Questions and Answers About the California Training Law AB 1825
- In brief, what does AB 1825 cover?
- When does the law go into effect?
- How does the law define a supervisor?
- What liability might an employer incur if they do not train?
- Can online training be used to meet AB 1825's requirements?
- As an employer, what should you do?
- Does HR Classroom offer a training to meet my requirement as an employer for AB 1825?
In brief, what does AB 1825 cover?
Assembly Bill 1825 (AB 1825) requires any California employer of 50 or more employees to provide supervisors with at least two (2) hours of sexual harassment training every two years. The employer must include their full-time, part-time and temporary service employees as well as independent contractors to determine whether they meet the 50-employee threshold. The law does not specify that the 50 employees must be within the state; thus, the law applies to California employers with 50 total employees including those outside the state.
When does the law go into effect?
The law requires ongoing training after January 1, 2006, for all supervisors; they must receive at least two hours of anti-harassment training every two years. If supervisors were employed as of July 1, 2005, the initial two hours of training must be completed by January 1, 2006. Supervisors who have received training after January 1, 2003 need not be re-trained by January 1, 2006. Supervisors hired or promoted into supervisory positions after July 1, 2005 must complete training within six months of hire or promotion to a supervisory position. (Future bi-annual training will still be required of all supervisors).
How does the law define a supervisor?
The sexual harassment prevention training must be provided to all employees who have "supervisory authority," a broadly defined term in California. The Fair Employment and Housing Act defines "supervisor" broadly to include "any individual having the authority . . . to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees, or the responsibility to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend that action, if, in connection with the foregoing, the exercise of that authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment." Thus, employees who make recommendations to others about such matters must receive training if their recommendations are likely to be acted upon. Such employees may have many titles including manager, supervisor, lead person, foreperson, etc.
What liability might an employer incur if they do not train?
AB 1825 provides that employers who fail to conduct the training as required may be ordered to do so by DFEH. The law also says that providing the specified training is not a defense to a sexual harassment claim. (Conversely, a supervisor's failure to receive training does not establish liability for harassment under FEHA.) Nevertheless, plaintiffs' lawyers likely will argue that the failure to comply with this law could show "reckless disregard" for the law. Also, the law clearly states that it sets minimum standards and employers are free to implement more rigorous or frequent preventive measures. Thus, employers will no longer be considered proactive for merely conducting supervisory training every two years, since the law requires such training.
Can online training be used to meet AB 1825's requirements?
Yes. Although "effective interactive training" is not clearly defined by AB 1825, the DFEH has strongly suggested that web-based training will be acceptable as "interactive" training under the new law. This reading of the statute makes sense, as it would be extremely challenging for employers to conduct classroom-style training for 1.7 million California supervisors in 2005.
Well-designed online training may actually provide greater "interactivity" than classroom-based training. Why? Such online training requires participants to respond directly to real-life scenarios via quizzes. Also, a properly designed online training system will electronically track the activity and success of each course participant, and provide the employer with training completion data as well.
As an employer, what should you do?
As an employer, you have until January 1, 2006, to make arrangements to implement AB 1825. In the meantime, you should:
- Deliver live or other interactive training (such as online training).
- Develop a way to monitor compliance and ensure that new supervisors are trained within six months of hire or promotion, and every two years thereafter.
- Make sure that you have a system for recordkeeping to demonstrate your compliance with AB 1825.
- Update your policies and procedures to include reference to and documentation of adequate training.
- Ensure that your executives are aware of and comply with AB 1825.
Does HR Classroom offer a training to meet my requirement as an employer for AB 1825?
Yes. Our Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for California Supervisors meets the requirements of AB 1825. Specifically:
- Under AB 1825, compliant trainings must last a minimum of two hours. When using our audio option, the HR Classroom training duration exceeds the two hour minimum. The Training administrator is provided with a report of the employee’s actual elapsed time.
- The training provides a variety of real life scenarios illustrating the concepts and issues governed by AB 1825
- The training is 'interactive', with numerous quizzes and an 'Ask the Training Administrator' feature on every page. The training also includes audio, providing reinforcement of the training content.
- The training allows you to insert your organization's policy on Sexual Harassment directly into the training, thus letting the instruction reflect the specifics of your company culture.
- The training provides a reliable, web-based reporting tool that tracks trainee activity and allows you to export the data to your organization's computer systems.
- The training allows the trainee to pause and restart the training as needed. For example, the trainee could take the training in two 1-hour segments, if needed.
- The training content was created and rigorously vetted by HR Classroom's California-based lawyers to meet AB 1825 standards. HR Classroom has provided similar web-based compliance training nationwide since 2001, training over 50,000 employees annually.
Of course, you should always consult your legal counsel to ensure that your training programs meets your organization's specific needs. HR Classroom can form an important piece of your overall training plans for meeting the requirements of AB 1825. Please note that AB 1825 specifies that the required training 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."
For many years the U.S. Supreme Court and the EEOC have suggested that employers train all employees in harassment and discrimination prevention based on all the protected categories - race/color, national origin/ancestry, religion, age, disability/medical condition, etc. HR Classroom also provides compliance trainings in these areas. Be aware that training specifically focusing only on sexual harassment prevention will have little or no benefit in defending against a claim based on one of the other protected categories.