New Laws re Sexual Harassment Training
· Training required for all employees, not just supervisors by the end of 2019. Size of business threshold lowered from 50 to five “employees”
· Proposed regulations may expand requirement to include independent contractors
· A separate law expands sexual harassment liability for real estate agents in a professional relationship with their clients
· Summary of training requirements and recommendations
· Course for employees now available. Supervisor’s course coming in June.
CAR continues to strive to provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding new California laws and regulations, we are pleased to provide a course to help you meet these requirements. Click Here to purchase the course for employee training which is now available.
Existing law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide at least 2 hours of prescribed training and education regarding sexual harassment, abusive conduct, and harassment based upon gender, to all supervisory employees within 6 months of their assumption of a supervisory position and once every 2 years.
The new law lowers the threshold so that an employer with 5 or more employees, or even five or more salespersons or brokers even if independent contractors, including temporary or seasonal employees, must provide at least 2 hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of sexual harassment training to all non-supervisory employees by January 1, 2020, and once every 2 years thereafter.
This law also requires the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to develop or obtain 1-hour and 2-hour online training courses and informational posters on the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace and to post them on the department’s Internet Web site.
See Senate Bill 1343 codified as Government Code §§ 12950 and 12950.1. Effective January 1, 2019. Compliance deadline is January 1, 2020.
Although it appears the above law does not require sales agents or brokers retained as independent contractors to take the training, proposed regulations which may be adopted this year, could expand the requirement to include independent contractors. Under the proposed regulations the definition of “employee” will include persons providing services pursuant to contract. Click here to view the Fair Employment & Housing Council Proposed Final Text of Employment Regulations Regarding Definitions; Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Correction; and Training.
Real Estate Agent to Client Liability Expanded
Recent changes in the law have lowered the bar for a client to sue an agent for sexual harassment. Under a newly enacted expansion of this law, even if a business, service, or professional “relationship” does not presently exist, a real estate agent may be liable for sexual harassment when he or she holds himself or herself out as being able to help the client professionally. It does not matter that the client may easily terminate the relationship.
See Senate Bill 224 codified as Civil Code § 51.9, and Government Code §§ 12930 and 12948. Effective January 1, 2019.
Summary of Training Requirements and Recommendations
Question: I am a broker with five sales agents who are independent contractors. Are the independent contractors required to take the sexual harassment training?
Answer: Currently, no. But if you have any employees at all, even just one employee, then the employee(s) would have to take the training. Additionally, regulations are pending which could require the independent contractors to take this training as well, if adopted.
Bottom Line recommendations:
For employee training. If you have five or more employees or even five or more salespersons or brokers even if independent contractors, then by January 1, 2020, all employees must have taken the one-hour training.
For sales agent training. The law currently does not require sales agents or brokers retained as independent contractors to take the training. However, as discussed above, proposed regulations which may be adopted in 2019 could expand the requirement to include independent contractors.
In any event, since real estate agent to client liability was expanded (as discussed above), it is highly recommended that sales agents, too, take the training even if retained as independent contractors.
For supervisor training. If you have five or more employees or even five or more independent contractors (sales persons or broker associates), then by January 1, 2020, all “supervisory employees” must have taken the two-hour supervisor training. Please note that many supervisor/office managers are employees, and if so, they would be required to take the training.
As a risk management precaution, CAR strongly recommend that the responsible broker take the supervisory training along with all other persons who supervise agents or employees. This will include anyone who is in a position to hire, fire, reward or discipline an employee or independent contractor licensee, or who has the responsibility of directing an employee or independent contractor licensee. This recommendation applies regardless of how many employees or independent contractors have been retained.