Nov 13, 2015 (SACRAMENTO) California State Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) announced legislation today to require all local elected officials to take the same sexual harassment prevention training required of city staff and state legislative bodies.
The bill would clarify that sexual harassment prevention training must be completed within a six-month period of assuming office for local elected officials and must be repeated every two years. The proposal by McCarty and Gonzalez, which will be formally introduced in January 2016, is reflective of current law after the enactment of AB 1825 (2004), which established requirements for sexual harassment training in the workplace. However, the existing state law does not explicitly require city elected officials to attend sexual harassment training, which has been interpreted differently across California’s local governments.
“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,” said Assemblywoman Gonzalez, who chairs the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace. “This starts with guaranteeing they receive the necessary training to keep workers safe.”
“This is no different than what is required of members of the Legislature and it’s a simple requirement that puts all cities and counties on the same legal footing,” McCarty said. “For too long ,valuable taxpayer dollars have been used to settle harassment cases – dollars that could have been better spent providing additional police, fire or parks services.”
Local governments across the state have felt the financial consequences of sexual harassment claims against local elected officials, including in San Diego, where former Mayor Bob Filner reportedly avoided attending sexual harassment prevention training before resigning less than a year into his term under the weight of allegations that he sexually harassed several City of San Diego employees and residents. The special election to replace Filner and the financial settlements agreed to by the plaintiffs cost San Diego taxpayers millions of dollars.