September 7, 2018, #SB1300 (Senate Bill 1300) was amended by the CA Assembly and enrolled in California by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). It was one of six bills inspired by the #metoo movement.
Update: September 30, 2018, SB-1300 was signed into law by Governor Brown and will take effect on January 1, 2019.
SB-1300: In a Nutshell
Employer’s may be held responsible for acts of non-employees. Think about waitresses that get groped by customers and healthcare workers that are harassed by patients. This bill says that employers have a responsibility to protect their staff from harassment that they suffer in the course of doing their work.
An employer can be held accountable if their employee is harassed at work—even if the harasser is not an employee.
FEHA extends the sphere of employer responsibility by making it unlawful for employers to engage in harassment of an employee or other supervised people. This area of responsibility refers to complex working arrangements where a person may work as a contractor (and therefore not an employee directly) and states that even those who are not technically employees are still legally protected from sexual harassment by a supervisor. An example could be an outside consultant that was brought in to work on a short-term project being harassed (suffering unwanted sexual advances, etc.) by the team leader.
Additionally, FEHA makes harassment of those persons by an employee, other than an agent or supervisor, unlawful if the entity, or its agents or supervisors, knew or should have known of this conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. This statement clarifies that an employer may be held accountable for the actions of an employee in a lateral position that sexually harasses another who is not technically an employee. An example here could be a similar outside consultant that is harassed by a coworker in a lateral position. However, the accuser would have to be able to show that the employer or supervisor knew or should have known about the sexual harassment.
Under FEHA, an employer may be found responsible for acts of nonemployees, with respect to sexual harassment of employees, if the employer knew or should have known of the conduct and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. Additionally, the bill would specify that an employer may be responsible for the acts of nonemployees with respect to other harassment activity.
Sexual Harassment Training
The bill requires employers of 5 or more employees to provide 2 hours of sexual harassment training to all employees, not just supervisors, and within 6 months of being hired. The training would then be conducted every 2 years thereafter.
A Release of Claims and Non-Disclosure Agreement
One of the most important provisions of the bill is that employers are prohibited from using a release of claims or nondisclosure agreements in exchange for any bonuses, pay raises or conditions or continued employment. With certain exceptions, the bill would prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to execute any document that would deny an employee the right to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including but not limited to, sexual harassment. Any agreement or documentation would be in violation of those prohibitions is contrary to public policy and unenforceable.