Seyfarth Synopsis: California employers racing to ensure all their employees receive mandatory harassment training by the end of the year can now take their foot off the gas. In response to an outcry from employer groups regarding the challenge of compliance at breakneck speed, the Legislature and Governor Newsom have extended the new training deadline for a year.

Faithful readers of this blog will recall that the 2018 legislation bringing us many other harassment-related provisions (SB 1343) greatly expanded sexual harassment training requirements (described here). Starting in 2019, under SB 1343, employers of as few as five people (down from fifty employees under the prior law) must provide two hours of interactive training to their supervisors. In addition, all such employers must now provide one hour of interactive training to all non-supervisory employees. SB 1343 served to greatly increase the number of employers covered and the volume of trainings required, and it set deadlines for the training. Employers around the state had geared up, started their engines, and raced to meet this aggressive deadline.

Then Governor Newsom waved a yellow flag. In his first lap around the bill-signing track, he tapped the brakes right before Labor Day by signing Senate Bill 778, no doubt to cheers and popped bottles of milk from employers across the state. SB 778—effective immediately upon the Governor’s August 30, 2019 signature—extends the deadline for non-supervisory employee training from January 1, 2020 until January 1, 2021. SB 778 also clears up confusion regarding the deadline to train supervisors trained under prior legal training requirements, since one interpretation of SB 1343 would have required supervisors trained in 2018 to be re-trained prior to the end of 2019. SB 778 now confirms that those supervisors who received 2018 training need not be trained again until 2020, so employers can go back to following their normal pace cars on existing supervisor training.

The training requirements for newly hired supervisory employees have not been changed in SB 778, and employers still must train new hires within six months of starting a supervisory position.

Workplace Solutions:

This welcome delay in the training deadline is no excuse to fall asleep at the wheel. Make a pit stop with your favorite Seyfarth advisor to determine the best way to ensure compliance before the new deadline catches you from behind.

Edited by Coby Turner