Sacramento –Yesterday, the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee voted to pass AB 9, The Stop Harassment and Reporting Extension (SHARE) Act on a vote of 5 to 0. The SHARE Act introduced by Assemblymember Eloise Reyes (D-San Bernardino) and jointly authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) and Assemblymember Marie Waldron (D-Escondido) extends the timeline to bring forward a complaint of workplace harassment from one year to three years.
“Time and again, we’ve seen universal recognition of the need for change inside our workplace environment and culture,” said Assemblymember Reyes. “Numerous media stories, witness and survivor testimonies have all demonstrated that one year is simply not enough time to bring forward a complaint. For many workers they may not even be aware of their rights, nor even realize that they can report the harassing behavior.”
Gabriela Sanders an electrician who worked at a male-dominated company in Pomona when she was harassed and sexually assaulted by a co-worker testified at the hearing. Ms. Sanders stated “It was the worst experience of my career, but my bosses didn’t do anything after I complained. I was scared to keep pushing, because I knew there would be lay-offs coming. I didn’t know what to do…who to get help from, other than my employer. I didn’t know my legal rights.” After a year passed, Sanders sought legal advice but missed her deadline to file a harassment complaint by just a few days.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is designed to protect employees from workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation base on protected characteristics such as sex and gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, age, religion, disability, and more. Often, harassment based on gender, race, religious preferences or other protected characteristics leads to, or is connected with sexual harassment.
Under current law (Government Code § 12960) a victim of harassment must file a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year from the date of the last incident of harassment. The FEHA requires employers to "take reasonable steps to prevent and correct wrongful (harassing, discriminatory, retaliatory) behavior in the workplace.