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Start Planning Your Workplace Sexual Harassment Trainings Early – The Ins and Outs of the Training Requirements Going into Place in 2020

California employment law is changing once again.  By January 1, 2020, an employer having five or more employees will be required to provide at least one hour of sexual harassment training to all of its employees, once every two years. The training will be required to start within six months of the employee’s assumption of a position.


Supervisory employees will be required to undergo two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training regarding sexual harassment.   Supervisory employees are those with authority to hire, fire, assign, transfer, discipline, or reward other employees or who many effectively recommend these actions if exercising that authority requires the use of independent judgment.

All other (Non-supervisory) employees will be required to undergo at least one hour of classroom or other effective interactive training regarding sexual harassment.  These training requirements apply to both permanent and temporary / seasonal employees.


Employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training in a classroom setting, through a live presentation, interactive E-learning, or a live webinar. If employers use E-learning training, the training must provide instructions on how to contact a trainer who can answer questions of trainees within two business days.


The training should include information and practical guidance regarding federal and state provisions on the prohibition against and the prevention of sexual harassment, as well as available remedies. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing requires trainings to explain: the legal definition of sexual harassment under state and federal law; examples of conduct which may constitute sexual harassment; resources and remedies available for victims of sexual harassment; strategies to prevent sexual harassment; supervisors’ obligations to report harassment; limited confidentiality of the complaint process; methods in which employers must correct harassing behavior; and what to do if a supervisor is personally accused of harassment. The training must also address “Abusive Conduct” under Government Code section 12950.1(g)(2), and harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.


California law limits qualified harassment trainings to three types of individuals: (1) Attorneys who have been members of any state bar for at least two years and whose practice includes employment law under the Fair Employment and Housing Act or Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964; (2) Human resource professionals or harassment prevention consultants with at least two years of practical experience in: designing or discrimination training on discrimination, retaliation and sexual harassment prevention and/or investigating, responding to, or advising regarding sexual harassment, discrimination or retaliation; or (3) law school, college, or university instructors with a post-graduate degree or California teaching credential and either 20 hours of instruction about employment law under the FEHA or Title VII.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2023National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 70

About this Author

Emilia A. Arutunian Employment lawyer Jackson Lewis

Emilia A. Arutunian is an Associate in the San Diego, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counseling.

While attending law school, Ms. Arutunian completed an externship with the Honorable Larry Alan Burns, the Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

Ms. Arutunian is an active member of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, an...