Currently, California workers who are victims of harassment have one year to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). This state agency is responsible for ensuring that workers are protected by California’s anti-discrimination laws.
A bill introduced in the California Assembly on Jan. 18 would extend the time that workers have to file their complaints to three years. Filing a complaint with the DFEH is only the first step in legal action against harassment or discrimination. It must be done, however, before a lawsuit, external investigation or mediation can take place.
The three assemblywomen who sponsored the proposed legislation said that the increase in complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace by some very high-profile individuals means there is a need for victims to have additional remedies and tools. Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, a Democrat who represents Grand Terrace, said at a press conference, “We must take proactive steps to ensure that victims are protected and they know they are not alone. They must never feel intimidated to share their story.” The hope is that this bill “will allow victims the time they need to seek justice.”
The three women legislators have been serving on a committee tasked with reviewing and updating the sexual harassment policies at the Capital. There has been a lot of pressure from members of a movement called We Said Enough for the legislature to take a look at its own policies on investigating workplace harassment incidents.
In addition to this bill, there are other bills that are being considered. One would take away the right to have a confidentiality agreement in settlements in sexual misconduct cases.
Have you been discriminated against or sexually harassed at your California job? An experienced attorney can provide information on your legal options.
Source: The Sacramento Bee, “