Beginning January 1, 2019, the California legislature adopted several laws in the workplace with regards to sexual harassment claims against employers. These laws will impact any employee claims that have not reached resolution, even though the cause of action, claim or lawsuit may have arisen prior to the implementation of the new laws. Staying up to date with the newest laws and implementing this knowledge correctly can save employers hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours in court. The most significant changes in the laws regarding sexual harassment are as follows:
1. SB 820 prohibits employer in a settlement agreement where sexual harassment, assault or discrimination has been alleged including a confidentiality clause prohibiting disclosure of the facts regarding the claim, except the victim’s identity.
2. SB 1300 makes non-disparagement agreements preventing employees from disclosing the unlawful acts in the workplace, including sexual harassment, against public policy.
3. SB 1300 also makes not enforceable, agreements not to sue or bring a claim against the employer under FEHA, in exchange for a raise or bonus, or as a condition of (continued) employment.
4. SB 1343 states that all employers with 5 or more employees are required to provide 2 hours of sexual harassment training to its supervisor, and 1 hour to other employees within 6 months of hiring and every 2 years thereafter. The initial training needs to conclude before January 1, 2020.
5. AB 2770 protects victim from claims of defamation by alleged harasser when employee reports sexual harassment based on credible evidence and without malice. Even if the claim is found to be false and the accused’s reputation is ruined.
6. AB 2770 also permits an employer to reveal to prospective employers on a job reference, the reason for employee’s inability to be rehired – if the employer determined that employee had engaged in sexual harassment.
Staying up to date on current employment laws is the easiest way to protect an employer. Often times employer thinks that just knowing the law is protection enough. My law office provides legal services in the best implementation of these laws, and dissolving confusion around the laws from the employers perspective. A consultation with an employment attorney can often save the employer time and peace of mind in regards to avoiding unnecessary litigation or tumultuous relationships with their employees.
I have represented a multitude of businesses in resolving claims against employers through pre-litigation, California and federal agencies, including the Labor Commissioner, EEOC and several others.
Litigation is sometimes the first notice of an allegation an employer receives, in which case a lawyer is even more pertinent and can be indispensable to that process. Every claim I have worked on has resulted in a satisfactory resolution for the employer, even in cases where initially there were stark differences in opinion. Settlements, although not always unavoidable, can be an option in which we can still reach a solution that satisfies the employer as well as discouraging future litigation from employees.
If your business is seeking information, guidance or protection for existing or possible sexual harassment claims in Fremont, Hayward, Union City, Castro Valley, Milpitas, or Newark, CA, please contact the Law Office of Lynnette Ariathurai.