SEXUAL HARASSMENT: IT'S THE LAW IN CALIFORNIA
on Sexual Harassment and Current Training Laws
employers have trained managers and employees on preventing unlawful
discrimination and harassment in the workplace for years. Such training
helps employers avoid conflicts that result in litigation and can
also help defend against lawsuits if they arise.
Legal Requirements for Training
course of action has become a legal responsibility since Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1825 on September 30, 2004.
The bill requires employers of 50 or more (including temporary service
employees and independent contractors, in California, or out of state),
to provide supervisors with a minimum of two hours sexual harassment
training every two years.
Is This Needed At This Time?
sexual harassment is a serious problem in the United States, and the
dimensions of the problem continue to expand. In fact, the largest
sexual harassment case in the nation's history was filed recently
by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EECO) and 350 female
employees against Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America. The total
award in this class-action suit was $34 million, nearly $100,000 for
each plaintiff. This, of course, is only the most costly and most
publicized incident of its kind.
EEOC reviews more than 15,000 sexual harassment cases annually, with
jury awards frequently reaching $500,000 (including punitive damages).
Such cases currently account for approximately 20 percent of the case
load at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Damage awards can be levied against both the individuals who commit
sexual harassment and the organizations that employ them. Thus, it's
imperative that employees and management alike understand the legal
and social implications of such activity.
harassment is a serious issue for the management of any organization
because it damages employee morale, impacts careers, and negatively
affects the bottom line (legal costs and punitive damages). It also
creates high absenteeism, low productivity and employee turnover.
Managers must take all sexual harassment complaints seriously, since
they can be held personally liable and sued separately for mishandling
a complaint. Sexual harassment is a potential problem for every worker
and employer. It is inappropriate, antisocial behavior, and it's the
responsibility of both management and individual employees to ensure
that sexual harassment is never tolerated in the workplace.
About Sexual Harassment
( From the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal
or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment
when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly
affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an
individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile
or offensive work environment.
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including
but not limited to the following:
victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim
does not have to be of the opposite sex.
The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer,
a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be
anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to
or discharge of the victim.
The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.
It is helpful for the victim to directly inform the harasser that
the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any
employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.
When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, EEOC looks at
the whole record: the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual
advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred.
A determination on the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case
Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the
workplace. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent
sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate
to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can
do so by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process
and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.
Harassment Statistics in the Workplace
Studies suggest anywhere between 40-70% of women and 10-20% of men
have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
Approximately 15,000 sexual harassment cases are brought to the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year. According to the
EEOC, the number of sexual harassment complaints filed by men has
more than tripled in recent years. Currently, approximately 11% of
claims involve men filing against female supervisors.
A 1999 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management states
that 62% of companies offer sexual harassment prevention training
programs, and 97% have a written sexual harassment policy.
A telephone poll conducted by Louis Harris and Associates on 782 workers
31% of the female workers claimed to have been harassed at work
• 7% of the male workers claimed to have been harassed at
• 62% of targets took no action
• 100% of women claimed the harasser was a man
• 59% of men claimed the harasser was a woman
• 41% of men claimed the harasser was another man
The High Cost of Sexual Harassment – Some Typical Cases
In Briseno v. Diamond Video World Inc., 99 D.L.R. A-6 (Cal. Ct. App.
5/22/2002) (unpublished opinion), the California Court of Appeal affirmed
the $10,608 jury verdict for sex harassment of a former employee of
an adult video store and the $19,123 attorney's fee award. Briseno
v. Diamond Video World Inc., 99 D.L.R. A-6 (Cal. Ct. App. 5/22/2002)
June 15, 2002 - Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt
jury recently awarded $30 million in punitive damages to six female
supermarket workers who accused their employer, Ralphs Grocery Company,
of sexual harassment under California’s Fair Employment and
Housing Act (the “FEHA”).
May 01, 2002 - O'Melveny & Myers LLP
Specifically What Training Is Required By AB 1825
Training must be provided to all employees who have "supervisory
authority," which generally includes anyone having the authority
to exercise independent judgment to:
Hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign,
reward, or discipline other employees;
• Direct the work of other employees or adjust their grievances;
• Effectively recommend any of these actions.
All employees who make recommendations to managers about such matters
must receive training if their recommendations are likely to be acted
The law will be implemented in two phases. First, supervisors employed
as of July 1, 2005 must receive two hours of training by January 1,
2006. If a supervisor is hired or promoted into a supervisory position
after July 1, 2005, the training must be completed within six months
of hire or promotion. Supervisors who have received training after
January 1, 2003 need not be re-trained by January 1, 2006.
The second phase begins January 1, 2006. The law requires ongoing
training for all supervisors within six months of becoming supervisors,
and providing them with at least two hours of anti-harassment training
every two years.
The training must include information and practical guidance regarding
federal and state sexual harassment laws, including harassment prevention
and correction, and remedies available to victims. The training must
be "interactive," and should include opportunities for discussion,
role-playing, and a question and answer session or other similar techniques
led by a qualified trainer.
Failure to provide this training may be seen as grounds for punitive
damages in a sexual harassment lawsuit. And, the Department of Fair
Employment and Housing may order a non-compliant employer to provide
What Should You Do?
The ACA Group at www.theacagroup.com. Arrange for training
our "Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace" Training