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New Abusive Conduct Training Required for California Employers

Effective January 1, 2015, employers with more than 50 employees are required to include in their mandated supervisor training a component on the prevention of abusive conduct in the workplace.

Existing law requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide sexual harassment training to supervisors within six months of their hiring and then once every two years thereafter. Assembly Bill No. 2053, signed into law by Governor Brown on September 9, 2014, expands the scope of training required by AB 1825 to include an element on the prevention of abusive conduct in the workplace. "Abusive conduct" is defined in the statute as malicious conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to the employer's legitimate business interests.

The mandated workplace training required is intended to "establish a minimum threshold" regarding workplace harassment prevention. It does not, however, specify the amount of time to be allotted to abusive conduct prevention within the obligatory two-hour sexual harassment training. And unlike AB 1825, the statute governing sexual harassment training, AB 2053 does not establish specific training methods or learning objectives.

Although Assembly Bill No. 2053 expressly states that it does not create a private cause of action against the employer, "an employer's compliance with [the statute] does not insulate the employer from liability" under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Moreover, the legislation requires employers to "meet [their] obligations to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent and correct harassment and discrimination."

AB 2053 is a straightforward addition to the existing supervisor training required by AB 1825. Nevertheless, covered employers should adjust their workplace and conduct policies, as well as their training, disciplinary, and complaint procedures, to ensure compliance with AB 2053 before it becomes law in 2015.

Contact Terence L. Greene if your business needs additional information or training on California's required workplace supervisor trainings.

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