Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace has become a serious area of concern. Your liability as an employer may be extended to acts committed by supervisors and rank-and-file employees. Therefore, it is essential that you understand what constitutes sexual harassment, as well as other forms of harassment, under both California and federal law, and take steps to prevent or stop it.

Employers with five or more employees must comply with training obligations. Both supervisory and nonsupervisory employees must undergo harassment prevention training - supervisors receiving two hours of training and nonsupervisory employees one hour of training. Training must take place within six months of hire or promotion and every two years thereafter. Find out what you need to know about California's changes to harassment law - read our free FAQs About California's Expanded Harassment Prevention Training.

Common Mistake

  • Failing to understand what constitutes sexual harassment.

Sexual Harassment Defined

Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful workplace harassment based upon a person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression that may be verbal, visual, or physical. There are also other forms of unlawful workplace harassment. Understanding the differences between federal and state harassment laws is important because they have different liability implications.

Federal Law

Federal law forbids sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964. Title VII covers employers who employ, or have employed, 15 or more employees for each working day in 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.

State Law

Sexual harassment is illegal under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Sexual harassment protections extend to applicants, employees, unpaid interns, professional relationships and independent contractors.

Categories of Sexual Harassment

  • Hostile Work Environment harassment refers to unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex that are either severe or pervasive such that they unreasonably interfere with an employee’s work performance or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment that alters the conditions of employment.
  • Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment occurs when a job or promotion is explicitly or implicitly conditioned on an applicant or employee’s submission to sexual advances or other conduct based on sex.


Who Is Liable?

Sexual harassment law covers the actions of supervisors, coworkers, customers and vendors. Depending on the actions, or inaction, of you and your employees, you may be held liable.

Although sexual harassment receives the most attention and publicity, harassment on the basis of any protected class violates federal and state law and is considered a form of discrimination. For example, harassment on the basis of age, race, national origin, disability or religion is unlawful.

Mandated Sexual Harassment Training

California employers of five (5) or more employees, including those who work outside California, are required to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees every two years. Supervisors must receive two hours of training, and all other employees must receive one hour of training. Even temporary and seasonal employees must be trained. Training must include a component on the prevention of abusive conduct as well as a component on harassment based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

Duty To Prevent

All California employers have an affirmative duty to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment in the workplace and to promptly correct harassment if it does occur.

As part of this duty, California employers must have a written harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policy that is distributed to employees. The policy must meet certain strict requirements required by California law. This policy can be purchased as part of CalChamber's Employee Handbook Creator.

California employers must also:

  • Post required notices from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing
  • Provide each employee with a sexual harassment information sheet at the time of hire

Visit our online store to purchase required posters and notices.

Related Resources

CalChamber members have access to several tools and services that help those who manage human resources to work through sexual harassment issues, including:

CA Harassment Prevention Training - 2 Hour Supervisor Version »
Sexual harassment prevention training is good for your business in two ways. It's not only the law, but harassment in the workplace can damage your employee's morale and your company's productivity.

California companies with five (5) or more employees are required to provide all supervisors two hours of sexual harassment prevention training within six months of hire or promotion, and every two years thereafter.

CalChamber's online training course meets the California mandatory supervisor harassment prevention training requirements and helps simplify harassment prevention training.

CA Harassment Prevention Training - Employee Version
California companies with five (5) or more employees are required to provide all non-supervisory employees with one hour of sexual harassment prevention training within six months of hire, and every two years thereafter. Seasonal and temporary employees will need to be trained within an even shorter time frame.

How To: Develop a Harassment Prevention Policy »
Developing, publishing and enforcing an anti-harassment policy provides a set of best practices in maintaining a harassment-free work environment and defending against employee claims. The How To is a step-by-step guide through the process.

Sexual Harassment Quiz »
Do you know sexual harassment when you see it? What about your employees? Use this quiz to test your knowledge or that of your employees on this very important HR topic.

White Paper: Required Harassment Prevention Training FAQs »
This white paper provides answers to the most frequently asked questions we received about changes to mandatory sexual harassment prevention training, that went into effect January 1, 2019.

To help with organizing training, there is also a Mandatory Harassment Prevention Training Checklist.

Credibility Assessment Guidelines for Harassment Investigations »
It is important to determine the credibility of those testifying as part of a harassment complaint investigation. Use these guidelines to help you determine the credibility of an interviewee.

Harassment Discipline Checklist »
Use this checklist to implement any disciplinary actions that must be taken as a result of a harassment investigation.

Implementing a Harassment Prevention Policy Checklist »
Review this checklist when implementing a harassment prevention policy at your company.

Harassment Discrimination and Retaliation Prevention Policy - Five or More Employees »
Provide this policy to employee which states that you prohibit harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. California employers are required to put this policy in writing. Also available in Spanish.

Harassment Discrimination and Retaliation Prevention Policy - Less Than Five Employees »
Provide this policy to employee which states that you prohibit harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. California employers are required to put this policy in writing. Also available in Spanish.

Harassment Complaint Procedure »
Use this form to explain your company's harassment complaint procedure. Distribute the procedure along with your non-harassment policy to new employees and perhaps annually to all employees.

Harassment Investigation Letter to Alleged Harasser »
Use this letter to inform an employee accused of harassment of his/her rights and obligations during the investigation process.

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This is a sample of the type of content on HRCalifornia, California's #1 resource on employment law. 
CalChamber's free "Required Harassment Prevention Training FAQs" white paper explains all you've heard in the news about California making that substantial change to mandatory sexual harassment prevention training. Includes information on how employers with five or more employees must provide prevention training to all supervisors and employees by January 1, 2021.