Guide For Californian Employers To Prevent Sexual Harassment In the Workplace 

Out here on the west coast, things are getting stricter for employers in regards to preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. As of 2021, all employers with more than 5 people working for them must provide at least for them have to provide 1 hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to all “nonsupervisory” employees. In addition, they must provide 2 hours of training to their supervisors and managers, once every two years. All training must be recorded and presented upon request by the state.


The law, enforced by the Department of Fair Employment (DFE), requires the training to include “practical examples” of harassment directed at people “based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.” 


If need be, these courses can be obtained from the DFE for free from their website. The courses are all available in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog. This is part of the DFE’s new requirements based on government Code 12950.1.


What are the actual laws on sexual harassment? 


Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited under to main laws: 


  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The California Fair Employment and Housing Act


Title VII applies to all companies in the public and private sector with more than 15 employees and prohibits all sex-based discrimination – sexual harassment included. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act applies to all companies regardless of size. According to the Office of the Attorney General, sexual harassment can be anything along the lines of

“unwelcome sexual advances, or other visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature and actions that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment based on an employee’s sex.” 


Sexual harassment doesn’t even need to be “sexual” in order to break California’s law. It can be any sort of offensive conduct based on gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, or medical conditions. It also applies to behavior between two people regardless of sex or identity, not just between men and women or homosexual and heterosexual.


If employees want to file a lawsuit against an employer for sexual harassment or sex-based discrimination, they first have to file a complaint with either the DFE or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These complaints have to be filed within one year of the last incident of misconduct they experienced. 


Compensation can come in the form of: 


  • Getting rehired or reinstated
  • Front pay
  • Back pay
  • Punitive damages like pain and suffering
  • Promotion


Things like suggestive eye contact, asking someone out on a date, and consensual relationships are not usually taken seriously as legitimate misconduct by the courts. 


Do you need help with a sexual harassment complaint? 


Whether you’re an employee or employer, in Los Angeles or San Bernardino, don’t be afraid to reach for legal help. Qualified attorneys are all over the state waiting to assist you with sexual harassment lawsuits. 

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