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The Importance of Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

The old adage "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" most definitely applies to the workplace. Sexual harassment is among the most serious of workplace problems, and thus preventing this problem is worth almost any effort. Thus, California has made prevention of sexual harassment the law; Government Code section 12950.1 requires that certain employers provide training on sexual harassment prevention.

This law applies to employers with 50 or more employees (it is not required that all 50 employees be in California). Training must be given to all supervisors. Employers would be wise to construe the definition of "supervisors" broadly - if there is doubt as to whether your employee is a "supervisor," train them just to be safe. Employees covered by the law must be trained every two years.

The law requires that the training be of the "classroom" variety or other "interactive training." California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing has suggested that internet/web-based training is sufficient as "interactive" training. The training must include practical examples dealing with prevention of harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

If the training is conducted as "classroom training," the actual time instructors spend teaching must total two hours, excluding breaks. Furthermore, classroom training can only be done by an attorney, a professor or instructor, or a Human Resource professional (each of these must have two years of experience). If the training is web-based, it must take at least two hours to complete the course. A record of who received the training, when it took place and what type, and who gave the training must be kept for two years.

While training does not completely eliminate the possibility of sexual harassment lawsuits, this "ounce of prevention" - required for all companies with over 50 employees - is well worth the effort.

This article is for education and information purposes only; it should not be construed as legal advice. If you have an employment law question for inclusion in a future article, contact Brett T. Abbott at Gubler & Abbott LLP (bta@thecalifornialawyers.com). For specific employment law advice or other legal assistance, contact Gubler & Abbott LLP, (559) 625-9600, 1110 N. Chinowth St., Visalia, CA 93291 (www.thecalifornialawyers.com).

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