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AB 1825: A Guide To Employer Compliance With Sexual Harassment Training In California

Sanju Kumari
28 May 2024
20 min read
AB 1825: A Guide To Employer Compliance With Sexual Harassment Training In California

What is the AB 1825 law in California?

Workplace sexual harassment is a significant issue in California. As per a recent study, about 86% of women in California have reported some form of sexual harassment at work. In another interesting study, between 58% and 72% of the cases related to workplace sexual harassment go unreported. These kinds of statistics and frequent reports of sexual assault prompted lawmakers to eradicate the problem from its root. They found a solution in the “provision of sexual harassment prevention training” to the employees of a business organization. 

The law AB1825 (2004) was passed on September 30, 2004, by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to prevent:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Discrimination, and
  • Retaliation in the workplace

Let’s understand this law in detail and learn how employers can effectively implement it. 

What constitutes workplace sexual harassment?

Firstly, it is important to understand what is covered under the term “workplace sexual harassment”. Moving legally has been defined under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The term workplace sexual harassment includes any:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances

or

  • Requests for sexual favors

It also includes any kind of other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that:

How does AB 1825 (2004) prevent workplace sexual harassment?

AB 1825 (2004) requires employers to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisory employees. This training must be conducted every two years. Also, newly promoted or hired supervisors must receive training within six months of assuming their supervisory role.

Primarily, such training is designed to educate supervisors on recognizing and preventing sexual harassment. By doing so, it aims to create a safe and respectful workplace environment.

Readers must note that AB 1825 (2004) is different from AB1825 (2024). While the former aims to prevent sexual harassment, the latter focuses on protecting the rights of individuals in public libraries. Let’s understand the key provisions of AB1825 (2024) so that you do not get confused between both laws:

  • AB1825 (2024), or California Assembly Bill 1825, is known as the California Freedom to Read Act.
  • It aims to prevent public libraries from banning books for partisan or political reasons.
  • Establishes procedures for removing books from public libraries
  • The latest revisions in the law have specifically focused on the inclusion of:
  • Diverse viewpoints 

and

  • Topics in library collections
  • This law also ensures that materials aren't excluded based on:
  • Origin
  • Background
  • Views
  • Addressed topics

Who has to provide training under AB 1825 (2004)?

AB 1825 applies to companies with 50 or more employees. While counting employees, part-time workers and independent contractors must be included. 

For example, 

  • Say a company has 30 full-time employees
  • Also, there are 10 part-time employees and 12 independent contractors

In this case, the provisions of AB 1825 would apply to the company as the company has crossed the total limit of employees as defined by AB 1825

What are the training requirements under AB 1825?

AB 1825 (2004) has listed several training requirements. Let’s study them under different categories:

How should the training content be?

The whole essence of AB 1825 (2004) lies in providing training to the employees of an organization. Thus, it specifically defines the content of the training. By providing this detailed explanation, it ensures that supervisors can:

Let’s see what are the several key areas that the training must cover:

Area I: Identification of Behaviors that Constitute Sexual Harassment

Let’s understand the distinction between “Quid Pro Quo” and “Hostile Work Environment.”

  • Quid Pro Quo
  • It is a Latin term for "this for that,"
  • Quid pro quo harassment occurs when submission to or rejection of sexual conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting that individual
  • For example,
  • Say a supervisor promises a promotion or raise
  • However, in exchange, they need sexual favors
  • Alternatively, the supervisor threatens demotion if the advances are refused.
  • Check out the quiz section to learn more about Quid Pro Quo.
  • Hostile Work Environment:
  • This kind of work environment is created when:
  • Unwelcome sexual conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance 

or

  • Creates an intimidating or offensive work environment
  • For example,
  • Persistent unwelcome comments of a sexual nature
  • Displaying sexually explicit materials
  • Repeated unwelcome touching

Area II: Creating a Respectful Work Environment

Area III: Proactive Measures

  • Employers should include the various techniques for supervisors to recognize and address potential harassment before it escalates
  • This also includes:
  • Intervening in inappropriate behavior 

and

  • Promoting open communication

Area IV: Encouraging Reporting

  • The training must provide steps for creating an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting harassment
  • Focus should be placed on the importance of taking all complaints seriously and ensuring confidentiality

Area V: Understanding of State and Federal Laws Regarding Sexual Harassment

  • State Laws
  • The training should give an overview of:
  • Relevant state laws, such as California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA),

and

  • The specific requirements and protections under AB 1825.
  • Federal Laws
  • Also, the training must explain federal laws, such as:
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 

and 

  • Guidelines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

How can employers ensure effective training delivery?

AB 1825 not only defines the training content but also requires companies to effectively deliver the training to their employees. To ensure this effectiveness, the training should incorporate these interactive elements:

  • Role-playing
  • Group discussions
  • Case studies

Multimedia presentations, including videos and animations, can also be used to illustrate key points. Additionally, the training sessions must be led by qualified trainers with expertise in:

  • Employment law 

and

  • Harassment prevention

Companies must also conduct evaluations and develop feedback mechanisms to measure the understanding of the participants. This feedback is necessary for continuously improving the program.

How can corrective actions be taken to address and resolve complaints?

  • Investigation Procedures
  • Employers should develop guidelines for conducting thorough and impartial investigations into harassment complaints.
  • This often includes:
  • Preserving confidentiality 

and

  • Protecting against retaliation
  • Disciplinary Actions
  • Organizations must establish procedures for determining appropriate disciplinary measures
  • These measures must be based on the findings of the investigation
  • This ensures consistency and fairness in enforcement.
  • Support for Victims
  • Provide resources and support to employees who have experienced harassment.
  • Some common examples include:
  • Counseling services
  • Employee assistance programs

How to implement the anti-harassment policy?

AB 1825 also requires employers to provide an anti-harassment policy. Let’s understand its key details:

  • Anti-Harassment Policies
  • Employers must establish and enforce a clear anti-harassment policy
  • This often includes procedures for:
  • Reporting harassment
  • A prompt and thorough investigation process
  • Measures to protect complainants from retaliation
  • Complaint Mechanisms
  • Employers must provide multiple avenues for employees to report harassment
  • They should be given the option to report to someone other than their direct supervisor.

How can employers provide effective anti-harassment training?

The success of the training depends on how effectively it has been delivered. To maximize learning outcomes, employers can use the following top five techniques:

  • Role-Playing Scenarios
  • Engage participants by having them act out different harassment scenarios and responses.
  • Help employees practice responding to harassment in a safe, controlled environment.
  • Group Discussions
  • Facilitate open discussions about experiences and perspectives on harassment.
  • Encourage participants to share ideas on creating a respectful workplace.
  • Case Studies and Real-Life Examples
  • Analyze real-life cases of harassment 
  • Discuss the outcomes and legal implications.
  • Help employees understand the impact of harassment on individuals and organizations.
  • Interactive Technology
  • Use e-learning platforms that allow for interactive activities, such as:
  • Drag-and-drop exercises
  • Video-based scenarios, and
  • Instant feedback quizzes.
  • Provide virtual reality (VR) scenarios for immersive learning experiences.
  • Quizzes and Assessments
  • Use quizzes and assessments throughout the training
  • This usage reinforces learning and improves understanding
  • Employers can consider using anti-harassment workplace training quizlets for interactive learning and self-assessment.

How can organisations benefit from anti-harassment workplace training quizlets?

  • Interactive Learning
  • Quizlets offer a gamified learning experience
  • They make the training course engaging and effective for employees.
  • Use the quizlets to reinforce key concepts through:
  • Flashcards
  • Matching games, and
  • Multiple-choice quizzes (MCQs)
  • Self-Paced Learning
  • Employees can use Quizlets to study and review material at their own pace
  • This improves retention.
  • Also, quizlets are great for asynchronous learning
  • They can be accessed anytime, anywhere
  • Knowledge Checks
  • Employers should regularly include quizzes as part of the training program to assess knowledge retention.
  • The results can used to identify areas that need further training or clarification.
  • Customization
  • Companies should create custom quizzes tailored to:
  • Specific content and
  • Policies of their organization.
  • Efforts must be made to include the following:
  • Company-specific scenarios 

and

  • Terminology to make the training more relevant

What preventive measures must be taken by employers beyond the mandated training?

  • Regular Training and Education
  • Beyond the mandated training, employers should regularly educate all employees about:
  • Sexual harassment 

and

  • The company’s policies
  • Monitoring and Accountability
  • Employers should actively monitor the workplace environment
  • They should hold all employees accountable for adhering to anti-harassment policies.
  • Support Systems
  • Companies must provide support systems, such as employee assistance programs (EAPs)
  • It has been observed that such programs help employees affected by harassment.

How can employers support ongoing education and reinforcement?

One of the biggest benefits of ongoing education and reinforcement is “sustained awareness”. Regular training reinforces knowledge and keeps harassment prevention top of mind.

Also,

  • Ongoing education equips employees with updated skills
  • They can recognize and address harassment effectively.
  • Continuous reinforcement creates a culture of respect and accountability
  • This reduces the likelihood of harassment incidents.

Let’s understand what employers can do:

  • Continuous Learning
  • Offer refresher courses and additional training sessions regularly, at least annually.
  • Ensure new employees receive training as part of their onboarding process
  • Reinforcement Through Communication
  • Regularly communicate the importance of a harassment-free workplace through emails, newsletters, and meetings.
  • Highlight the organization’s commitment to a respectful work environment.
  • Access to Resources
  • Provide easy access to resources such as the company’s harassment policy, reporting procedures, and support services.
  • Ensure employees know where to find help and information.
  • Feedback and Improvement
  • Collect feedback from employees on the effectiveness of training sessions.
  • Use feedback to improve and adapt future training programs.

How can employers remain compliant with AB 1825?

Employers must note that the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is tasked with monitoring compliance with the law's requirements. The DFEH plays a crucial role in ensuring that employers fulfill their obligations regarding sexual harassment prevention training. Let’s see how:

  • Monitoring Compliance
  • The DFEH is responsible for overseeing compliance with AB 1825
  • It does so by conducting audits and investigations of covered employers (explained ahead)
  • Enforcement Actions
  • If the DFEH finds evidence of non-compliance, it has the authority to take enforcement actions against employers.
  • This often includes:
  • Issuing warnings
  • Imposing fines, or
  • Pursuing legal action
  • Audits
  • The DFEH conducts audits of covered employers to assess their compliance with the training requirements of AB 1825
  • This involves reviewing:
  • Training records
  • Policies
  • Procedures related to sexual harassment prevention
  • Investigations
  • In response to complaints or reports of non-compliance, the DFEH initiates investigations
  • These investigations help in determining whether an employer has violated AB 1825. 
  • Usually, this involves:
  • Interviewing employees
  • Reviewing documentation
  • Assessing the overall workplace environment
  • Corrective Action Orders
  • If non-compliance is identified, the DFEH issues corrective action orders
  • These orders require the employer to take specific steps to remedy the situation.
  • Often, it includes:
  • Providing additional training
  • Revising policies, or
  • Implementing monitoring measures
  • Follow-Up Monitoring
  • The DFEH also performs follow-up monitoring 
  • This is mostly done to ensure that the required measures are implemented effectively

Can employees report an employer for non-compliance with AB 1825?

Yes, employees can report their employer's non-compliance with sexual harassment prevention training requirements to the California Civil Rights Department (CRD). Upon receipt of a valid complaint, the CRD will investigate and enforce compliance through orders and potential penalties. It is pertinent to note that the CRD enforces the provisions of AB 1825 under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). 

For a better understanding, let’s see the process of reporting and enforcement by CRD in easy steps:

Step I: Filing a Complaint

  • Employees who suspect that their employer is not providing mandatory sexual harassment prevention training can file a complaint with the CRD.
  • Complaints can be submitted in multiple ways: 
  • Online
  • By mail, or
  • In person.

Step II: CRD Investigation

  • Once a complaint is filed, the CRD will investigate to determine if the employer is indeed in violation of AB 1825.
  • If the investigation confirms non-compliance, the CRD will issue an order
  • The order will direct the employer to provide the necessary training.

Step III: Employer Non-Compliance

  • Employers who continue to ignore the training requirements after receiving an order from the CRD will face civil penalties.
  • The CRD is authorized to impose monetary penalties for each instance of non-compliance.

Conclusion

AB 1825, enacted in 2004, requires California employers with 50 or more employees to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to supervisory employees every two years. This law aims to reduce workplace sexual harassment by educating supervisors on recognizing and preventing harassment. The training must cover the identification of harassment behaviors. It must strive to create a respectful work environment where employees are encouraged to report the matter based on their understanding of state and federal laws. Also, employers must ensure the effective delivery of this training through interactive methods like role-playing, group discussions, and case studies. 

Compliance with AB 1825 is monitored by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). It is a state agency that conducts audits, investigates complaints, and enforces corrective actions. Furthermore, even employees can report non-compliance to their employers to the California Civil Rights Department (CRD). This body is legally authorized to investigate and, if necessary, impose penalties on employers who fail to comply.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is AB 1825?

AB 1825 is a California law enacted in 2004. It requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training to supervisory employees every two years. The primary goal of this law is to prevent workplace sexual harassment and discrimination.

2. What can employees do if their employer does not comply with AB 1825?

Employees can file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD). It will then investigate the non-compliance and issue orders for the employer to provide the required training. Employers who continue non-compliance may face civil penalties.

3. Is the training mandatory for the employees to attend?

Yes, the training is mandatory for all supervisory employees in organizations with 50 or more employees, and they must complete it every two years. Newly hired or promoted supervisors must receive the training within six months of assuming their role.

4. What is the legal definition of workplace sexual harassment?

Workplace sexual harassment is defined under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). It covers the following elements:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that:
  • Affects employment
  • Interferes with work performance, or
  • Creates an intimidating work environment
Sanju Kumari

Sanju has a wealth of experience and expertise in instructional design, bringing innovative ideas and a fresh perspective to e-learning content development. She is passionate about merging technology and creativity for dynamic e-learning. Her passion for creating engaging and effective learning experiences aligns perfectly with Calibr's commitment to excellence. She also enjoys writing about e-learning trends in the corporate world.