In the wake of the #MeToo movement, many state legislatures have begun to take action to provide greater protections for victims of sexual harassment and make it easier for them to make complaints in the workplace. For example, in California, AB 2770 amends Civil Code Section 47 to protect alleged victims of sexual harassment by a co-worker in making complaints to the employer without the fear of being found liable for defaming the alleged harasser. It similarly protects employers when making statements to interested parties (such as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and/or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) concerning the complaints of sexual harassment. In both instances, however, the statements and/or complaints are only protected from liability for defamation if they are made without malice and based upon credible evidence.
Sexual harassment is a recurring theme in the bills signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on September 30, 2018. These new laws, which take effect on January 1, 2019, continue the trend of expanding protections for California employees.
Hush-Money – Three of the bills signed by Governor Brown on September 30 target settlement agreements that prohibit disclosure of sexual harassment claims. AB 3109 makes void and unenforceable any provision in a contract or settlement agreement that waives a party’s right to testify in an administrative, legislative, or judicial proceeding concerning alleged criminal conduct or sexual harassment. SB 820 prohibits settlement agreements from including a provision that prevents the disclosure of factual information related to claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment. However, this bill does not prohibit confidentiality of the settlement amount. SB 1300 voids any agreement in which an employee forfeits his or her right to disclose unlawful acts in the workplace, including acts of sexual harassment.
Redefining The Hostile Work Environment Standard – SB 1300 also declares that a single incident of harassing conduct could be sufficient to create a triable issue regarding the existence of a hostile work environment in certain circumstances. Continue Reading California Enacts New Sexual Harassment Laws
Employers who operate in New York State and City are likely aware of the new sexual harassment laws that are starting to take effect. Many companies have already revised their sexual harassment policies to comply with the new laws, but now face the hurdle of complying with the sexual harassment training requirements under both the State and City laws.
While there is overlap between the State and City requirements, there are differences that employers should note. Continue Reading Deadlines Rapidly Approaching To Meet New York Sexual Harassment Training Requirements
Legislative responses to the #metoo movement continue to develop across the country. Joining this movement, New York State and New York City recently have passed some of the strongest anti-harassment laws on the books. Below is a summary of key elements for private employers: Continue Reading #metoo In New York: New Sexual Harassment Laws in New York State and New York City
On February 5, 2018, the American Bar Association (ABA) adopted Resolution 302, which “urges all employers, and specifically all employers in the legal profession, to adopt and enforce policies and procedures that prohibit, prevent, and promptly redress harassment and retaliation based on sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and the intersectionality of sex with race and/or ethnicity.”
Resolution 302 was unanimously passed by voice vote of the ABA’s House of Delegates, the 601-member governing body of the country’s largest legal association, after further edits by employment lawyer Mark Schickman to strengthen its language.
In the #MeToo era, Resolution 302 is a reminder to all employers of harassment policy best practices, and should be of particular interest to employers in the legal industry. Continue Reading ABA Resolution 302: What the American Bar Association’s Position on Harassment Means to Employers
Driven by the wave of publicity surrounding sexual harassment allegations against prominent artists, executives, news anchors, filmmakers and legislators, and the ensuing #MeToo movement, legislators in California and several other states recently have introduced bills designed to prevent such harassment. Below we summarize four bills introduced in the California Senate and Assembly in January 2018. Employer groups have not yet publicly mounted a challenge to any of these bills, and it is not possible to say which, if any, of these bills will move all the way through the legislative process and be signed into law by the Governor.
Date: Thursday, November 16, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM PST
Please join Hunton & Williams LLP for a complimentary webinar that will address current concerns faced by employers in California. This program, co-sponsored by Welch Consulting, will examine the following issues:
- Fair Pay issues
- Recent PAGA concerns
- “Ban the Box” and background checks
- Sick leave
- Changing local and regional ordinances
- Sexual harassment
We will also discuss ways to address potential risks proactively, including the use of statistical analyses to avoid future litigation.
We hope you can join us for what should be a very interesting and educational program.
Register by clicking here.
Questions? Contact Visalaya Hirunpidok at email@example.com or 213.532.2003.
Allegations of sexual harassment have been flooding the news headlines lately. Partners Emily Burkhardt Vicente and Amber Rogers discuss how these trends may impact employers and identify common sense strategies for minimizing the risk of harassment claims in the workplace. View the 5-minute video here.
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) not only prohibits discrimination, harassment and retaliation, but goes a step farther than similar state laws in its explicit requirement that employers take reasonable steps to prevent and correct such conduct. Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940(k). In 2016, the California Fair Employment and Housing Council promulgated regulations which set forth the required elements of a compliant prevention and correction program (2 CCR §§ 11023-11024), and in May 2017 the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) issued a Workplace Harassment Guide (the “Guide”) to clarify further employers’ obligations under these regulations. The Guide, which is notable for its detailed explanation of workplace investigation procedures, can be accessed here.
On August 29, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued Vasquez v. Empress Ambulance Service, Inc., — F.3d —, No. 15-3239-CV, 2016 WL 4501673 (2d Cir. Aug. 29, 2016), holding that an employer may be held liable for a low-level employee’s animus under the cat’s paw theory of liability if the employer’s own negligence allows that animus to result in adverse employment action against another employee.