Closes existing loophole for local elected officials
(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Today, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1661, a bill jointly authored by Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) which requires local elected officials to take a mandatory sexual harassment prevention training and education course within the first six months of taking office or commencing employment, and every two years thereafter.
“Claims for sexual harassment, can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, potentially diverting public dollars to settle these claims,” said Assemblymember McCarty. “I thank the Governor for creating uniformity among all cities in California and to establish clear rules as to what is appropriate conduct in the work place.”
“Elected officials have a higher bar as supervisors to understand the laws that protect their employees and to ensure their workplaces are free from sexual harassment,” noted Assemblywoman Gonzalez, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, “This starts with guaranteeing they receive the necessary training to keep workers safe."
“By enacting AB 1661, California is once again taking the lead in making sure that all employers – including elected officials – take seriously the need to prevent workplace sexual harassment, which unfortunately remains a widespread problem affecting millions of women,” said Jennifer Reisch, Legal Director of Equal Rights Advocates.
“It is our hope that by requiring sexual harassment prevention training for local elected officials,” said Michelle Pariset from Sacramento Collective for Women’s Rights. “We can prevent the harassment that derails lives and careers as well as save cities from having to pay valuable taxpayer dollars on settlements.”
Existing law does not explicitly mandate city elected officials to take a sexual harassment prevention training and education course. The result is inconsistency: some elected city officials take training courses like all other city employees and some elected city officials are opting out. AB 1661 will ensure that city governments cannot interpret this law differently, and that these officials complete essential sexual harassment training.