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Is harassment training required by law in California?
Yes, according to California Government Code 12950.1, all California employers of five or more employees must provide training regarding sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention.
What are the California harassment training requirements?
California law requires all companies employing five or more people to provide abusive conduct prevention training to their supervisors and nonsupervisory employees. Every two years, non-supervisory employees must be trained for at least one hour and supervisors must be trained for at least two hours. Training may be completed all at once or broken into shorter sessions, as long as the total hourly requirements are met.
While the law does not specify all types of conduct that may be covered, it does mandate that the training must include practical illustrations of harassment, including scenarios involving gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) provides a basic, free online training module to meet these state requirements, including both a course training for supervisory and non-supervisory employees. In addition to English, these trainings are available in several languages, including: Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
What dates do California employees need to be trained by?
According to California Code of Regulations, 2 Title, section 11024(b)(1), employees must receive anti-harassment training every two years. This means employees must be trained within two years of the last training they completed, or by the end of the next official “training year”, if it is a new employee. New employees should not receive an “extension” on the period they must be trained within, and are expected to complete training within the current employee’s two-year training interval. New nonsupervisory employees must be trained within six months of their hire date, and new or internally-promoted supervisory employees must also be trained within six months of assuming their supervisory role.
Do California companies have to use the DFEH training courses?
California companies are not required to use the DFEH sexual harassment training program. They may use other training programs or online training courses so long as they meet the general requirements established by DFEH.
What are the DFEH requirements for sexual harassment prevention training?
The DFEH has outlined some general sexual harassment training requirements which must be met in order for harassment prevention training to satisfy the requirements of “effective interactive training” as laid out in Government Code section 12950.1:
- Training must be 2 hours in length for supervisory employees or 1 hour in length for non-supervisory employees.
- Training must occur every two years for all employee roles, and in the case of supervisory employees, an initial training must occur within 6 months of assuming a supervisory role.
- Training may be administered individually or in a group setting, however the DFEH guidelines explicitly state that the DFEH e-learning “cannot be watched in a group setting”, pursuant to the guidance of California Code of Regulations, Title 2, section 11024.
- Training content must include practical guidance regarding state and federal provisions against sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexually harassed employees.
- Training must include practical examples designed to instruct supervisors in the prevention of harassing behavior, discrimination and retaliation.
- Training must include material and practical examples of harassment which cover the prevention of abusive conduct, and harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
Additional details regarding instruction that meets the “effective interactive training” requirements include:
- requirements include:
- Live, trainer-led instruction that may be in-person or remotely transmitted.
- Interactive e-learning completed by individuals and which includes a means to ask questions of a live trainer.
- Other compilations of digital, audio and video resources in conjunction with live, webinar-based, or self-paced training approaches to training.
- The training may not be text-based only and must be in an “interactive” format.
Is an employer responsible to pay for anti-harassment training in California?
Yes, according to California Government Code 12950.1(a)-(b), it is the responsibility of the employer to provide means and time to complete the harassment prevention training within normal business days. Employees are not expected to accomplish their individual training requirements outside of regularly scheduled work time, and employers are expected to cover any costs associated with the training.
Fortunately, many software solutions offer competitive packages for employers. One solution worth checking out is WiseDaily. They offer bite-sized, mobile-friendly courses that you can provide to all of your employees at a low, fixed price.
Do contractors, unpaid interns and volunteers need to complete anti-harassment training in California?
While contractors, unpaid interns and volunteers are considered when determining if an organization meets the 5 member threshold, these groups are not required to complete anti-harassment training. Organizations may find it wise to require these groups to attend training as a best practice in order to reduce liability and reinforce organizational culture.
Do seasonal workers need to have anti-harassment training?
For seasonal employees or temporary employees hired for less than six months, training is required within 30 calendar days of the employee’s first day of work or within 100 hours worked, whichever applies first.
If an employee is employed for fewer than 30 days and works for fewer than 100 hours, they are exempt from the anti-harassment training requirement and do not require training.
Employees who are employed by a temporary employment agency and who meet the six month/100 hours requirement in their employment by the temporary employment agency are to be trained by the agency, and not the contracted employer.
Do California anti-harassment training requirements require bystander training?
The training requirements laid out by California Government Code 12950.1 do not require bystander training. However, organizations may wish to include bystander training as a “best practice”, with a focus on intervention and existing resources or help in the event of a harassment incident.
Is there a DFEH approved list of trainers or independent training resources?
Currently, the DFEH does not maintain a list or any sort of approval process of trainers or training resource providers, nor do they typically give recommendations on independent resources of that nature. One training resource that meets California’s compliance requirements is WiseDaily. It offers both company-wide and individual subscriptions to harassment prevention training courses plus a wide variety of professional development resources.
How do I become a DFEH approved anti-harassment trainer?
The DFEH does not currently provide a certification process for harassment-related trainers, and does not provide guidance on whether one meets the requirements to be a trainer. The verbiage of California Government Code 12950.1 leaves the qualifications of trainers fairly open, stating only that training “shall be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation”. California Code of Regulations, Title 2, section 11024 gives further guidance, stating trainers “are individuals who, through a combination of training, experience, knowledge, and expertise, have the ability to provide training about…abusive conduct, sexual harassment…what constitutes retaliation and how to prevent it…[and] essential components of an anti-harassment policy” as well as a number of other related topics. The section goes on to state a number of more granular qualifications, including that a trainer must be one or more of the following:
- Human Resource Professional
- Harassment Prevention Consultant
- Peer-to-peer trainer with a minimum of two years of practical related experience
- Professor or instructor in a law schools, college or university with a specified minimum amount of related instruction hours
Do employees who are harassment prevention trainers also need to complete harassment prevention training in California?
No, employees who are qualified as trainers, according to the requirements laid out in California Code of Regulations, Title 2, section 11024, and who participate in providing harassment prevention training, do not need to personally complete training.
What documentation of harassment prevention training is required in California?
The State of California does not require specific documentation of harassment prevention training to be submitted to the State. However, the law does require that employers maintain detailed records of who has attended training, what the training entailed, and when the training occurred.
This documentation can be in the form of completion certificates, sign-in sheets, copies of any training materials used, and name(s) of trainers or external training providers.
Documentation should be maintained on-premise by the employer and should be maintained long enough to verify the current and previous two-year training cycles.
Can employees obtain their past harassment prevention training certificates or documentation from the State?
No, the State of California does not maintain any documentation regarding individual employee training status or certification. Employees must obtain information about past training from the employers under which the training was completed.
If obtaining the certificate from a previous employer is not possible, an employee may also retake the state supplied e-learning module and obtain a new certificate.
Is there a hotline for employees for anti-harassment training questions?
No anti-harassment training hotline or helpline is currently managed by the state of California. Employees should direct their training-related questions to their employer’s human resources department, the qualified trainer who conducted their training, or another qualified training resource.
Are employers required to provide harassment-related posters?
Yes, employers in the State of California are required to display a poster “in a prominent and accessible location” or provide employees with a fact sheet (or a comparable resource) outlining sexual harassment information.
Are employers in California required to have a sexual harassment policy?
Yes, employers in the State of California “shall develop and distribute to its employees a harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention policy” which meets the requirements laid out in California Code of Regulations, Title 2, section 11023.
The policy must be in writing, clearly state the illegality of the prohibited acts of harassment, and establish a complaint process through which employees can submit related grievances.