United States: The Continuing Expansion Of Sexual Harassment Training Requirements In California

Last Updated: November 17 2016
Article by Kevin P. O'Neill, Marissa L. Dragoo and Christopher E. Cobey

A dozen years ago, California's passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 18251 began required sexual harassment prevention training for supervisors in companies with 50 or more employees.  Since then, California has led the nation in the scope and depth of required sexual harassment training of private-sector supervisors and managers.  New bills passed in 2016 expand the scope of required sexual harassment training to an estimated 570,000 additional private-sector workers, the vast majority of whom will be rank-and-file, non-supervisory employees.

Earlier this year, new regulations took effect aimed at clarifying employers' already-existing obligations to prevent and correct harassing conduct in the workplace.2  More recently, California enacted provisions requiring three categories of employers to institute sexual harassment training for employees.  As summarized below, new training requirements have been imposed to cover property services workers (janitors), farm laborers, and local government agency officials.3  The California legislature suggested that janitorial and agricultural employees remain vulnerable to sexual harassment and assault due to their frequently isolated working conditions, or their inability to complain effectively of harassment without fear of reprisal.  Employers in these industries should familiarize themselves with the new requirements and prepare for compliance.

Farm Laborers

California farms typically employ over 350,000 workers a year, with most these workers supplied by labor contractors.  California recently revised Labor Code section 1684, governing the licensing of farm labor contractors, to add training requirements for contractors, their supervisors, and all of the contractors' agricultural employees.  Amended section 1684 took effect on June 27, 2016, because this amendment was made part of the annual budget bill, which becomes effective when signed by the Governor.

As amended, Section 1684 provides that farm labor contractors may not obtain or renew their licenses unless they satisfy several conditions:

  • The applicant must pass a written exam, demonstrating that he or she understands current laws and regulations pertinent to the industry, including those concerning "the identification and prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace."4
  • The contractor must also provide a written certification that its supervisory employees, including crewleaders, mayordomos,5 and forepersons, have been trained "for at least two hours each calendar year in the prevention of sexual harassment." 
  • In addition, all nonsupervisory employees—including agricultural laborers—must receive training at the time of hire, as well as "at least once every two years in identifying, preventing, and reporting sexual harassment in the workplace."  The statute describes what topics should be addressed by the training, such as the definition of and examples of sexual harassment, its illegality, the "internal complaint process of the employer available to the employee," potential legal remedies, and the protection against retaliation.  Contractors must document all training sessions, including the names of the trainer and attendees, and maintain such records for three years. 
  • Besides the testing and employee training requirements, applicants for a farm laborer contract license must "also enroll and participate in at least nine hours of relevant educational classes each year."  Of these nine hours, at least one hour of class time must be devoted to sexual harassment prevention training. 

Property Services Staff

California has approximately 220,000 persons working in the property services industry.

Unlike the farm laborer training requirements, the new law mandating anti-harassment training for janitors, passed as AB 1978, is not effective immediately.  Rather, the law imposed the training requirements by first establishing a registration and recordkeeping process for janitorial employers.  This registration requirement mirrors the regulations already imposed on other industries that operate predominantly through contracting and subcontracting, such as farm labor contractors and garment manufacturers. 

Beginning July 1, 2018, janitorial employers must register with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) annually, and they cannot continue to conduct business without complying with that obligation.6  The act also requires employers to make and keep records with basic employee data for three years, including names and addresses, daily hours worked, wage information, and other conditions of employment.  DLSE can revoke registrations in certain circumstances.  DLSE also will maintain, on its website, a public database of registered property service employers.

Once the registration requirement takes effect in 2018, all covered employers must educate their employees about the unlawfulness of sexual harassment and how to combat it.  Initially, employers will need to give employees a copy of a pamphlet addressing the subject.7  Meanwhile, DLSE will create an in-person sexual violence and harassment prevention training program.  DLSE will convene an advisory committee to help develop the program, by July 1, 2017.  DLSE must propose the required elements of the training on or by January 1, 2018, and must formally establish the program's standards by January 1, 2019.  Both employees and employers must complete the sexual violence and harassment prevention training every two years.  Effective January 1, 2020, janitorial employers seeking new, or renewal, registrations must satisfy this training requirement. 


These expanded requirements for training of managers and employees in sexual harassment prevention suggest that the Legislature may continue to expand the mandatory training of this kind to other groups of employees in other fields.

The responsible agencies have yet to determine the requirements for delivering the training.  Accordingly, employers in the affected industries will have to remain flexible and innovative in their approaches to accomplishing the required training objectives, particularly for employees.  Employers will need to assess the most appropriate training method for their workforces.  Some employers may be able to use large-scale, in-person training, perhaps broken up into time segments.  Other employers may be able to use online training, assuming a significant enough portion of their affected workforce has access to a computer. Still other employers may choose to adopt a manual training approach, in which the individuals read through and certify completion of written materials.  Alternatively, a blended solution might turn out to work best—one in which several training approaches are used.


1. Codified as California Government Code § 12950.1.

2. See  Denise Visconti, Shannon Going, and Marissa Dragoo, Don't be Fooled: Significant New Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Policy Requirements Start April 1 for California Employers, Littler Insight (Mar. 4, 2016),  http://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/dont-be-fooled-significant-new-anti-discrimination-and-harassment.

3. The third category of employees required to receive sexual harassment prevention training include paid members of local governmental bodies, and any paid elected local governmental official.  See Government Code §§ 53237(b), 53237.1-53237.2.

4. Cal. Lab. Code § 1684(a)(5).  The code provides an exemption from the testing requirement if the applicant meets set criteria.  Cal. Lab. Code § 1684(d).

5. A Spanish term originally meaning "chief of the household" or "mayor of the palace," but more recently meaning a person in charge of a group or project, such as the manager of a hacienda, ranch, or estate.

6. New Labor Code §§ 1423, 1428, 2015–16 Reg. Sess., available at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1978

7. New Labor Code § 1424.  The approved pamphlet is DFEH-185, entitled "Sexual Harassment," promulgated by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions