Teaching Your Supervisors Not to Abuse or Harass: It’s the Law
Most of us would like to believe that creating a harassment free environment is common sense to the supervisors we hire – but time and again, companies find themselves shocked and dismayed by the inappropriate actions of those under their employment.
Yes, it is possible for you to hire a manager who will commit quid pro quo harassment. And it’s not uncommon to hire an employee who fancies him or herself a comedian, but all too often veers into off-color comedy in the break room. These things happen. But as a company, you are still responsible for doing your part to prevent them.
And that’s where AB 1825 comes into play. Originally enacted in California in January of 2005, it mandates two hours of sexual harassment prevention training for supervisors at least every two years for companies with 50 or more employees. This has been going on for 10 years now – so hopefully it’s not a surprise. But as of January of 2015, a new addendum has gone into effect to include training on the “prevention of abusive conduct.”
What is Abusive Conduct?
The law itself defines “abusive conduct” pretty broadly – but the description basically amounts to anything that constitutes workplace bullying. Derogatory remarks, insults, and verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating or humiliating are all included. Unlike the bill’s previous focus on preventing behaviors already prohibited by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), this addendum is more focused on preventing harassment of any kind, regardless of the motivating factor.
Meaning, that harassment doesn’t have to be sexual in nature to be deemed abusive.
How Does this Change Your Previous Trainings?
Employers still need to plan on conducting the previously required sexual harassment training, but they should now also be revising and expanding that training to include presentations about identifying and preventing abusive conduct. In compliance with this new shift, you may also want to consider updating policies in order to include provisions about preventing an abusive work environment. And while this training is required for all supervisors every 2 years, newly hired supervisors should receive it within six months of beginning their supervisory roles.
As with all legislated trainings and procedures, it doesn’t count unless you track it – so be sure to keep valid records of when your trainings take place and who is in attendance. You should also maintain records of what your training entails, both to use as a resource for subsequent trainings, and to have on hand as proof of course materials.
When in Doubt
While the requirements for how these trainings are conducted or who can present them have not changed, there are specifics every company should be meeting in order to remain in compliance. Should you have concerns about your training materials or how your trainings are being conducted, Allevity can assist in ensuring you are on the right track.