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.

Continue Reading California’s AB 2770 Protects Employers and Victims of Sexual Harassment from Defamation Claims

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

The #MeToo movement has galvanized many into taking action to fight workplace harassment. Since the movement began in the fall of last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—tasked with enforcing laws prohibiting sexual harassment—has indicated it has seen an uptick in the amount of traffic to its website. But, it also indicated this increase in website visitors has not translated into an increase in formal complaints to the EEOC filed by employees against their employers. Still, the EEOC has carried the torch of the #MeToo movement, signaling that the lack of an increase in claims will not stop the agency from vigorously enforcing anti-harassment laws.

Continue Reading EEOC Seeks to Capitalize on #MeToo Movement to Combat Harassment

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.

Continue Reading Sexual Harassment Update California – Proposed Legislation