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New Sexual Harassment Training Law -- Agents Counted in Threshold But Not Included in Training

Existing law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide at least 2 hours of prescribed training and education regarding sexual harassment, abusive conduct, and harassment based upon gender, to all supervisory employees within 6 months of their assumption of a supervisory position and once every 2 years. 

This new law lowers the threshold so that an employer with 5 or more employees -- or five or more persons who regularly provide services pursuant to a contract -- must provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of sexual harassment training to all nonsupervisory employees by January 1, 2020, and once every two years thereafter.

This means that salespersons and broker associates who are retained as independent contractors would likely be counted toward the “5 or more” threshold.  To be clear, agents retained as independent contractors are not required to take the training, only employees are. However, agents should be counted for purposes of calculating “five or more.”

For example, let’s say a brokerage firm has two employees but ten sales agents (who are independent contractors). Because there would be a total of five or more sales agents, the broker would be required to provide the anti-sexual harassment training, but only for the two employees and not for any of the sales agents – since the sales agents are retained as independent contractors and not employees.  

The responsible broker and all supervising employees must also take the training. If you have an employee, it follows that there is at least one person supervising them who must take the training as well. This person(s) would of course take the two-hour training for supervisory employees.

It is also recommended as a conservative risk management approach that any person who is in a position to hire, fire, reward or discipline an employee, or has the responsibility to direct an employee, should take the training for supervisory employees even if this person is retained as an independent contractor. A real estate salesperson acting as an office manager, for example, should take the training for supervisory employees. 

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing will develop two training courses that an employer may at his or her election have their employees view. This should help defray the cost associated with compliance. The compliance deadline for this law is January 1, 2020.

The bottom line is:

  • If you have five or more employees or even five or more agents, then all employees must take the training. Sales agents retained as independent contractors do not need to.

     

  • If even a single employee must take the training, then the responsible broker must also take the training along with all other persons who supervise employees. Erring on the side of caution, that includes anyone who is in a position to hire, fire, reward or discipline an employee, or who has the responsibility of directing an employee.

Beware of Price Gouging for Rental Housing After Declared Emergencies in Butte, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties

California law generally prohibits charging a price that exceeds, by more than 10 percent, the price of an item before a state or local declaration of emergency. This law applies to rental housing, among other services. The prohibition against raising rents by more than 10% will remain in effect for a minimum of 30 days following the declaration, but can be extended based upon the Governor’s executive orders. Importantly, the prohibition is not limited to the counties in which the states of emergency were declared but could apply anywhere affected by the disaster. 

Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in a one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violators are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory restitution. The Attorney General and local district attorneys can enforce the statute.

C.A.R. stands ready to assist REALTORS® who have been impacted by these wildfires through its Disaster Relief Fund. The Association established the fund in the wake of the 2003 California wildfires. Grants provided by the fund are used to help members of the REALTOR® family -- REALTORS®, their staff, and Association members and their staff -- who have incurred substantial losses due to wildfires and other disasters by distributing grants of up to $5,000. See our “California Wildfire Resources” page for details and for other resources concerning the wildfires.


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