Sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace is a pervasive problem in California. In the last year, movements such as Time’s Up and #Metoo have highlighted the problems of sexual harassment and assault. Following high-profile cases that have been reported widely in the media, Hollywood has taken up the cause. The California legislature has also been working to strengthen the rights of people in the workplace against sexual harassment, retaliation and discrimination. There are four pending bills that are currently wending their way through the legislature that could help to significantly strengthen the rights of sexual harassment and discrimination victims.
Senate Bill 820
Introduced by state Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) on Jan. 3, 2018, SB-820 would bar confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements of cases involving sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination. The bill would void confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements as being against public policy. The bill is currently before the Judiciary Committee. This bill is important because many civil sexual harassment settlement agreements contain confidentiality clauses that prohibit the victims from divulging factual information about what happened to them. If the bill is enacted into law, these types of clauses would be void and unenforceable, allowing victims to share what happened to them with others so that they can be warned.