9/9/14 – New in CA: Harassment Training Must Now Cover “Abusive Conduct”

There are times when our legislature gets it right, and today Governor Brown signed AB 2053 which requires employers to now cover “abusive conduct” in their harassment prevention training.  I have always included examples of “bullying” and other abusive conduct in my training, now it’s the law.

As a refresher, Govt. Code section 12950.1  requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide a minimum of two-hours of training every two years to supervisors to ensure workplaces are free of sexual harassment.  The training must cover California and federal laws prohibiting sexual harassment, prevention and correction, as well as the remedies available to those who experience of sexual harassment.  The statute also requires the training include practical examples demonstrating how to identify, prevent, and correct sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.  Of course, all good employers will include not just sexual harassment, but all the protected characteristics in the training examples.

The new amendment states “abusive conduct means conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. Abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. A single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.”

Don’t forget, bullying (or abusive conduct) is not unlawful. Yet. Over 25 states have tried to enact anti-bullying legislation. Let’s not give people another reason to sue you in California.

If you need help with the new training requirement, please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you would like an anti-bullying policy – free – just send me an email. Everyone has to take steps to stop abusive conduct.

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