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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: FAQs

Sexual Harassment

What is California’s mandatory sexual harassment training requirement?

For employers with five or more employees, California law requires a sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training for one hour to be provided to nonsupervisory employees. The same training is required to be provided for supervisors for two hours. This prevention training should be done once every two years. For more information, visit the Small Business Employee Training website.

What are the 3 forms of harassment?

The first form of harassment is gender harassment, which is done through various forms of verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Examples of this type of harassment are objectification, exclusion and hostility towards another person.

Second, is unwanted sexual attention. This is evident in unsolicited sexual advances through verbal or physical means such as assault.

Lastly, is through sexual coercion. This behavior is manifested when a person promises favorable treatment in the workplace, for as long as the person being propositioned to agrees to have sexual relations with the other.

What if I have provided or taken sexual harassment training in the past, do I have to be retrained?

Yes. Once every two year, employers should provide sexual harassment training for one hour for non-supervisory employees and two hours for supervisory employees. Consult with Small Business Employee Training for more information.

Is sexual harassment limited to situations where supervisors make sexual demands on subordinates?

No, it is not. Sexual harassment is any form of unacceptable behavior that creates a hostile working environment, causing one’s work to be affected. Examples of these are inappropriate sexual gestures, invasion of personal space sexually, and sharing or posting of sexual photos.

Can sexual harassment occur without physical touching or a threat to the employee’s job?

Yes, sexual harassment can occur without physical touching or a threat to the employee’s job through unwelcome verbal and non-verbal means.

Can individuals be legally liable for harassment, or just employers?

Aside from employers, individuals such as the a co-worker, a supervisor in another department, the victim’s direct supervisor, or even a client or a customer, can be legally liable for harassment.

Is sexual harassment of men, either by women or by other men, unlawful?

Yes, it is unlawful. Men and women can both be victims of sexual harassment.

Do employers need to train independent contractors, volunteers, and unpaid interns?

No, however they are included in determining whether an employer should provide harassment prevention training. The requirement for the training is for employers with five or more employees. If the number of employees is less than the said number, but there are other independent contractors, volunteers, and unpaid interns, these independent contractors, volunteers, and unpaid interns will be counted. However, the training required will only be applicable to the employees. Small Business Employee Training can help you for any further questions.

If I have employees located outside of California, are they required to be trained?

No, employees located outside of California are not required to be trained, although they are included in the count to determine whether the Act covers their employers. Talk to a representative from Small Business Employee Training today for any clarification on the matter.

What conduct is considered sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome behavior or conduct that is done in a physical, verbal, or non-verbal manner, which affects a person’s employment, interferes with work performance, and creates a work environment which is hostile, offensive, or intimidating.

What do you do if you believe you have been sexually harassed?

If you believe you are being sexually harassed, you may document the instances of sexual harassment done to you, and report the incident to your employer. You may also go to a law enforcement officer for severe cases constituting criminal conduct. You can also file a case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC, or a state or local Fair Employment Practices Agency or FEPA before filing a law suit.

When is my employer legally responsible for the sexual harassment committed by its employees?

An employer’s legal responsibility for sexual harassment committed by its employees depends on who committed the harassment and what type of harassment was done. If the harassment was done by a supervisor, the employer is liable if tangible employment action such as demotion or firing resulted from it.

An employer can also be liable if the supervisor’s actions created a hostile working environment. However, an employer can also provide a defense on his part if reasonable care was exercised to avoid any harassment to ensure, but there was unreasonable failure on the part of the employee to take advantage of the said company’s measures.

If the employer knew or should have been aware about the harassment done by a co-worker to an employee, then the employer is also liable for the actions of the co-worker.

Who needs to take sexual harassment training?

All members of the workforce should be educated to prevent sexual harassment. However, additional specialized training is required by managers and supervisors for the proper handling of sexual harassment cases. Small Business Employee Training offers courses such as California Sexual Harassment Training. Visit the website for more information.

What is Sexual Harassment?

With 54% of workers experiencing some form of sexual harassment, this type of harassment is said to be the most common form of workplace harassment. Sexual harassment is being done through various unwelcome behavior by physical, verbal, or non-verbal means.

How long do California sexual harassment trainings need to be?

California sexual harassment trainings need to be at lease one hour for non-supervisory employees, and at least two hours for supervisory employees. Courses on sexual harassment trainings are being offered by Small Business Employee Training. For those who are interested, contact them today.

How often are California employees required to take a sexual harassment training?

Once every two years for both supervisory and non-supervisory employees.

Can an employee take their sexual harassment prevention training from one company to another?

Yes, if the employee is validly trained in the last two years, then they can take their training to another company. The new company, however, should validate the employees training, otherwise he or she needs to be go through retraining.

Do temporary employees need sexual harassment training?

Yes, temporary employees need sexual harassment training within thirty calendar days after the hire date, or within one hundred hours worked, whichever comes first.

Can my employer retaliate against me for filing a sexual harassment claim?

It is not legal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for filing a sexual harassment claim. You may report the matter to the EEOC.

Is sexual harassment ever a criminal matter in California?

Yes, sexual harassment is a criminal matter in California according to the federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act or FEHA.

About Heather Bendinelli

Is your business ready to re-open? Do your employees know how to protect themselves and others from Covid-19? This website offers training for your employees to learn about proper PPE, hand washing, social distancing, and when to report to their employer if they have signs or symptoms of illness.