A new California law requires companies with 50 or more employees to give supervisors two hours of sexual harassment training every two years. Newly hired managers must receive the training within the first six months.
California isn't alone: Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts also require some sexual harassment training. But what California does is often a litmus test for other states, making this law one to watch.
California's training includes practical examples of harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention, and is interactive. Having participants answer an online questionnaire has "enough interactivity to comply," says Mary Topliff, a San Francisco employment law attorney. But "somebody sitting in front of a TV watching a video is not interactive."
Companies that don't comply could be court-ordered to provide training. The biggest risk, however, will be failing to train and then getting sued for sexual harassment. Employers need to keep good records of training sessions. Make sure you understand your state's requirements, too.
Not bad advice, considering the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission resolved more than 14,500 sexual harassment charges in fiscal 2003 and recovered more than $50 million in monetary benefits for complainants, not including litigation fees.
Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog, Workplacediva.blogspot.com.