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Size Matters When Protecting Your Business From Legal Liability With CA SB 1343

If you have 5+ employees you may be liable

Did you know that your business is required by law to train all of your employees in 2019 thanks to the California SB1343 mandatory sexual harassment prevention training? Did you even know you were liable, let alone if you are equipped to handle this requirement? It used to be that you only had to care if your company has 50+ employees, but now that requirement starts for organizations as low as 5 employees.

While not everyone has the time to focus on the constant changes in labor laws, especially the potential legal liability of training, it is still a requirement of every business leader to comply. Small businesses in California now have a huge task at hand, those specifically with 5+ employees.

Typically, businesses of this size don’t have a Human Resources Professional on- site, let alone an HR department. How are businesses planning on juggling generating revenue, whilst protecting themselves from legal risk to comply with the mandated sexual harassment prevention training law in 2019?

The Me Too movement (or #MeToo movement), a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag on social media in an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. The movement gave people the courage to speak out about sexual harassment and subsequently new laws have been passed to prevent harassment and to protect employees who come forward.

In the Wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp Movements, California has strengthened Sexual Harassment Prevention Training requirements on January 1, 2019, with the mandate to strengthen and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers should be aware of changes in the law with the new requirements in the areas of:

• Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Mandates

• Corporate boards now to include women

• Lowering the Burden of Proof to Establish Harassment

Previously, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) required employers with 50 or more employees to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors within six months of hire and once every two years thereafter.

Amended, FEHA mandate now applies to employers with five or more employees and additionally requires that employers provide at least one hour of training (made available in multiple languages) to all nonsupervisory employees by January 1, 2020.

It’s not a secret that the ramifications can be disastrous, not only financially to employers in damages and litigation costs, but it can destroy business reputations and careers, as we have witnessed in the media. Not to minimize the indirect business impact on your employees like, low morale, absenteeism, reduced productivity, and employee turnover. It is up to us as HR professionals to step in and protect organizations from themselves.

The challenge for businesses now includes many other considerations above and beyond training compliance, a few examples include:

• the creation and administration of policies, processes, record keeping,

• proof of completion,

• and ongoing tracking.

Additionally, you will need to keep up with the understanding, handling, and managing of ongoing compliance changes with more mandates effective in 2020. These include temporary, seasonal, and part-time workers, etc.

As a globally certified Human Resource Professional who has worked with both employees and independent contractors with 20 years of practical experience in designing, conducting discrimination, retaliation and sexual harassment prevention training; responding to sexual harassment complaints or other discrimination complaints; conducting investigations of sexual harassment complaints; advising employers or employees regarding discrimination, retaliation and sexual harassment prevention. Which brings me to a series of blogs that focus what we can do NOW to implement and comply with these Sexual Harassment Compliance Challenges.

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