New California Legislation Sends a Strong Message; Employers Responsible for Preventing Workplace Sexual Harassment

Sacramento, California, UNITED STATES

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 01, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Emtrain, the leading culture tech platform, is pleased to note the passage of California SB 1343 and SB 1300.

“California has been a leader in starting the national conversation around sexual harassment in the workplace, but has not had the right legislation in place to practically create safer workplaces—until now,” said Janine Yancey, CEO, Emtrain.

Yancey was an active part of the process to reshape California’s approach to sexual harassment prevention training with this bill, providing expert testimony to the Senate in June and persuading legislators to limit employee training to one hour (rather than two) and including a record retention requirement.

#MeToo and other movements related to sexual harassment have been the driving force behind California’s legislative mandate to increase employers’ obligations to protect California employees from illegal harassment.

California Governor Jerry Brown has just signed a series of bills related to workplace sexual harassment. Together, they make up one of the most sweeping collections of laws on the topic. The bills related to sexual harassment expand legal protections to victims of workplace harassment, while also expanding employers’ duty to prevent sexual harassment and the legal liability for those found to have engaged in such conduct.

“Eighteen years ago I investigated sexual harassment allegations within then-Mayor Jerry Brown’s Office. None of the allegations concerned Brown but I did interview him as a witness and my assessment was that he was trying to fully understand the nuances of sexual harassment and its impact on women—both directly and indirectly,” said Yancey. “By signing these bills into law, Governor Brown is showing that he squarely understands the impact of sexual harassment on women AND he’s stepping up to be the champion of women’s rights in the workplace,” said Yancey.

New Requirements for Sexual Harassment Training under SB 1343

The new law is simple: California employers (those with five or more employees) must provide harassment prevention training to all employees. Prior to this new law, California employers had to train just their managers—typically about 25% of the workforce. Under the new law, they need to increase their effort and focus to 100% of the workforce.

“Educating the entire workforce is the right thing to do,” said Yancey. ”These bills take much-needed steps to provide employees with access to the information and guidance they need to deal with potential workplace sexual harassment situations.”

SB 1343 Training Mandates

SB 1343 requires employers of five or more employees (this includes seasonal and temporary employees) to provide sexual harassment training every two years:

  • By January 1, 2020 (meaning training must happen in 2019)
  • Within six months of new employees assuming their position (and once every two years thereafter)
  • For at least two hours for all supervisors
  • For at least one hour for all nonsupervisory employees

Although the bill does not require this additional content, SB 1300 additionally authorizes employers to include bystander intervention training into its program. SB 1343 also requires the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing to develop and make available training courses that comply with these requirements.

What This Change Means For Californians

“California has a long-standing tradition of being the national leader in terms of protecting people from harassment and discrimination,” said Yancey. “There are approximately 19 million people who are ‘employees’ and working in the state. But without understanding the law, knowing their rights or knowing how to hold a manager or co-worker accountable for bad behavior—those legal protections have no practical value to most employees. Training and informing people of their workplace rights is certainly key to making those protections real and effective in a more practical way. The new law is the first step in the right direction to making that happen,” said Yancey.

About Emtrain
Emtrain’s culture tech platform provides online content, guidance, and analytics to create healthier organizations. Emtrain partners with industry experts and uses current events to teach on topics such as sexual harassment, unconscious bias, and ethics. Emtrain’s innovative platform is used by more than 800 culture-focused companies, such as Netflix, Workday, Yelp, Dolby, Pinterest, and others. Emtrain is a woman-owned and women-led company.
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