In the wake of the MeToo movement, a string of new bills was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown aimed at addressing sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace. Below is a list of some of the key “Me Too” inspired legislation that will take effect in California on January 1, 2019.
SB 1343 – Sexual Harassment Training: Currently only employers with 50 or more employees are mandated to provide sexual harassment training. However, that is all about to change dramatically on January 1, 2019. Under SB 1343, employers with 5 or more employees will be mandated to provide 2 hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees and 1 hour of training to all non-supervisory employees by January 1, 2020, and once every 2 years thereafter.
AB 3109 - Disclosure of Sexual Harassment: This bill makes void and unenforceable any settlement agreement terms that prevent a party to the settlement agreement from testifying about criminal conduct or sexual harassment in an administrative, legislative, or judicial proceeding.
SB 224 - Sexual Harassment: This bill amends section 51.9 of the Civil Code to expand the types of relationships that can be subject to a claim for sexual harassment to include lobbyists, elected officials, directors, producers, and investors.
SB 820 - Settlement of Sexual Harassment Claims: This new law prohibits provisions in settlement agreements entered into after January 1, 2019 that prevent disclosure of information related to civil or administrative complaints of sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender discrimination or related retaliation. The new law does not prohibit settlement agreement terms that prevent the parties from disclosing the amount of the settlement. Also, the settlement agreement may include a provision that limits the disclosure of the claimant’s identity or of facts that would lead to the discovery of the claimant’s identity, so long as it is at the claimant’s request and the opposing party is not a government agency or public official.
SB 1300 - FEHA Amendment: This bill amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) making it unlawful for an employer, in exchange for a raise or bonus or as a condition of employment or continued employment, to require an employee to release a FEHA claim or require an employee to sign a non-disparagement agreement denying the employee the right to disclose unlawful acts in the workplace. In addition, this bill also makes employers liable for all forms of unlawful harassment by non-employees (not just for sexual harassment per existing law) where the employer knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take appropriate corrective action.
AB 1619 - Sexual Assault; Statute of Limitations: This new law expands the statute of limitations for filing a civil action for sexual assault to 10 years after the alleged assault or 3 years after the plaintiff discovered or reasonably should have discovered injury as a result of the assault, whichever is later.
SB 826 Gender Composition of Boards of Directors: By the end of 2019, publicly held domestic or foreign corporations with principal executive offices in California must have a minimum of one female director on its board, and the number of female directors must increase again in 2021 depending on the size of the board.
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