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California tackles issues leading to the #MeToo movement

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2019 | Employment Law |

California was the birthplace of the #MeToo movement, which first began in the Hollywood spotlight. Since then, it has spread throughout North America and the rest of the world. Still, the Golden State has not forgotten the role it played in spurring the movement along, for both good and bad reasons.

CNBC notes that in 2018, California sought to tackle the issues that led to the movement. It did so by passing several new bills aimed at protecting workers from sex discrimination and sexual harassment. In fact, at least 11 states passed laws in 2018 to tackle these growing problems in the workplace. Several of those laws took effect this year.

Here are some of the bills passed by California:

  • Assembly Bill 2770: Protects people from defamation lawsuits when they make sexual harassment claims without malice and the claims are based on credible evidence. It also protects other employers who know of the issue and allows them to communicate that to other potential employers. This bill took effect on January 1, 2019.

Senate Bill 1300: Prohibits California employers from making it a mandatory condition of employment, bonus or raises that employees sign nondisparagement agreements that protect employers from claims, including sexual harassment. The employee may waive that right if they so choose. It took effect on January 1, 2019.

  • Senate Bill 820: Allows employees filing sexual discrimination and sexual abuse claims to withhold their names. It also outlaws NDAs that silence factual information related to sexual harassment, assault or discrimination cases. Secret settlements are also no longer allowed in these instances. It took effect on January 1, 2019.
  • Senate Bill 1343: Lowers the employee count that determines which companies should provide sexual harassment training from 50 employees or more to five or more. It takes effect on January 1, 2020.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also continues to tackle issues that led to the birth of the #MeToo movement. Forbes shares that the EEOC warns employers to reconsider how they conduct training related to the underlying issues, such as sexual harassment or discrimination based on sex. One way that sex discrimination manifests itself is as gender pay inequality. California is one of several states that have also put measures in place to create a more level playing field when it comes to compensation.