Root Communication

San Diego, CA, USA

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Harassment Prevention FAQ's

What is Sexual Harassment?

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing defines sexual harassment as: “unwanted sexual advances, or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”  Prohibited behavior does not have to be of a sexual nature, it applies to any gender based harassment (including same sex harassment) and encompasses supervisors, co-workers, clients and customers.  Prohibited conduct includes, but is not limited to:

Visual conduct: Inappropriate gestures, sexually suggestive pictures, looking someone “up and down”. 

Verbal conduct: Sexual comments about others’ bodies, jokes and stories of a sexual nature, sexually degrading language.  

Physical conduct:  Blocking pathways, touching others, assault. 

Quid Pro Quo Harassment: Exchange of sexual favors for employment benefits, or denying benefits because of a refusal for sexual favors.

Hostile Work Environment: When unwelcome conduct based on sex unreasonably interferes with work performance and creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment (www.dfeh.ca.gov & www.eeco.gov).

What are the Sexual Harassment Training Requirements for California?

California employers with five or more employees must provide training for all employees in California by January 1, 2020.  The training must be provided every two years and within six months of an employee assuming a position.  Employers must provide two hours of effective interactive training to supervisors and one hour of effective interactive training to non-supervisory employees.  A supervisor is, “anyone with authority to hire, fire, assign, transfer, discipline, or reward other employees. A supervisor is also anyone with the authority to effectively recommend (but not necessarily take) these actions if exercising that authority requires the use of independent judgment.” (www.dfeh.ca.gov).  Employers are required to provide sexual harassment prevention training via in-person in a classroom like setting, through interactive e-leaning or through a webinar.  Additionally, the training must include application activities, interaction, examples and leaning assessments.    

What is Sexual Harassment Prevention Training?

Employers use sexual harassment prevention training as a mechanism to prevent harassment in the workplace.  California mandates sexual harassment training to all California employers with five or more employees and lists specific content areas to be covered in the training.  According to the DFEH, “any training must explain:

  • The definition of sexual harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964;

  • The statutes and case-law prohibiting and preventing sexual harassment;

  • The types of conduct that can be sexual harassment;

  • The remedies available for victims of sexual harassment;

  • Strategies to prevent sexual harassment;

  • Supervisors’ obligation to report harassment;

  • Practical examples of harassment;

  • The limited confidentiality of the complaint process;

  • Resources for victims of sexual harassment, including to whom they should report it;

  • How employers must correct harassing behavior;

  • What to do if a supervisor is personally accused of harassment;

  • The elements of an effective anti-harassment policy and how to use it;

  • “Abusive conduct” under Government Code section 12950.1, subdivision (g)(2).

  • Discuss harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, which shall include practical examples inclusive of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.” (www.dfeh.ca.gov)


Employers are required to provide sexual harassment prevention training via in-person in a classroom like setting, through interactive e-leaning or through a webinar.  Additionally, the training must include application activities, interaction, examples and leaning assessments.  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Task Force on Harassment in the Workplace found that training is most effective when, “conducted by qualified, live, and interactive trainers.” (www.eeoc.gov).