Sacramento Broadens the Focus on Preventing Sexual Harrassment

Today, California Sen. Holly J. Mitchell and state Controller Betty T. Yee announced legislation to help address the prevalence of workplace sexual harassment.

Senate Bill 1343 would provide training to more California workers on preventing sexual harassment, as well as how to recognize harassment and who to contact if victimized.

“In order for this culture shift around sexual harassment prevention to be successful, workers need to feel confident in their workplace policies and procedures,” said Mitchell, author of SB 1343 and vice chair of the Joint Committee on Rules Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response.

Yee agreed.

“Expanding required training means expanding awareness across all economic sectors, not just in Hollywood or in the State Capitol. If we want to shift the culture when it comes to sexual harassment, we need to start by ensuring all workers know their rights and know their resources,” said Yee, the highest-ranking female elected official in state government and sponsor of SB 1343.

Current law requires all employers with 50 or more employees to provide two hours of sexual harassment prevention training only to supervisors. SB 1343 would extend this requirement to employers with five or more employees, and ensure similar training in multiple languages for all workers so they know what sexual harassment is and what their rights are under the law. Employers could comply with SB 1343 by directing employees to view California Department of Fair Employment and Housing training videos, which the bill requires DFEH to produce in multiple languages, to raise employee awareness on harassment and discrimination in diverse work force sectors.

From 2005 to 2015, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received about 85,000 sexual harassment complaints. Of the charges that specified jobs, 14.2 percent came from the accommodation and food service industry, 13.4 percent came from retail trade, and 11.7 percent came from manufacturing.

Ray Sotero

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