California Expands Employer Requirements to Prevent and Address Sexual Harassment

This new law requires that by January 1st 2020, all California employers with 5 or more employees provide harassment prevention training to all employees.


Over the last year or so, our society has embarked on a difficult but much needed collective conversation about sexual harassment. It has been a roller coaster with tales of abuses of power, suffering, bravery, confusion, solidarity and change. With this backdrop, state legislatures have taken note, with many states considering new laws or expanding existing laws to address the issue, particularly with respect to workplace harassment.


In keeping with California’s heritage of being at the forefront of addressing harassment and discrimination in the workplace, the state has just taken some bold steps to further strengthen its existing requirements on employers on this topic. On September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a large number of bills related to employment issues, that included SB 1343 which will expand the existing mandatory harassment prevention training obligations for employers.

This new law requires that by January 1st 2020, all California employers with 5 or more employees provide harassment prevention training to all employees, and that training needs to be delivered every 2 years. Previously, California employers only needed to train their supervisors every 2 years, and it was only required for employers with 50 or more employees. Beginning in 2020, this type of training will also be mandated for seasonal and temporary employees, as well as seasonal and migrant agricultural workers.

In addition to the change in training requirements, there were also a large number of other laws enacted that relate to harassment and discrimination. These ranged from expanding the statutory examples of the types of defendants who may be liable for unlawful harassment to include elected officials and film producers (SB 224), the inclusion of harassment complaints within privileged communications (AB 2770), and limitations of confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements to enable the sharing of factual information related to claims of sexual assault or harassment (SB 820).

In case it is helpful, here is a Cheat Sheet of the new California harassment prevention training obligations for employers:

  • Who: California-based supervisors and employees of companies with more than 5 employees, including seasonal and temporary employees, as well as seasonal and migrant agricultural workers
  • Deadline: All relevant employees must be trained by January 1st 2020 (which means training needs to happen in 2019)
  • Frequency: Every 2 years
  • Duration: at least 2 hours of training for supervisors, at least 1 hour for employees
  • Content: required training topics were established in 2007 by AB 1825 and subsequent FEHA regulations. This is now augmented by another law enacted on September 30th, 2018 (SB 1300) which authorizes employers to include bystander intervention training (but does not mandate it)
  • Record retention: again, as established by AB 1825 and FEHA regulations, employers are required to keep records of completed training including details of the attendees, training methods used, copies of questions asked and responses given, etc.

Ready to develop a harassment prevention training plan for your employees?


Kantola develops market-leading high-quality anti-harassment online training courses. Give one of our knowledgeable training consultants a call at 800.280.1180 or 415.381.9363 to set up the right solution for your specific company’s needs.

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