Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law several new bills, including one that extends statute of limitations time frame to file sexual harassment claims; another prohibiting confidential settlement agreements for sexual harassment claims and a third requiring mandatory sexual harassment training for all business with five employees or more. These new laws become effective here in California on January 1, 2019.
Assembly Bill 1619
Currently, California law provided a three-year statute of limitations on civil claims for sexual assault. Under the new law, the window of time to bring such a claim has more than tripled, from three years to ten years.
Senate Bill 820
An employer is prohibited from maintaining confidential settlements, or otherwise including non-disclosure provisions within settlement agreements, involving sexual assault, harassment, discrimination, or claims for failure to prevent such workplace mistreatment.
It also allows for the aggrieved person to maintain confidentiality while permitting them to publicly disclose the settlement payment amount if they so choose.
Senate Bill 1343
Lastly, if your business employees five or more persons, California law now requires all supervisory employees to undergo at least two hours of sexual harassment-prevention training and also requires at least one hour of such training for non-supervisory employees. This includes seasonal and temporary employees, as well.
This law greatly expands the type and number of employers subject to the obligations of sexual harassment prevention training. Notably, prior to the implementation of this bill, only California employers of 50 or more employees were required to provide such training, and it was limited to only supervisory employees.
California employers will be wise to reach out to their employment counsel to ensure compliance with these new laws impacting their business in the coming year.
Michael R. Fostakowsky, Esq., is a member of the employment and labor law department of Poole & Shaffery. The attorneys at Poole & Shaffery are well-versed in the new legislation and ready to assist employers with their legal needs, including litigation, counseling, handbook creation/amendment and employee training.