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SB 778 Requires Employers to Provide New Harassment Prevention Training by January 1, 2021

(Advisory Note: anti-harassment policies should also be updated)

When Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 778 into law in 2019, he extended by one year the deadline for employers to implement new harassment prevention training requirements. Senate Bill 778 addressed concerns relating to Senate Bill 1343, which substantially expanded state law training requirements and gave employers until January 1, 2020 to comply with the new training requirements, including additional course content and training of all employees — supervisory and non-supervisory. Senate Bill 778 gives employers an additional year, until January 1, 2021, to develop and implement new anti-harassment training that meets the new mandates outlined below. Anti-harassment policies should also be reviewed and updated in conjunction with new training programs.

What Are the New Harassment Prevention Training Requirements?
By January 1, 2021, California employers with five or more employees must provide:

  • At least two hours of harassment prevention training to all supervisory employees once every two years
  • At least one hour of harassment prevention training to all non-supervisory employees once every two years
  • At least two hours of harassment prevention training to new supervisory employees within six months after assuming the supervisory position
  • At least one hour of harassment prevention training to new non-supervisory employees within six months after the hire date

Beginning January 1, 2020, at least one hour (non-supervisory positions) or two hours (supervisory positions) of harassment prevention training to seasonal, temporary, or other employees hired to work for less than 6 months, by the time whichever event occurs first — 30 calendar days after the hire date or 100 hours worked.

What Should Employers Do Now?
Though the one-year extension grants temporary relief, all employers are required to implement training of their supervisors and employees during calendar year 2020. The new legislation also clarifies that employees who completed the requisite harassment prevention training in 2019 are not required to receive refresher training courses until 2021.

The myriad of new California anti-harassment laws make clear that employers must take affirmative steps to prevent harassment in the workplace and failure to do so can lead to increased liability. Employers should not simply “check the box” when it comes to anti-harassment policies and training programs. Instead, policies and training must meet the needs of each employer’s unique workplace, as well as the type of employees being trained. Meyers Nave offers harassment prevention policy drafting and training for supervisory and non-supervisory employees that satisfy the requirements mandated under SB 778, and that promote positive, respectful and inclusive workplace culture.

For more information about our anti-harassment policy development assistance and training programs, please contact Camille Hamilton Pating, Chair of our Workplace Investigations Practice Group at cpating@meyersnave.com.