The #MeToo movement has been raising awareness in California and across the country to the prevalence of sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace. Women continue to come forward with experiences of harassment and discrimination at work, from quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment of a single employee to pervasive sexual discrimination against women employees generally.
There are currently both federal and state laws that prohibit sexual harassment and sexual discrimination in the workplace, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is a federal law, as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
However, California lawmakers want to provide additional protections to ensure that employees are able to come forward with sexual harassment and sex discrimination claims. We want to tell you more about some of the proposed legislation in California concerning sexual harassment and sex discrimination claims in the state.
The Stopping Harassment and Reporting Extension (SHARE) Act
The Stopping Harassment and Reporting Extension (SHARE) Act, or AB 1870, is designed to extend an employee’s time window for filing a sexual harassment or discrimination claim under the FEHA. Currently, a person only has one year to file a claim, but the proposed legislation would extend that time window to three years.
The reasoning behind the bill is that low wage earners in particular often may not know their rights when it comes to filing a harassment or discrimination claim, and many of those workers miss the one-year window in which to file a claim. By extending the time to file under the FEHA, workers would have more time to seek a remedy.
The Stand Together Against Non-Disclosures (STAND) Act
The Stand Together Against Non-Disclosures (STAND) Act, or SB 820, concerns settlement agreements. In short, the law would prevent confidentiality agreements that prevent women from discussing their concerns about sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace. These agreements, which require employees to keep silent regarding their experiences, may contribute to the problem of harassers being able to on with their misconduct for years.
According to Senator Leyva, who introduced the STAND Act, the proposed legislation arose in part to claims against the film producer Harvey Weinstein and the secret settlements that silenced women who have recently come forward with claims. As Leyva explained, “secret settlements serve one primary purpose: to keep sexual predators away from the public eye and continuing to torment and hurt innocent victims.” Those in favor of the bill emphasize that, without this legislation, cycles of sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination may be allowed to continue in California workplaces.
Other Relevant Legislation Concerning Sexual Harassment and Discrimination at Work
Additional proposed legislation concerning sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace includes AB 1876, which would require certain businesses to maintain records of employee complaints of sexual harassment for at least 10 years from the date the complaint was filed, as well as AB 3080, which is designed to prevent employees from signing waivers regarding sexual harassment or discrimination claims.
Contact a California Employment Discrimination Attorney
If you have questions about sexual harassment in the workplace, a California employment discrimination lawyer can assist you. Contact Minnis & Smallets LLP today.