CA AB 2053 Requires “Abusive Conduct” Training


 

By: Dale Mask

California's AB 2053 Requires Sexual Harassment Training to Include Prevention of “Abusive Conduct” (Bullying)

AB 2053 is often referred to as the “anti-bullying” law. Although AB 2053 does not prohibit “abusive conduct”, it does require that all “sexual harassment” training required by AB 1825 includes training on the prevention of “abusive conduct”.

This new requirement signals a wider recognition of bullying as a workplace problem that needs to be addressed. In fact, several states including New York, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, all have Healthy Workplace Bills pending. Tennessee passed a law encouraging public employers to create anti-bullying policies. And, it should be noted, laws have passed in Canada, the UK and Europe that address bullying in the workplace. In general, these laws are aimed at destructive workplace behaviors that do not quite fall into the traditional harassment and discrimination categories.

Sexual harassment training is required by AB 1825 which requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training for supervisors located in California.

As of January 1, 2015, AB 1825 anti-harassment training must also include training on the "prevention of abusive conduct." The new law defines "abusive conduct" as:

"[C]onduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. Abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. A single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious."

As you can see, the definition is broad and leaves significant room for interpretation. But, proponents of the new law argue that "workplace bullying" is a growing epidemic that undermines employee productivity and morale.

The new law does not create a private right of action for abusive conduct – meaning an employee can’t file bring a lawsuit claiming abusive conduct – but it does the law requires supervisory employees are trained on the prevention of abusive conduct in the workplace.

What should employers do about CA AB 2053?

  • Revise and expand AB 1825 training materials to include on "abusive conduct" in all training session conducted on or after January 1, 2015.
  • Consider revision of policies – Employers fall under AB 1825 training requirements should, with legal counsel, consider addressing the issue of abusive conduct in their Employee Handbooks and anti-harassment policies.
  • Comply with training obligations

Alliance Training has been incorporating the issues of abusive conduct and bullying into our onsite sexual harassment training for some time now. Learn more about our sexual harassment harassment prevention courses.

By: Dale Mask

© 2015 Alliance Training and Consulting, Inc.


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