New Law Adds Workplace Bullying Training Requirement for Supervisors

September 2014

Assembly Bill 2053 (“AB 2053”), signed by Governor Brown on September 9, 2014, directs that all political and civil subdivisions of the state—including public school districts—provide training on “prevention of abusive conduct” in the workplace as a component of their mandated training for supervisors on sexual harassment.  AB 2053 adds this new obligation to the existing requirement in Government Code section 12950.1 for districts to provide at least two hours of training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees once every two years.  The new workplace bullying training requirement, which becomes effective on January 1, 2015, also applies to cities and to employers with more than 50 employees.

AB 2053 defines “abusive conduct” as “conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.”  Abusive conduct can include “repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance.”  The law states that a single act does not constitute abusive conduct, unless it is “especially severe and egregious.”

Apart from adding the “abusive conduct” component, AB 2053 did not change the current supervisory training and education required by Government Code section 12950.1.  Such training must include information and practical guidance regarding federal and state statutory provisions “concerning the prohibition against and the prevention and correction of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in employment.”  The training and education also must contain “practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and shall be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.”

Although most districts have Board Policies and/or Administrative Regulations in place that address abusive conduct—or workplace bullying—by employees, the new law adds a mandatory training element that districts must incorporate into their existing sexual harassment training materials. 

While AB 2053 does not make abusive conduct in the workplace illegal, many perceive it as a first step in that direction by the legislature. 

Additionally, please note that we have incorporated these new legally mandated training components into F3’s sexual harassment prevention training materials.

If you have any questions regarding AB 2053’s workplace bullying prevention training requirements, please call one of our six offices.

F3 NewsFlash prepared by Gretchen M. Shipley and John W. Norlin.
Gretchen is a partner in the F3 San Diego office.
John is Special Counsel in the F3 San Diego office.

This F3 NewsFlash is a summary only and not legal advice.  We recommend that you consult with legal counsel to determine how this legal development may apply to your specific facts and circumstances.  Information on a free NewsFlash subscription can be found at


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