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Bill Clarifying Deadline for Anti-Harassment Training Passes Legislature

For Chief Legal Counsel, COOs, Human Resources Executives, Government Relations Staff

A bill that would extend the deadline for providing sexual harassment prevention training to Dec. 31, 2020 — Senate Bill (SB) 778 (Committee on Labor, Public Employment and Retirement) — passed the Assembly Floor earlier this week on a unanimous vote and has been sent to the Governor for action. He has until Oct. 13 to either sign or veto it.

SB 778 also would allow employers who have provided anti-harassment training to either supervisory or non-supervisory employees between Jan. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2020, to maintain their existing bi-annual training schedule.

The bill seeks to address significant confusion over the deadlines in SB 1343 (Chapter 956, Statutes of 2018), which requires employers with five or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training to non-supervisory staff — effective Jan. 1, 2020 — and every two years thereafter. SB 1343 included grandfather language for training conducted in 2019, but its application to existing supervisory training requirements was unclear. 

After SB 1343 took effect, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing issued frequently asked questions about the new law. According to the department, all training — both supervisory and non-supervisory — must be completed by Jan. 1, 2020, and only training conducted in 2019 would be considered compliant. Thus, if a hospital provided sexual harassment training to supervisors in 2018, the hospital would have to provide that training again in 2019, rather than in 2020 as previously required.

The employer community did not believe this was the intent of SB 1343 and brought their concerns to the attention of the bill’s author, Sen. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), as well as the Senate Labor Committee.

Both the senator and the committee agreed that it would be beneficial to clarify the deadlines; SB 778 would do so, and includes an urgency clause so that it would go into effect immediately if signed. The bill has received no opposition and is expected to be signed by the Governor.