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California legislation addresses sexual harassment in new bills

The #MeToo movement may have slowed, but it is not gone.

The movement lives on in new forms of sexual harassment prevention legislation on the state and federal level. In California alone, several new bills hope to address the policies and practices of employers to help create a safer work environment for men and women.

Several of the bills hone in on investigate harassment claims and how long those claims can stay on record. Even if a portion of these bills pass into law, employers can expect significant change in business practices in California.

Sexual harassment prevention training for all employees

SB-1343 wants sexual harassment prevention training to be mandatory for all employees. This differs from the current law where only businesses with more than 50 employees have to present a 2-hour sexual harassment prevention training.

The new bill requires the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to develop a training video used by employers, unless the owner develops their own 2-hour training programs that fit the requirements of the bill. SB-1343 already passed the Senate with a 38-0 vote and will eventually face review by the Assembly.

Sexual harassment complaints must be maintained for 10 years

SB-1867 requires employers with 50 or more employees to retain records of sexual harassment complaints for 10 years and allows the DFEH to seek an order requiring the employer to comply. It is unclear if the bill will include penalties for violations or any consequences for employers who do not record the claims.

Sexual harassment victims could seek time off after claims

Current labor laws in California do not allow employers cannot retaliate against victims of sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence if they request time off from work. AB-2366 would seek the same protections for victims of sexual harassment and immediate family members of the victim who take time off from work to assist the victim in counseling.

Other bills addressing sexual harassment include:

  • SB 1038 – individuals could be held personally liable for retaliating against an employee who has filed a harassment complaint.
  • SB 820 – bars confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements in cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment or sexual discrimination.
  • SB 224 – investors, elected officials, lobbyists, directors and producers could be held liable for sexual harassment under state law

The proposed bills show politicians are on the right track to addressing sexual harassment, but it will take time and effort to make everyone feel comfortable in their workplace.

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