California Sexual Harassment Training Course Primer

The Sunshine State sets a high bar for workplace legal compliance. As the saying goes “As Goes California, So Goes The Nation.” Teams in California know first-hand that there’s a lot to cover when it comes to meeting the state’s rigorous sexual harassment training requirements.

Here are some quick resources to get you started.

What is California’s harassment prevention law?

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits harassment based on a protected category against an employee, and applicant, an unpaid intern or volunteer, or a contractor. Under FEHA, harassment is prohibited in all workplaces — even those with fewer than five employees.

Did you know? Ethena launched in 2020 with Sexual Harassment Prevention training. Check out our course page for more information about bringing compliance training for today’s teams to your organization.

How is sexual harassment defined in California?

Under California state regulations, sexual harassment is defined as “unwanted sexual advances or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This definition includes many forms of offensive behavior and includes gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex as the harasser.”

Some examples of sexual harassment under CA law:

Verbal conduct: Making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs and jokes. Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual.

Visual conduct: Leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons or posters.

Physical conduct: Touching, assault, impeding or blocking movements.

Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors.

Making or threatening retaliatory action after receiving a negative response to sexual advances.

Interested in training your California team to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace? Request a demo today to learn about Ethena’s unique approach and dynamic content.
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Reporting sexual harassment in California

CA law protections are broader than federal.

CA also protects independent contractors, volunteers, and unpaid interns. So if you’re getting coffee as part of your “internship,” you’re protected.

No company is too small.

Under CA law, harassment is prohibited in workplaces of all sizes, so a company could employ 100 people or just one and still be held responsible.

Sexual harassment is a big deal for CA employers.

Managers are personally liable for harassment in California. So if a manager sees an example of harassment, they are mandated to report ASAP.

Harassment doesn’t need to be from coworkers.

CA law protects you from harassment by people who don’t even work with you, like customers, clients, etc. An employer must take reasonable steps to stop or protect employees from non-employee harassment.

How to report sexual harassment in California


To report sexual harassment in California, file complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) via their Intake Form. Complaints can be done online or by mail. If you have any questions, please call (800) 884-1684, Relay Service at 711 or email [email protected]. Remember, you must file a complaint within one year of the date you were harmed.

Note: The EEOC and the DFEH have a work sharing agreement, so you only need to file with one agency as long as you indicate with your filing agency that you wish to cross-file between the two.

Within 365 days of the incident
File online via the Intake Form

Why do you need Harassment Prevention training courses?

Harassment is pervasive. A 2018 Pew survey found that 59% of women and 27% of men reported experiencing sexual harassment. Of those that reported experiencing sexual harassment, 69% of women and 61% of men experienced it at work or both at work and outside of work.

These numbers have a very real implication. They mean you may have experienced harassment at work. And if you haven’t, it’s likely you have friends and colleagues who have.

Being a victim of harassment profoundly impacts a person at work, including lower job satisfaction and a higher intention to leave the workplace, and can extend to physical and emotional health.

Undeniably, being treated disrespectfully at work is bad for you and for your workplace.

Still got questions about how California sexual harassment prevention training can help your teams? We’ve got answers. Reach out now to talk to our sales team!
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