Sexual Harassment Training in California:

Effective August 30, 2019, any business in California with 5 or more employees is required to provide

          – 2 hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisory employees
          – 1 hour of sexual harassment prevention training to all non-supervisory employees
Training must be completed by January 1, 2021.  California sexual harassment training of new hires needs to be completed within 6 months of their new position and must be renewed once every two years. (SB 1343, SB 778)


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What is Sexual Harassment?

According to DFEH (Department of Fair Employment and Housing), state regulations define sexual harassment as unwanted sexual advances, or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This definition includes many forms of offensive behavior and includes gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex as the harasser.

The following is a partial list of prohibited behavior:

  • Visual conduct: leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons or posters.
  • Verbal conduct: making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs and jokes. Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual.
  • Physical conduct: touching, assault, impeding or blocking movements.
  • Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors.
  • Making or threatening retaliatory action after receiving a negative response to sexual advances.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • A harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
  • The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
Who needs to take California sexual harassment training?

Employers having five or more employees must train all supervisors in California, as well as non-supervisory employees in California. A supervisor is anyone with authority to hire, fire, assign, transfer, discipline, or reward other employees. Additionally, a supervisor is also anyone with the authority to effectively recommend (but not necessarily take) these actions if exercising that authority requires the use of independent judgment. 

Part-time, seasonal, temporary and independent contractors are counted towards the “five or more persons” but only actual only employees are required to receive training. 

What is the deadline for employees to be trained?

By January 1, 2021, all employees (not including independent contractors), supervisors and non-supervisors, must be trained. 

Why should I receive training before January 1, 2021? 

Sexual harassment complaints and lawsuits are on the rise.  The sooner you and your business receive California sexual harassment training, your business will be able to recognize, better handle and the mitigate, reduce or eliminate the risk of workplace harassment complaints.  Education and training also increases awareness, morale, and productivity.

Although the law requires compliance by January 1, 2021:

Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace.

Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. It should be clearly communicated to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. One clear step is by providing California sexual harassment training to their employees and by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.  (EEOC)  

What happens if I completed my training on 6/1/2019?

According to the law, you will need to renew your training by 6/1/2021.

When do new hires and new supervisors need to be trained by?

Within six months of new hire, employees must complete either the 1 or 2 hour training depending on their position, non-supervisor vs. supervisor.  Upon six months of a promotion, supervisors must complete the 2 hour mandatory training. 

My business employs seasonal and temporary employees, do they still need to be trained?  And by when?

Beginning January 1, 2020, for seasonal and temporary employees, or any employee that is hired to work for less than six months, an employer shall provide training within 30 calendar days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked, whichever occurs first. In the case of a temporary employee employed by a temporary services employer, as defined in Section 201.3 of the Labor Code, to perform services for clients, the training shall be provided by the temporary services employer, not the client. 

Who is considered a Supervisor that needs the 2 hour training?

A supervisor is anyone with authority to hire, fire, assign, transfer, discipline, or reward other employees. In addition, a supervisor is anyone with the authority to effectively recommend (but not necessarily take) these actions if exercising that authority requires the use of independent judgment.   

What content must be covered in the training?

According to the DFEH (Department of Fair Employment and Housing), any training must explain the following:

  • The definition of sexual harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964;
  • Relevant statutes and case-law prohibiting and preventing sexual harassment;
  • Different types of conduct that can be sexual harassment;
  • Any remedies available for victims of sexual harassment;
  • Strategies to prevent sexual harassment;
  • Supervisors’ obligation to report harassment;
  • Practical examples of harassment;
  • The limited confidentiality of the complaint process;
  • Resources for victims of sexual harassment, including to whom they should report it;
  • How employers must correct harassing behavior;
  • What to do if a supervisor is personally accused of harassment;
  • The elements of an effective anti-harassment policy and how to use it;
  • “Abusive conduct” under Government Code section 12950.1, subdivision (g)(2).
  • Discuss harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, which shall include practical examples inclusive of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
What should I do if I experience a sexual assault, sexual violence, or other criminal acts?

If you experience sexual harassment that rises to the level of violence or assault, you should immediately contact law enforcement. Please see the California Attorney General’s webpage on Sexual Violence at for more information about sexual violence and available resources for victims of such violence.

Who is a qualified trainer?

There are three types of qualified trainers:

1. Attorneys who have been members of the bar of any state 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 conducting training on discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment prevention;
      • Responding to sexual harassment or other discrimination complaints;
      • Investigating sexual harassment complaints; or
      • Advising employers or employees about discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment prevention.

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.

Neither DFEH nor any other state agency issues licenses or certificates validating a person’s qualifications to teach sexual harassment prevention training classes.




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