I was speaking recently at a business network meeting when a business owner asked whether she needed to be concerned with California’s new Sexual Harassment law, AB1825. This business owner runs her company with 18 full-time, 20 part-time employees, 8 temp workers, and 5 sales subcontractors who are located in several states.
Requirement: 50 + employees
On the surface it appears that she does not meet the 50+ employee requirement that determines whether she must train her supervisors. Taking a closer look at the law, however, reveals that temporary service workers and independent contractors, regardless of where they are located are included in the total count of employees.
Requirement: Training must encompass all aspects of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.
The training must address retaliation and: sex, race/color, religion, age, and national origin harassment and discrimination. Typically previous trainings did not include these areas.
Another business owner wanted to know whether or not they could continue to train in the same manner as the previous year’s training.
Requirement: A system in place to track and document employee participation and compliance
The answer is maybe yes, maybe no. If the training included all forms of harassment and discrimination AND tracked employee participation throughout the training (not just through sign in/out sheets) AND assessed their understanding of the material AND you can provide proof, then yes, continue to train as in previous years.
A business owner, one on a very tight budget, commented “it is good that I only have to train 5 supervisors, because I can’t afford to train more.”
Requirement: Businesses must provide a harassment-free workplace for everyone
With this in mind, how harassment-free will the workplace be if this owner only trains the supervisors? . And if a claim is made by the employee, will the money saved by training only supervisors, be enough to pay for attorneys, lost production time, and/or punitive damages? Probably not.
Regardless of the number of employees, location of employees, or previous training, employers need to both protect their company from harassment and discrimination claims and comply with the law. Ensure that your company is protected by training all employees in harassment and discrimination prevention.