The #MeToo movement gained national attention in October 2017 when multiple allegations of sexual harassment against movie producer Harvey Weinstein came to light. Since these first revelations, the effects of the #MeToo movement have reverberated in workplaces throughout the U.S., resulting in states like California taking steps to enact new laws and protections aimed to curb sexual harassment in the workplace.
The following senate and assembly bills became state law on Jan. 1, 2019.
New Workplace Sexual Harassment And Discrimination Laws
The following new laws aim to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace:
- Senate Bill 1343 requires employers with five or more employees to provide sexual harassment training by Jan. 1, 2020. This law updates a 2005 law that required such training only for supervisors and only at companies with 50 or more employees.
- Senate Bill 1300 prohibits employers from requiring employees to, as a condition of employment or advancement, sign a release waiving any claim against the employer (or sign a nondisparagement agreement to keep employees from disclosing information) regarding illegal acts in the workplace, including claims or injuries related to sexual harassment.
- Senate Bill 820 prohibits employers from including clauses in sexual misconduct settlement agreements that bar an employee from disclosing related facts.
- Assembly Bill 2770 protects employees who suffer harassment and discrimination against defamation lawsuits, provided claims are made based on credible evidence and without malice. Additionally, companies with knowledge of an employee's harassing activities can now take steps to warn other potential employers without the threat of a defamation lawsuit.
Employment laws, including those related to sexual harassment and discrimination, can be confusing. It is important for both employers and employees to understand the related requirements and protections. If you have questions or concerns about your rights under these laws, you should contact an employment attorney.