A new law in California, signed by Governor Jerry Brown last year and in effect as of the first of the year, expands requirements on harassment training. Since 2005, employers with 50 or more employees have been required to provide at least two hours of training and education on sexual harassment to all supervisory employees. This training must occur within six months of hire or promotion, and then once every two years thereafter.
But now, the law requires this training to include harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. California is the first state to require coverage of these kinds of harassment in workplace trainings. Per the law, this training must be conducted by individuals with knowledge and expertise in these topics and must include practical examples.
California employers are now also required to post a new Department of Fair Employment and Housing poster regarding transgender rights in the workplace.
There is currently a heightened awareness of gender- and sex-based discrimination due to media exposure and changing laws around the country. They’re sensitive topics, but it’s important to address them in the workplace. Whether you do business in California or not, this is a great opportunity to revisit your policies around harassment and discrimination and to consider offering more inclusive trainings. Keep in mind that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission considers discrimination based on gender identity a form of sex discrimination nationwide.
And as with other protected classes, employment decisions should not be made based on gender or sexual orientation. Employers may also need to make reasonable accommodation for transgender employees. It’s a much better practice—for employers and employees—to address these potential concerns before they become problems.
Regardless of whether it is mandated, it is in every employer’s best interest to:
- Educate employees on unlawful discrimination and harassment,
- Clarify expectations for workplace behavior, and
- Obtain employee commitment to a respectful workplace—regardless of protected class, background, or perspective.
Interested in harassment training for your workplace? Xenium offers web courses, in-person workshops, and onsite training for your entire staff.