In September 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 1825 (Ch. 933, Statutes of 2004) requiring any district with 50 or more employees to provide two hours of sexual harassment training and education to supervisory employees by Jan. 1, 2006 (Government Code 12950.1). Subsequent training must be provided every two years thereafter.
All newly hired supervisors or employees promoted to a supervisory position must receive the training within six months of their hire or assumption of the supervisory position. Compliance with this law does not insulate the district from any liability for harassment.
Who must receive this training?
AB 1825 requires training for all “supervisory employees” but the legislation did not define the term. In 2007, the Fair Employment and Housing Commission adopted implementing regulations which clarified that, for training purposes, the definition in Government Code 12926 would apply. Government Code 12926 defines “supervisor” broadly as any individual having the authority to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees or to effectively recommend that action if the exercise of that authority is not merely routine or clerical in nature.
The question arises whether governing board members must also be trained. Although board members, as elected officials, are not usually considered “employees,” since board members have the authority to hire, reward, or discipline the superintendent and other employees, board members may also be required to receive sexual harassment training. Because of this broad definition, CSBA legal counsel recommends that board members receive training and education and that the district provide new board members with training within six months of assuming office. In addition, attorneys from the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing have opined that board members are required to undergo the training.
Because evidence of training may help mitigate damages in the event of a lawsuit, many attorneys recommend that all employees receive the training and that all employers, regardless of size, train all of their employees. Employers that do not provide the training may be ordered to do so by the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
What type of training must be offered?
AB 1825 sets specific quality standards for the training and education, which must be “effective and interactive.” The following topics must be covered:
- Information and practical guidance regarding federal and state statutory provisions concerning the prohibition against and the prevention and correction of sexual harassment.
- Information about the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
Implementing regulations list specific training components and also require that the training be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Employers may offer computer-based training, but such training must be interactive and provide a link as to how to contact a trainer who shall be able to answer any questions within two business days.
CSBA’s sample policy and administrative regulation on sexual harassment (BP/AR 4119.11) reflect these requirements and are available to subscribers of CSBA’s Policy Services.