#TakeTheLead Bills

About the Bills

There are 4 #TakeTheLead bills in California, sponsored and/or supported by Equal Rights Advocates. Each addresses different issues relating to sexual harassment at work. Together, these bills will prevent and reduce harassment, hold serial harassers accountable, and make it easier for survivors to get the justice and healing they deserve.

** UPDATE: CA Gov. Jerry Brown signed 2 of the #TakeTheLead bills (SB 1300 and SB 224), but vetoed the other 2 (AB 1870 and AB 3080). **

1.  SB 1300: Sexual Harassment Prevention & Accountability (Jackson)
Signed into law by Gov. Brown Sept. 30, 2018.

The ProblemWorkplace sexual harassment is perpetuated by gaps in existing laws, and tactics used by some employers to evade responsibility and sweep sexual harassment under the rug.

How it Helps: This bill combats workplace sexual harassment on multiple fronts:

  • Ends the “one free grope” legal standard for sexual harassment by providing guidance to courts on the “severe or pervasive” legal standard for harassment claims, to ensure it is applied fairly and consistently. (Some courts still follow a 2000 Ninth Circuit ruling in a case where a co-worker grabbed a 911 operator’s breast at work, while she was on the phone with an emergency caller, but the court held that was not “severe” enough to constitute sexual harassment.)
  • Addresses loopholes employers use to silence victims, by banning employers from forcing workers to sign legal agreements that strip workers of their rights to file a claim for harassment or discrimination or to speak out about sexual harassment. These agreements are often included in contracts that workers unknowingly sign when accepting a job offer, or receiving a promotion, raise, or bonus. The “agreement” then forces the victim to be silent later on, or keeps them from being able to take their claim to court.

Why It’s Important: If we want to create harassment-free workplaces, employers and courts need strong and clear guidelines.

2.  SB 224: Stopping Sexual Predator in Positions of Power (Jackson)
Signed into law by Gov. Brown Sept. 30, 2018.

The Problem: Sexual harassment is rampant not just in traditional employment relationships, but also in other types of business, service, and professional relationships.

How it Helps: This bill makes it clear that sexual harassment by film directors, producers, elected officials, lobbyists, and investors is against the law. As non-traditional employment flourishes in California’s creative industries of tech and entertainment, this bill will protect workers of all genders from sexual misconduct.

Why It’s Important: No one should be denied legal protection just because the sexual harassment took place outside of a typical office environment or traditional employer-employee relationship.

3.  AB 1870: Extending the Deadline to File Claims (Reyes, Friedman, Waldron)
Vetoed by Gov. Brown Sept. 30, 2018.

The Problem: People who experience sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination at work have only one year to file a claim with the state. Victims of workplace harassment often fail to come forward within one year because they are unaware of their rights or that the treatment they endured was illegal. This is especially true in low-wage industries that have higher rates of harassment. This deadline is unfair, and shorter than that of other types of civil claims in California.

How it Helps: Simple. Treat sexual harassment and discrimination claims like other claims. This bill extends the deadline from 1 year to 3 years.

Why It’s Important: A fairer deadline gives workers the time they need to recover from the trauma of the incident, learn about their rights, and then seek justice.

4.  AB 3080: Banning Forced Waivers of Workers’ Rights (Gonzalez Fletcher)
Vetoed by Gov. Brown Sept. 30, 2018.

The Problem: Today, many employers force workers to sign away their rights to take claims for sexual harassment (and other workplace rights violations) to court or state enforcement agencies, and instead require them to go to a private arbitration. This lets companies keep harassment, discrimination, and other claims out of the public eye, effectively cloaking them in secrecy and in some cases, allowing serial harassers to repeat their conduct for years.

How it Helps: The bill ensures that no worker can be required, as a condition of employment, to waive his or her right to take claims for workplace rights violations to court or a state agency. It also prohibits threatening, retaliating, discriminating against, or firing workers because they refuse to consent to such waiver.

Why It’s Important: Forcing workers to waive their basic rights in order to get a job is fundamentally unfair. Workers deserve to have a choice about where to bring claims for violations of their rights, and not be forced into secretive proceedings without the procedural safeguards that exist in court.