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New Sexual Harassment at Work Law- What You Need to Know

With the recent presidential election, sexual harassment has again come to the forefront in the public's mind. There is never an excuse for sexual harassment, but employers and employees now know exactly what constitutes such conduct in the workplace. On April 1, a new law went into effect requiring California employers to disseminate information regarding Department of Fair Employment and Housing's DFEH-185 Brochure on Sexual Harassment. What's more, any new hires receive the information immediately. This legislation expands the state's already required discrimination and harassment training. Previously, some employers believed electronic training was sufficient for getting the message about sexual harassment across. That is no longer the case - some in-person training is mandatory. The training uses concrete examples to get the point across. Record keeping is more stringent, with employers required to keep documentation of all training materials for a minimum of two years.

Small Workplaces

Previously, employers with fewer than five workers were not subject to Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). In some situations, that is changing. For example, if you work in a small, two to four person subsidiary office of a larger company based out-of-state, your employer is now subject to the new regulations.

Complaint Process

Employers must set up a complaint process system so employees can safely and confidentially have their claims investigated. This process also ensures that the employee does not have to report the harassment to the immediate supervisor. Options include human resources personnel, a company ombudsman or access to a complaint hotline. The employee may also report the issue to state and federal agencies. The complaint process must include:

  • Timely response and investigation
  • Full tracking and documentation
  • Appropriate measures taken if the claim is substantiated
  • Protection of the employee from retaliation.

Gender Expressions

The new law defines different types of gender identity. Overall, "gender expression" refers to an individual's behavior and appearance, regardless of whether it fits gender stereotypes of male or female. "Gender identity" is somewhat different, and relates to whether the person identifies as male or female, no matter what sex was assigned at birth. "Transgender" refers to someone no identifying with the sex assigned at birth.

Failure to Train

If your employer does not follow the new training and dissemination law and you are sexually harassed, you may have not only a sexual harassment case but a labor law claim as well.

Contact an Attorney

If you are subjected to sexual harassment at work, call our experienced lawyers for a free consultation to discuss the matter. Contact us online or call 714-462-3641 or toll free at 866-545-2415.


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