwise interact with California employees, they do not need training. 

That said, when you are counting your employees to see if you meet the minimum of five for sexual harassment training, independent contractors and out-of-state remote employees count.

Compensation during training

Even though your employees are not doing traditional work, they need to be paid for their training time. This time is a minimum of two hours.

Similarly, the employer is responsible for any training costs. Employers should place no cost on employees.

Who counts as a qualified trainer for sexual harassment training?

  1. University or law school instructors with either their CA teaching credential and 20 hours of instruction or those with a post-graduate degree.
  2. Employment law attorneys who have been certified to practice law in any state for at least two years.
  3. Human Resources professionals or harassment prevention consultants with experience, including:
    1. Investigating sexual harassment allegations
    2. Advising employers or employees about harassment or discrimination
    3. Designing or hosting a training on harassment or retaliation, or 
    4. Responding to either sexual harassment or other discriminatory complaints.

What should training cover?

To meet requirements, sexual harassment training should cover the following:

  1. Information and practical guidance on preventing and correcting sexual harassment as it pertains to state and federal law.
  2. Actions available for victims of sexual harassment.
  3. Practical examples of retaliation, discrimination, and harassment.
  4. Information that helps prevent harassment or harmful conduct based on gender expression, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

What if I fail to train my employees by the January 1, 2021 deadline?

If an employee were to report your organization for failing to have trained employees, the DFEH will review the complaint after the January 1, 2021 deadline. 

The severity of the violation will be determined based on the total circumstances. This includes access to online training courses. If the law has been violated, DFEH works closely with employers to ensure they become compliant.

If sexual harassment occurs, who is liable?

Depending on your actions or inactions, the employer may be held liable. Sexual harassment law covers coworkers, customers, vendors, and supervisors.

While this training pertains specifically to sexual harassment, it’s worth noting that discrimination includes harassment based on any protected class. This includes gender identity, religion, age, sexual orientation, and race.
Related: Compliance Training You Need for Your New Employee Onboarding

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The #MeToo movement showed the world how crucial it is that everyone takes up the cause of preventing and stopping sexual harassment in the workplace. This issue is not something to procrastinate on. When employees see that their leaders, managers, supervisors, and executives are taking workplace sexual harassment seriously, they will follow suit.  

Have more questions about California Sexual Harassment Training requirements? Contact us today at

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