On November 14, 2006, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Commission ("FEHC") adopted its October 2, 2006, modified harassment training regulations as its final proposed regulations. The regulations interpret the sexual harassment training requirements set forth in California Government Code Section 12950.1.
Pursuant to Government Code Section 12950.1, employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide two hours of "classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees" every two years. It is not necessary that all 50 employees or contractors work at the same location, or that they all work or reside in California. Additionally, the training requirements apply only to those supervisors located within the state of California. Businesses created after January 1, 2006, or that expand to 50 employees and/or contractors and thus become covered employers under the regulations, must provide training to supervisors within six months.
The regulations define various acceptable forms of "effective, interactive training" including "classroom" training, "e-learning," and "webinars." Regardless of the form of the training, it is mandatory that the instruction include questions that assess learning, skill-building activities that assess the supervisor’s application and understanding of content learned, and numerous hypothetical scenarios about harassment, each with one or more discussion questions so that supervisors remain engaged in the training.
The regulations also clarify the qualifications that a trainer must possess. A "qualified trainer" is a person who, either through formal education and training, or substantial experience, can effectively lead in-person training sessions or webinars. If the trainer is a "subject matter expert," defined as one who has a legal education and practical experience, or substantial practical experience in training in harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention, then the trainer may answer questions and provide immediate feedback to participants. Otherwise, a "subject matter expert" must be available to answer questions and provide feedback either during the training session, or within two business days.
Although Government Code Section 12950.1 requires employers to provide at least two hours of harassment training every two years, the regulations clarify that the training need not be completed in two consecutive hours so long as classroom training or webinars are in segments of half an hour or more. Employers must retain certain documentation of the training they provide for a minimum of two years.
The next step in the process is for the FEHC to submit a regulatory package to the Office of Administrative Law ("OAL") for its review of the regulations. The OAL has 30 days to review the regulations and either approve or disapprove them and require further changes. Once approved, the OAL will send the regulations to the Secretary of State and the regulations will become effective 30 days thereafter. The Commission estimates that if the regulations are approved by the OAL, the sexual harassment training regulations will become effective February 1, 2007.