Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Elected Officials in California (AB 1661)

Existing law does not explicitly state that city elected officials are required to take a sexual harassment prevention training and education course, which has allowed each city to interpret the law differently.  Newly passed AB 1661 clarifies that local agency officials must complete sexual harassment training, just like any other public employee.

Under AB 1661, if they receive any type of compensation from a local agency, local agency officials must now receive sexual harassment prevention training.  In fact, under AB 1661, a local agency may require any of its employees to receive sexual harassment prevention training.  

A “local agency” for the purpose of this law includes cities, counties, special districts, and charter cities and counties.  A “local agency official” means any member of the agency’s legislative body and any elected official of the agency. 

The official must receive the training within the first 6 months of taking office or commencing employment, and thereafter every 2 years.  There are a number of criteria for these trainings, including:

  • The training must be at least 2 hours.
  • The training must include information regarding the federal and state statutes prohibiting sexual harassment; the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; and practical examples to instruct the official in the prevention of sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.
  • The presenter of the training must be a trainer or educator with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.
  • The training may also be in the form of a self-study course with tests, which the official may take at home, in person, or online.
  • The training provider must provide participants with proof of participation.

In addition, the agency must keep records for at least five years of the dates the officials or employees took the training and the name of the entity that provided the training.

AB 1661 aims to create uniformity, to improve health and safety, and to establish clear rules with respect to appropriate conduct in the work place. The drafters of the bill also hope it will minimize loss in revenue to local agencies associated with settlement claims for sexual harassment.

By Anne Yen | October 4, 2016

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