California DOFE Launches Free Sexual Harassment Prevention Tutorial Course

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A change in California laws will now require all employers with five or more employees to provide training on how to avoid and prevent sexual harassment. Employees in supervisory positions will require at least two hours of training and non-supervisory employees will need at least one hour. Now, that training requirement can be easily met through a free online course provided by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Still, finding a sexual harassment lawyer in Bakersfield, California might be a necessity. 

Sexual harassment is becoming a prevalent problem in California. One study by the University of California, San Diego found that sexual harassment rates in California are 5% above the national average for women and 10% above for men. The study also points to the ubiquity of this type of crime, asserting that it can be hard to define for statistical purposes. 

The State of Sexual Harassment in California

In California, more than 83 percent of women and 53 percent of men report having experienced some level of sexual harassment throughout their lifetime. Marginalized workers are more likely to be taken advantage of, meaning that employers must encourage education and awareness around the realities of this crime. 

There are many types of sexual harassment and multiple scenarios that are considered illegal sexual crimes. Physical touch or contact that makes the victim uncomfortable or awkward, unwarranted comments about physical appearance, gawking in a suggestive manner, sending sexual texts, emails, and notes, forcing sexual jokes, and other conditions can all be considered sexual misconduct in the workplace. 

After the #metoo movement, thousands of Californians came forward to tell their own harassment stories, which raised added to the state of national awareness surrounding the high rates of misconduct in America. Now, the state is taking action to fight against the steadily rising percentage of residents who have been taken advantage of. 

A New Law for California Employers

In 2018, a bill from the senate was passed by Governor Jerry Brown, which required all employers with at least five employees to provide training to combat sexual harassment. This came after the California Legislature learned that many workers in their state are unaware of their rights and the laws surrounding sexual harassment cases.

The state has provided specific requirements on what must be included within the training program, but there is flexibility on how the program is delivered; it can be in person, through group training, via webinar or online teaching. The law specifically states that new employees must complete the training within six months of their hire, and then the company or business must provide the training again every two years after their initial offer. Companies must then maintain records of their employees’ training and be able to provide it. The new law will be in place starting on January 1, 2021, which has been pushed back due to COVID-19.

The Role of a Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Harassment should never be tolerated by anyone under any circumstance. After going to the employer, some cases may require a sexual harassment lawyer to clear up and confusion. Though it’s uncomfortable, the victim should do their very best to document the events of their situation, including who, where, when, and every notable detail that might help their case. Typically, companies work alongside the lawyer to help settle any discrepancies and file all the correct paperwork. 

The first step for a victim should always be to go to the supervisor or manager. They should never receive any discrimination or ill-treatment for coming forward. Often, the employer will take all of the information to a lawyer, who can properly collect and handle the evidence. If done correctly, the lawyer can make a case for the victim which can lead to compensation after their harassment. 

A New Sexual Harassment Course

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing has recently released an online course [ more here ] that effectively meets the requirements of the California law. Through educating residents on practical examples and scenarios of sexual harassment, the course will provide a strong basis to help employers prevent this crime in their workplace. 

The course can be completed entirely online and offers a certificate of completion, allowing employers to easily track and monitor their employees’ completion. The training modules are even available in multiple languages, to ensure that most California residents can participate. This service is entirely free, meaning that the only cost to employers is time, which they may have to compensate their employees for. 

The training will be delivered per the employer’s choice, meaning that it can be done individually, in a group setting or in any interactive setting. The course can also be completed in segments, as long as it’s met in time. 

Hopes are that this course will lower the rates of sexual harassment in California. Regardless of what route employers take to educate their workers, the program offered through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing presents a great option. 

Cited Sources

  1. https://www.cda.org/Home/News-and-Events/Newsroom/Article-Details/new-online-sexual-harassment-prevention-training-option-for-california-employers
  2. https://www.natlawreview.com/article/one-year-reprieve-california-delays-employer-sexual-harassment-training-requirements
  3. https://health.ucsd.edu/news/releases/Pages/2019-05-23-california-above-national-average-sexual-harassment-rates.aspx
  4. https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/shpt/https://www.forthepeople.com/labor-and-employment-lawyers/sexual-harassment/