On January 1, 2021, SB-778 goes into effect. This law is actually the extension of a 2018 law requiring all employers with five or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training to their employees, allowing employers more time to comply than the original 2018 law, SB-1343, allowed for.
This benefits employers, but additional time extensions are unlikely. Now is the time to prepare for compliance.
Who needs to be trained and when?
All employees count for the purposes of creating an obligation of this requirement, including part-time and temporary employees. The employees don’t even have to work at the same location.
New nonsupervisory employees must be provided with the training within six months of hire, and supervisory employees must get the training within 6 months of the assumption of the supervisory position. You must pay your employees to take this training and you must cover the costs of the training.
SB-778 training requirements
There are specific requirements for the training itself. For example, it must “include information and practical guidance regarding the federal and state statutory provisions concerning the prohibition against and the prevention and correction of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in employment.”
In addition, the training may not be limited to sexual harassment. “Training provided must be inclusive of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.”
In short, the purpose of the law is to prevent harassment at work in offices and job sites across the state.
SB-778 compliance might help reduce EPL claims
Meeting this requirement isn’t just necessary for the purposes of regulatory compliance. Preventing harassment in the workplace can help reduce the number of Employment Practices Liability (EPL) claims that an organization must make, lowering premiums and reducing liability costs.
IB&C Insurance Services makes SB-778 compliance simple
If you’re concerned about the costs of training, about finding a program that meets the state’s legal requirements, or about making sure the training is effective, you don’t have to be.
IB&C offers a free human resources software portal called the Risk Management Center and the HR & Benefits Library. It includes thousands of resources on minimizing Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) claims.
For example, the HR & Benefits Library is full of attorney-developed content designed to help you stay compliant with HR law. This includes remaining in compliance with regulations like COBRA, HIPAA, FMLA, USERRA, ADA, and health care reform. It includes both federal and state resources, as well as hundreds of downloadable forms, policies, and checklists.
The portal includes information on how to hire and terminate employees without incurring lawsuits. It also includes an employee handbook that may be customized to match your company’s operations and unique policies while ensuring you do not forget to include anything that an employee handbook ought to offer to provide your company with the maximum amount of protection. It also includes a library of HR training videos.
It is essentially like having an entire HR department working for you without forcing you to build one from the ground up.
It also includes training seminars and programs, including SB 778-compliant sexual harassment discrimination training.
This is all included with your EPL and sexual harassment insurance coverage, as well as with any other insurance policy you purchase from IB&C.
Make sure you have the right EPL coverage
If you haven’t yet taken the time to secure EPL coverage, now is the time to do so. Sexual harassment damages can cost companies a great deal of money, especially if the victim also has grounds for a wrongful termination suit. For example, in the 2011 case Green V. LAIBCO the appellate court awarded the plaintiff $1,237,086 in compensatory damages and an equal amount in punitive damages.
With SB-1343 and SB-778 in place, you can expect courts to be even less forgiving with employers who allow their employees to create a hostile environment. Remember, a disgruntled employee can launch a lawsuit whether you believe it has merit or not, and there will still be costs associated with defending yourself.
In addition to securing training, securing the EPLI insurance you need to protect your company is the best way to prepare yourself for the current and future legal and regulatory climate in California.