In October of this year, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed new sexual harassment bills into law. These bills aim to strengthen workplace protections for victims of sexual harassment. But do you know how these bills will change workplaces all over California?
How New Sexual Harassment Bills Are Making Work Safer for Everyone
For starters, Assembly Bill 9 will extend the deadline for filing a sexual assault complaint. The previous deadline was one year from the incident but now extends to three years.
Another major bill will end forced arbitration for sexual harassment cases. Many companies currently require their employees to undergo forced arbitration to settle disputes. For sexual harassment disputes, forced arbitration makes it difficult to sue. It also keeps the dispute confidential, meaning that others will not find out about what happened and who is involved. Ending forced arbitration may help bring sexual harassment perpetrators to justice.
In August, Governor Newsom signed another bill that concerned sexual harassment training requirements. Senate Bill 778 served to clarify a previous law that had resulted in some confusion.
This previous bill, Senate Bill 1343, required that employers with five or more employees follow certain guidelines. Under this law, all supervisors must undergo 2 hours of sexual harassment training. Employees, including seasonal and temporary hires, must complete 1 hour of training. Under SB 1343, employees who completed their training during 2019 need not undergo the training again in 2020.
The Problem With New Sexual Harassment Training Requirements
Confusion arose for employers who were already administering sexual harassment training in 2018. Under this law, these employees would have to participate in the training again within a 2-year period.
Senate Bill 778 served to clarify this issue by extending sexual harassment training requirements. Now, employers are to train their employees only once by 2021. After that, employees are to undergo the training again once every two years.
The bill also makes other sexual harassment training provisions:
- Employees can participate in sexual harassment training either individually or in groups. It is also possible to break the training up into segments, so long as employees meet the time requirements.
- Training must include educating employees about practical steps to take when sexual harassment occurs. This means educating employees about state and federal laws. It also means educating employees about preventative and corrective actions they can take.
- Professionals should administer this training and should use practical examples to educate.
- Employees should be able to save and print certificates of completion.
- Training must focus on more than just sexual harassment. It must include topics such as harassment based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.
Questions About Sexual Harassment in the Workplace? Contact Our California Labor Lawyer
Hopefully, these new laws will translate into better working conditions for all of those involved. In the event that they do not, our California labor lawyer can fight for you.
The law protects employees from a hostile work environment. If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, this law applies to you. If you are struggling with how to proceed, contact our California labor lawyer to discuss what your options are moving forward. We offer free consultations which you can schedule through our online contact form.