State officials have approved final regulations for the landmark sexual harassment training law and the biggest clarification: the law now applies to larger firms that hire contract workers.


The final regulations were crafted by the Fair Employment and Housing Commission to clarify ambiguities in AB 1825, the sexual harassment training law passed nearly three years ago. The state Office of Administrative Law signed off on the regulations on July 18; they go into effect on Aug. 17.


AB 1825 was the Legislature's response to a steady rise in sexual harassment claims and lawsuits over the previous decade; it requires all firms with at least 50 employees to provide anti-sexual harassment training for supervisors.


But left unclear in the law was whether the term "employees" includes contract workers (who file 1099 Forms) or workers located out of state, whether out-of-state supervisors also had to be trained and just what qualifications were required to be a trainer.


A subsequent law clarified the supervisor issue, saying that only supervisors based in the state needed to be trained. And earlier this year, the Fair Employment and Housing Commission addressed the other issues. Besides including contract workers in the definition of employees, the agency said that the 50-employee total also must include out-of-state workers, though out-of-state workers do not need to be trained.


The agency also elaborated on the qualifications for trainers. Among those that can provide sexual harassment training are attorneys whose practice includes employment law. Also eligible: human resource professionals or "harassment prevention consultants" who have had experience providing sexual harassment training or responding to or investigating sexual harassment complaints.


Under AB 1825, each supervisor must receive two hours of training every two years, with new supervisors receiving their first training within six months of taking the post.


For more information, including the required content of the training sessions, log on to the Fair Employment and Housing Commission's web site at fehc.ca.gov.


Rubbed the Wrong Way

Permit fees for tanning salons, massage parlors, massage therapists and cyber caf & #233;s in the city of Los Angeles are about to go up way up.


Assuming the Los Angeles City Council signs off next month on the fee increases recommended by the Los Angeles Police Commission, massage parlor operators and massage therapists will see their annual permit fees double, to a maximum of $717. Bath/tanning permits will more than triple to $515. And cyber cafes, until now exempt from any permit fees, will now face an annual permit fee of $171.


While permit fees typically go up by more modest amounts to offset the cost of hiring additional inspectors, the reason behind the huge increases for the massage parlors and therapists is different. Last year, the City Council ordered the Police Commission to raise the fees to recoup the costs of contracting with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for annual health inspections of these salons and parlors and for administering exams for massage therapists. The city is billed $252 per inspection and $161 per exam; previously, the city had covered the bulk of these costs. With the increases being considered, the city will raise about $375,000 to offset these costs.


As for the cyber caf & #233; fee, Police Commission Executive Director Richard Tefank said the city is simply catching up with the times, treating these caf & #233;s like video arcade rooms. Tefank's report did not include an estimate of how much revenue this fee would raise.


The scope of this round of permit fee increases has caught many off guard.


"I'm going to get hit twice, since I have both a massage business permit and a massage therapist permit," said Brian Markowitz, a massage therapist and owner of Human Touch Massage in Venice.


Hearing on Rest Periods

Employers have long chafed at a state regulation requiring they give meal and rest breaks to their employees after a certain number of hours worked each day. Employers complain that the one-size-fits-all regulation doesn't work in some industries and that more flexibility is needed.


"We've got trucking companies whose hands are tied because truckers don't want to take the mandated breaks because they want to get to their destination earlier," said Gino DiCaro, spokesman for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. Labor groups are resisting any changes. "All workers deserve time to eat and rest without intimidation or fear of reprisal," said Art Pulaski of the state Labor Federation.


Employers will get their chance to vent their concerns at a hearing at California State University, Northridge on Aug. 9.


For more information on the hearing and on the written comment period (which closes Aug. 31), log on to the division's web site at dir.ca.gov/DLSE.


Staff reporter Howard Fine can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227 or at hfine@labusinessjournal.com .

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.