By: Mike Tucker and Eric Stevens
On September 9, 2014, Governor Brown approved AB 2053, which expands the types of training employers must provide to supervisory employees in regard to sexual harassment. Specifically, AB 2053 requires employers to include training addressing “abusive conduct.”
California Government Code § 12950.1 requires any public employer with 50 or more employees to provide sexual harassment training. AB 2053 amends this Section to incorporate the “prevention of abusive conduct” into such required training.
Therefore, all supervisory employees must be trained in the prevention of sexual harassment and abusive conduct within six months of the supervisor’s assumption of duties and every two years thereafter. While the training can be provided in multiple sessions, it must total at least two hours.
“Abusive conduct” is defined by the statute as conduct performed with malice, that a reasonable person would find “hostile, offensive and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.” Examples of such conduct may include derogatory, insulting verbal remarks or epithets, threatening, intimidating, or humiliating verbal or physical conduct, or the sabotaging or undermining of a person’s work performance. A single act will not normally constitute “abusive conduct” unless the single act is especially severe or egregious.
Prior to this amendment, workplace bullying was a legal grey area. With the changes, it is clear that the legislature wants employers to prevent workplace bullying through education and additional training.
As bullying remains a significant social issue, it is important for public employers to protect themselves and their employees from bullying’s costly effects. Girard & Edwards frequently provides sexual harassment training and would be happy to discuss how these new requirements can be incorporated into existing training resources.