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AB 1825 Sex Harassment Trainer

A free resource for California employers about the sexual harassment training law (AB 1825).

Waiting for Regulations

Sunday, February 27, 2005
AB 1825 leaves a number of questions without clear answers, e.g.:
  • who needs to be trained (how do you determine who's a supervisor)?
  • which employers need to train (how do you determine who has enough workers)?
  • what kind of training is required?
  • who's qualified to provide training?
I've already listed some interpretations of legal experts; I'll offer mine in later posts. Of course, it's all guesses until we get the official regulations.

Where are the "official regulations"? The state agency responsible for explaining how to comply with AB 1825 is the Fair Employment & Housing Commission (FEHC). Until recently, the FEHC didn't have a quorum (there were only 3 of the 7 Commissioners appointed), so they couldn't act officially. However, Arnold recently appointed two FEHC Commissioners, thus creating a quorum.

So, will the FEHC issue regulations, or are regulations anathema to a Republican administration? I spoke with an FEHC official, and he confirmed that the employer community has been calling for clarification, and the administration will likely want to help them out.

My guess is that the FEHC will propose regulations in the next 60 days, which will then be open to public comment, etc. I'd expect final rules the end of July.

Why did Arnold do it?

Saturday, February 26, 2005
Do you have any idea how much it will cost California employers to provide sexual harassment training to hundreds of thousands of "supervisors" in California? (Jackson Lewis says there are 1.7 million supervisors in California; overall, there's around 14 to 17 million employees in California.)

Why'd the state administration do it? Why cost California employers millions of dollars each year? There are the usual arguments: Training is effective to eliminate discriminatory misconduct, it's good social policy, it's about time (after all, Title VII has prohibited sex discrimination for 40 years, and female employees in California have had the right to wear pants for 10 years), it's a useful social experiment to maintain California's cutting-edge reputation, and so on.

My guess? I'd bet Arnold was too embarrassed to veto the bill. (Remember this and this and this sort of thing?) Otherwise, Arnold's practically in bed with the Chamber of Commerce (other than official events on his inaugural day, he partied only with family and the Chamber); Arnold signed-and-vetoed pro-Chamber (pro-employer) almost all the way. The Chamber opposed AB 1825 — until Arnold signed the bill. Now they sell AB 1825 training for about $200 per supervisor.

What do the lawyers say?

The professional legal experts obviously have a stake in interpreting the new law. After all, AB 1825 creates compliance obligations and a risk of liability for non-compliance. Lawyers are in the compliance/risk/liability business.

Here's what some of the top employment law merchants say about AB 1825:

AB 1825 : The Law

Friday, February 25, 2005
Let's start with the law and legislative background:

In 2004, the California Legislature enacted AB 1825. You can see AB 1825 in either html or pdf at the Legislature's site. This bill amended the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) by adding a new provision: Government Code section 12950.1.

Broadly, this new law requires "employers with 50 or more employees to provide 2 hours of training and education to all supervisory employees, as specified, within one year of January 1, 2005 ... [and] requires each employer to provide sexual harassment training and education to each supervisory employee once every 2 years, after January 1, 2006." [per the Legislative Counsel's Digest]

Also useful is the final Assembly Analysis.