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Anti-harassment regulations delayed


SAN FRANCISCO—Employers in California, who have long waited for regulations clarifying legislation that requires them to provide sexual harassment prevention training, apparently are going to have to wait a bit longer.

The legislation, which became law in 2004, called for businesses with 50 or more employees to provide two hours of training and education on preventing sexual harassment to all supervisors by January 2006. However, there were ambiguities concerning implementation of the law.

Following a long review process, the San Francisco-based Fair Employment and Housing Commission issued its final proposed regulations in November.

They were sent to California's Office of Administrative Law in anticipation of receiving the required approval, after which they were to be submitted to the Secretary of State, the final step.

But the OAL returned the proposal to the FEHC earlier this month, saying further clarification of trainers' qualifications is needed.

As result, the FEHC will hold a Feb. 27 public hearing by telephone on additional revisions to the proposal, said Ann Noel, FEHC executive and legal affairs secretary.

The modified regulations then will have a 15-day public comment period, after which the commission will meet March 27 to consider any further changes. Then the plan would return to the OAL for final approval.

"They didn't think we were specific enough in two of our definitions," Ms. Noel said. "We're going to be more clear."

She said the commission could have made the changes without the public hearing, "but we decided the public has been our partner all along, and we're going to invite them into this process."

Shanti Atkins, president and chief executive officer of San Francisco-based ELT Inc., which provides employment law training programs, said the changes requested by the OAL were not substantive and focused on trainers' educational and practical experience.

"I really don't think it changes much of anything, practically, for employers" beyond that they will have to be more aware of their trainers' qualifications, Ms. Atkins said.