From the Hotline: California Supervisor Defined, and Sexual Harassment Training

Question: Based upon a recent acquisition of a small California company (less than 40 employees) and the remainder of our 650 employees not working in California, are we subject to the California law to provide sexual harassment training to our employees? If so, how often, and how does California define a “supervisor” or someone in a “supervisory role”?

Answer: California’s Assembly Bill 1825 (AB 1825) requires each employer with 50 or more employees to provide two hours of interactive sexual harassment training and education to each supervisory employee once every two years and to all new supervisory employees within six months of their assumption of a supervisory role. The 50-employee threshold includes full time, part time and temporary workers who are working anywhere in the world, so you must include all of your employees in the eligibility count, even if they reside or work outside of California. However, only those supervisors located in California need to receive AB 1825 training, although we do recommend that managers and supervisors outside of California also receive the training, especially those who supervise California employees remotely.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act’s (FEHA) definition of “supervisor” is broad and allows for some interpretation; it covers many employees who don’t necessarily have “manager” in their title. FEHA’s definition states a supervisor is any individual who possesses the authority “to hire, transfer, suspend, layoff, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other employees, or the responsibility to direct them… if the exercise of that authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment.” This definition depends solely on how an employee carries out his or her job responsibilities and not on an individual’s exempt or nonexempt status.