On October 15, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation that will expand the content of the mandatory sexual harassment training that employers with at least 50 employees must give to supervisory employees. As of January 1, 2018, the training must include harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
The final version of the bill, S.B. 396, cleared the state assembly on September 14 with a vote of 58-16; it passed the senate the following day by a 28-8 ballot.
Mandatory sexual harassment training. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers with at least 50 employees are required to provide at least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education on sexual harassment to all supervisory employees within six months after they assume a supervisory position, as well as once every two years. S.B. 396 mandates that a component of that training and education for supervisors must include harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
Posting requirement added. The legislation also adds another employer posting requirement in addition to the already mandated poster on discrimination in employment, which includes information about the illegality of sexual harassment and which must be displayed in a prominent and accessible location in the workplace. Employers will also be required to post a poster on transgender rights developed by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
WIOA expansion. S.B. 396 expands the definition of an “individual with employment barriers” under the California Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to include transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. The legislation also authorizes the appointments to the board created under the WIOA to include representatives of community-based organizations that serve transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.
Workplace discrimination. A senate analysis of S.B. 396 points to Equality California’s contention that “Transgender and gender nonconforming workers disproportionately experience negative employment actions, such as the failure to hire or promote, demotions, terminations, restrictions on their gender expression, and hostile workplace environments resulting from bias. Moreover, studies indicate that transgender people are the most economically marginalized, with twice the poverty rate of the general population and an unemployment rate of 70 percent. In addition, a staggering 90 percent report harassment, mistreatment, and discrimination on the job, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.”
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