Senior Executives Must Receive Harassment Prevention Training « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles

Senior Executives Must Receive Harassment Prevention Training

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City Settlement of Suit over Former San Diego Mayor Filner’s Conduct is a Case in Point

As relayed in our August 30, 2013 blog, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner left office in disgrace last summer on the heels of multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

In damning defense, Mr. Filner claimed the City never provided him sexual harassment training.  This prompted the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to charge the City with violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requirement to provide such training to its supervisory employees, including elected and appointed officials.

Without admitting liability, the City settled the DFEH claim for a reported $250,000 and on its pledge to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisory employees within six months of hire, election or appointment date, and every two years thereafter.  The City also agreed to report compliance to DFEH every six months for the next five years.

DFEH Director Phyllis Cheng announced, “This agreement serves as a model for other local government agencies to fully comply with the sexual harassment training required of all supervisors, including elected and appointed officials under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.”

Private employers should also take heed.  California Government Code section 12940(k) requires employers, no matter how many they employ, to take “all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring.”  FEHA also requires California companies with 50 or more employees to provide the same harassment training  to its supervisors and executives that the City of San Diego was cited for ignoring.

Failure of a covered employer to comply with those harassment training mandates could be used as evidence of that employer’s failure to take all reasonable prevention steps.