If you thought the California Department of Fair Employment (“DFEH”) was not busy monitoring compliance with employers’ sexual harassment prevention training obligations, think again. The DFEH recently entered into a settlement agreement with the City of San Diego concerning its failure to provide mandatory sexual harassment training to city supervisors, including elected and appointed officials. The issue came to the fore when former Mayor, Bob Filner, who resigned during the scandal, claimed in defense of sexual harassment charges brought against him by former staffers that the City had failed to provide him with the necessary sexual harassment prevention training. The DFEH jumped on this allegation, filed a Complaint, and, after investigating, entered into negotiations with San Diego to correct any problems. While San Diego’s City Attorney, Jan Goldsmith, noted that it is the mayor’s office that is responsible for compliance with the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s training requirements, she explained that in approving the settlement, the San Diego City Council had shown its support for the training protocol.
Under the agreement, without admitting liability, San Diego agreed to provide at least two hours of online sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisory employees, including all elected and appointed officials, within six months of their hire, election or appointment date, and every two years thereafter. These are the same requirements all California employers of 50 or more must meet. In addition, for the next five years, San Diego will report its compliance to the DFEH every six months. Compliance will likely be easier for San Diego because the DFEH’s sexual harassment prevention webinars are free for government agencies.
So, another resolution to add to this year’s New Year’s list for public and private employers alike. Happy 2014!