A Guide to California Assembly Bill 1825
Section 12950.1 (as added to the Government Code)
(a) By January 1, 2006, an employer having 50 or more employees shall provide at least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees who are employed as of July 1, 2005, and to all new supervisory employees within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position. Any employer who has provided this training and education to a supervisory employee after January 1, 2003, is not required to provide training and education by the January 1, 2006, deadline. After January 1, 2006, each employer covered by this section shall provide sexual harassment training and education to each supervisory employee once every two years. The training and education required by this section shall include information and practical guidance regarding the federal and state statutory provisions concerning the prohibition against and the prevention and correction of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in employment. The training and education shall also include practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and shall be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.
(b) The state shall incorporate the training required by subdivision (a) into the 80 hours of training provided to all new supervisory employees pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 19995.4 of the Government Code, using existing resources.
(c) For purposes of this section only, “employer” means any person regularly employing 50 or more persons or regularly receiving the services of 50 or more persons providing services pursuant to a contract, or any person acting as an agent of an employer, directly or indirectly, the state, or any political or civil subdivision of the state, and cities.
(d) Notwithstanding subdivisions (j) and (k) of Section 12940, a claim that the training and education required by this section did not reach a particular individual or individuals shall not in and of itself result in the liability of any employer to any present or former employee or applicant in any action alleging sexual harassment. Conversely, an employer’s compliance with this section does not insulate the employer from liability for sexual harassment of any current or former employee or applicant.
(e) If an employer violates the requirements of this section, the commission shall issue an order requiring the employer to comply with these requirements.
(f) The training and education required by this section is intended to establish a minimum threshold and should not discourage or relieve any employer from providing for longer, more frequent, or more elaborate training and education regarding workplace harassment or other forms of unlawful discrimination in order to meet its obligations to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent and correct harassment and discrimination.
Interactivity Requirements. The regulations impose heightened interactivity requirements for all courseware, including:
Basic Provisions of California’s AB 1825
Two Hours of Sexual Harassment Training Every Two Years. The deadline for the first round of AB 1825 training was December 31, 2005. Thereafter, employers must provide two hours of training to each supervisory employee, every two years.
50 or More Employees. AB 1825’s sexual harassment training requirements apply to organizations that regularly employ 50 or more employees, or regularly “receive the services of” 50 or more persons. (Independent contractors and temps are included in the 50+ number.)
New Hires and Promotions. New supervisory employees must receive sexual harassment training within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position, and thereafter, every two years.
High Quality Sexual Harassment Training Required. The training mandated by California’s AB 1825 must be of a high quality, conducted via “classroom or other effective interactive training”(including webinars, online training, e-training) and must include the following topics:
Failure to Comply Opens the Door to Sexual Harassment Lawsuits. A claim that an employer failed to provide AB 1825-mandated sexual harassment training does not automatically result in the liability of an employer for harassment. Plaintiffs will argue, however, that the failure to meet the new AB 1825 training mandates is evidence of an employer’s failure to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment.
Legal Expertise Required for Sexual Harassment Training Course Designers. The regulations require that individuals who develop training materials (“trainers”) meet certain qualifications. Trainers can be:
Employers who develop their own sexual harassment training programs, or procure them from outside vendors, must be able to clearly demonstrate the active, hands-on participation of a true sexual harassment-prevention expert. This relates not only to a program’s development, but also its ongoing maintenance.