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Governor Newsom Signs Worker Protection Bills Addressing Sexual Harassment, Wages and Health Protections

EverythingHR Staff | 10/15/2019 | Blog

From the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, Originally Published October 10, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today signed 15 bills aimed at increasing protections for California’s workforce, including landmark legislation drafted in response to the #MeToo movement focused on sexual harassment prevention and accountability, and creating a safe workplace for all Californians, especially women who experience sexual harassment at disproportionate rates.

“Work is about more than earning an income,” said Governor Newsom. “For many, a job can provide a sense of purpose and belonging – the satisfaction of knowing your labor provides value to the world. Everyone should have the ability to feel that pride in what they do, but for too many workers, they aren’t provided the dignity, respect or safety they deserve. These laws will help change that.”’

Among the bills signed today are AB 9, known as the Stop Harassment and Reporting Extension (SHARE) Act, by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-Grand Terrace), which extends the deadline to file an allegation of unlawful workplace harassment, discrimination, or civil rights-related retaliation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) from one year to three years. AB 9 will impose a statute of limitations period that is six-times the length of the federal standard and three-times the length of the current state standard. Workplace harassment includes discrimination, retaliation based on protected characteristics such as sex and gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, age, religion, disability and more.

Also signed is AB 51 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), which prohibits employers from requiring employees or applicants for employment to waive a right, forum, or procedure for a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act or the Labor Code as a condition of employment or employment-related benefit. This bill would also prohibit employers from threatening, retaliating or discriminating against, or terminating employees or applicants because they refused to waive any such right, forum, or procedure.

AB 547 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) requires the director of the Department of Industrial Relations to convene an advisory committee to refine the recommendations on in-person sexual violence and harassment prevention training requirements for janitorial employers and employees.

And SB 530 by Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) instructs the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to develop an industry-specific harassment and discrimination prevention policy for the construction industry, and allows employers of multiemployer collective bargaining agreements to satisfy anti-harassment training by verifying they have received requisite training.

“Millions of women around the world have risen up to say me too, and demand an end to sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. Today, I am proud that California has listened to the voices of survivors and advocates, and continues to lead the country toward a more equal future where both our daughters and sons can thrive,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

Governor Newsom has taken other actions this year in relation to worker protections. The Governor signed AB 5 (Gonzalez) in September, which will help reduce worker misclassification. He also signed AB 378 (Limόn) to allow an estimated 40,000 childcare workers in the state to join a union and collectively bargain with the state. Additionally, he signed several bills to support firefighters and first responders in their job environments.

In total, the Governor today signed the following worker protection bills:

  • AB 9 by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-Grand Terrace) – Employment discrimination: limitation of actions.
  • AB 35 by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) – Worker safety: blood lead levels: reporting.
  • AB 51 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) – Employment discrimination: enforcement.
  • AB 203 by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) – Occupational safety and health: Valley Fever.
  • AB 355 by Assemblymember Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) – Public Employment Relations Board: Orange County Transportation Authority.
  • AB 538 by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) – Sexual assault: medical evidentiary examinations and reporting.
  • AB 547 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) – Janitorial workers: sexual violence and harassment prevention training.
  • AB 673 by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) – Failure to pay wages: penalties.
  • AB 1400 by Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles) – Employment safety: firefighting equipment: mechanics.
  • AB 1748 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) – California Family Rights Act: flight crews.
  • AB 1768 by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) – Prevailing wage: public works.
  • SB 142 by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) – Employees: lactation accommodation.
  • SB 229 by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) – Discrimination: complaints: administrative review.
  • SB 530 by Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) – Construction industry: discrimination and harassment prevention.
  • SB 688 by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) – Failure to pay wages: penalties.