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CA establishes new employment laws in light of #MeToo

Following the #MeToo movement, California recently enacted five new pieces of legislation that will take effect in 2019. The Governor of California, Jerry Brown, hopes that the new laws will reduce sexual harassment and promote gender equality in workplaces across the state.

The #MeToo movement raised awareness of the issues females face in the workplace and beyond. Data suggests over 80 percent of women have been victims of sexual harassment or assault at some point in their lives. Tragically, many sexual assaults occur at work.

California legislators believe the new employment laws will help to protect female employees across the state. Five of the new laws in California include:

  1. Eliminating non-disclosure concerning sexual harassment: This bill will “prohibit a provision in a settlement agreement that prevents the disclosure of factual information relating to certain claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, or harassment or discrimination based on sex, that are filed in a civil or administrative action.” (SB-820)
  2. Putting more women on boards: No later than 2019, this bill will require “a minimum of one female, as defined, on its board of directors, as specified.” Additionally, this bill will “increase that required minimum number to 2 female directors if the corporation has 5 directors or to 3 female directors if the corporation has 6 or more directors” by 2012. (SB-826)
  3. Making employers accountable for employees: Under FEHA, employers are responsible for sexual harassment at their company if they engage in the actions of sexual misconduct or know another employee engaged in sexual misconduct and fail to take remedial action. This bill will “specify that an employer may be responsible for the acts of nonemployees with respect to other harassment activity,” as well as other similar provisions. (SB-1300)
  4. Requiring additional sexual harassment training: The act “requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide at least 2 hours of prescribed training and education regarding sexual harassment, abusive conduct, and harassment based upon gender, as specified, to all supervisory employees within 6 months of their assumption of a supervisory position and once every 2 years, as specified.” (SB-1343)
  5. Protecting in-home caretakers: Because many caretakers are female and often work in the privacy of someone’s home, they can be vulnerable to harassment. This bill will require the California Department of Social Services “to develop, or otherwise identify, standard educational material about sexual harassment and the prevention thereof to be made available to IHSS providers and recipients and a proposed method for uniform data collection to identify the prevalence of sexual harassment in the IHSS program.” (AB-3082)

Experiencing gender discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace can be devastating. Consult with an experienced employment law attorney to discuss your next steps and fight for the justice you deserve.

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