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New California Harassment Laws

New California Harassment Laws

New laws go into effect at the beginning of every year, and 2019 marked the start of a number of sexual harassment measures that go into effect in California. In general, the measures provide extended protections for employees and expand some key definitions of harassment in the workplace. A California harassment attorney can provide more specific details and answers to key questions.

Many of the new laws are a response to the #MeToo movement, sparked by numerous allegations against some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. The San Francisco Chronicle article provides an overview, but a closer look will help employees understand the benefits.

More Expansive Harassment Provisions

Under the previous version of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers could be liable for the acts of non-employees who engage in sexual harassment against employees. The new bill expands this requirement to make an employer liable for non-employee conduct with respect to any type of harassment.

Another provision prohibits employers from requiring an employee to sign certain agreements as a condition of hiring, retaining a current position, getting a raise, or receiving a bonus. The contracts which are unlawful under the new law include:

  • An agreement not to sue under FEHA which bars harassment and discrimination in the workplace on account of race, gender, age, disability, and other protected characteristics; and,
  • Non-disparagement agreements that require an employee to stay quiet about sexual harassment.

Female Executives

One new law has less to do with acts of harassment, instead focusing on the corporate structure of California companies. By the end of 2019, certain entities must have at least one female member appointed to its board of directors. The provision applies to:

  • Any domestic corporation organized under California law; and,
  • Any publicly traded foreign corporation with a principal place of business in the state.

In addition, these same organizations must comply with an additional requirement by the end of 2021. There must be at least two females on boards of directors with five members, and a minimum of three women for boards that have members numbering six or more.

Sexual Harassment Training

Another new bill aims at the prevention of sexual harassment by increasing the requirements for training. Under previous FEHA provisions, California employers with 50 or more workers must provide two hours of sexual harassment training, every two years, for supervisors. After the passage of the new laws, companies with five or more employees must provide sexual harassment training as follows:

  • Supervisors must undergo two hours of training within six months of hiring and every two years after;
  • All other employees must receive one hour within hiring and every two years thereafter;
  • Temporary employees need training within 30 days or 100 hours; and,
  • Agricultural workers must be trained starting in 2020.

California Employment Law Attorney to Discuss New Sexual Harassment Laws

For more information on employee rights under these new statutes, please contact Minnis & Smallets LLP to speak to a California harassment attorney. We can set up a consultation to explain the remedies for sexual harassment in the workplace.

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