California businesses that have 50 or more employees are already required to train supervisors on legally prohibited sexual harassment. Following California Governor Jerry Brown’s recent signing of A.B. 2053, that training must now also include education on preventing “abusive conduct” in the workplace, even if the conduct is not based on a protected characteristic nor constitutes legally prohibited discrimination or harassment.

As amended by A.B. 2053, Section 12950.1 of the Government Code defines abusive conduct as malicious conduct “that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.” Although A.B. 2053 provides that a single act is not abusive “unless especially severe and egregious,” its list of conduct that may be abusive is expansive:

  • infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks
  • insults
  • epithets
  • verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating
  • gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance

Supervisory employees must receive at least two hours of this enhanced anti-harassment training in an interactive format every two years.