California Adopts New Anti-Harassment Law That Covers Most Yoga Studios and Wellness Businesses

Recent legislation concerning ethics in California will have a significant effect on yoga studios and wellness businesses in California starting on January 1, 2020.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (the “Act”) prohibits discrimination, harassment and retaliation of employees. The Act requires that employers “take reasonable steps to prevent and correct wrongful (harassing, discriminatory, retaliatory) behavior in the workplace The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (the “DFEH”) is the state’s enforcement agency for the Act.

The new law, S.B.1343, requires that all employers that have five or more employees provide one hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to non-managerial employees and two hours of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to managerial employees once every two years.

This means that if you are a yoga studio or wellness business and you have five or more employees in California, then you have to provide mandatory training. If you only use independent contractors, then  you do not have to comply with the new law. If your business is not located in California you do not have to comply with this law but you should check the employment laws of your state to make sure that it does not have similar requirements.

Existing law requires that the trainings must cover harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, to include practical examples of such harassment and to be provided by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in those areas.

The new law also requires the DFEH to provide both training courses on its website, which employers may use instead of hiring an outside trainer.

However, employers may develop their own training platforms, as long as they comply with the new law’s requirements. Many yoga studios and wellness businesses may want to create their own programs and base them upon the resources provided by Yoga Alliance.

Here are some of the main points under SB 1343:

1. Employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training to temporary or seasonal employees within 30 calendar days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked if the employee will work for less than six months.

2. The anti-sexual harassment training may be conducted with other employees, as a group, or individually, and broken up into shorter time segments, as long as the two-hour requirement for supervisory employees and one-hour requirement for non-supervisory employees is reached.

3. Employers who provide the required trainings after January 1, 2019, are not required to comply with the January 1, 2020, deadline.

4. The DFEH must develop, obtain, and make available on its website the training courses for supervisory and non-supervisory employees.

5. The DFEH must make informational posters and fact sheets regarding sexual harassment prevention available to employers and to members of the public in English and other languages  on the department’s website.

6. Employers can use other resources as long as they comply with the new law.


General Resources for Employers (DFEH Site)

California Public Agency Labor and Employment Blog

General FAQ About the New Law

Workplace Harassment Prevention Guide for California Employers