Required Sexual Harassment Training for Supervisory Employees Must Now Include Training on the Prevention of Abusive Conduct

Employment Law  

October 8, 2014

California law already requires that all private employers with 50 or more employees, and all public employers, provide at least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to any supervisory employees located in California within the first six months of the employee assuming a supervisory position. Employers are also required to provide sexual harassment training and education to each supervisory employee in California once every two years.

As of January 1, 2015, the prevention of abusive conduct must now be addressed as a component of this mandatory sexual harassment training. “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.” 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.”

The bill does not specify whether the “abusive conduct” training needs to be completed as soon as the law goes into effect or if such training can be delayed until an employer performs its regularly-scheduled sexual harassment training. At a minimum, employers providing sexual harassment training between now and January 1 should ensure that the training satisfies this impending requirement, and review their training program so as to prepare for these new requirements in 2015.