Legislation Protecting Victims of Harassment from Retaliation Passes Committee

Senator Leyva: “We will not tolerate efforts to silence victims”

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

SACRAMENTO – The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) to ensure that individuals can be held personally liable for retaliating against an employee for exercising their legal rights against discrimination and harassment under state law.

Co-sponsored by Equal Rights Advocates and California Employment Lawyers Association, SB 1038 clarifies that individuals may be held personally liable for taking retaliatory action against workers who assert their legal rights under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).  Under current law, individuals may already be held personally liable for harassment claims under FEHA.  However, the California Supreme Court’s decision in Jones v. The Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership (2008) 42 Cal. 4th 1158 rendered the issue of whether individuals may not be held personally liable for retaliation unclear.  By clarifying in statute that individuals can also be held personally liable in cases of retaliation, SB 1038 will protect current and future potential victims of harassment.

“The many disturbing stories that have emerged since the #MeToo and #WeSaidEnough movements began are a clear reminder that we must do more to protect victims of harassment from being retaliated against for exercising their legal rights under the law,” Senator Leyva said.  “Far too often, women and men have bravely come forward and filed grievances, only to be demoted, further harassed or even fired.  Not only is this behavior repugnant, but it should also be clear that California law will stand on the side of victims.  SB 1038 puts harassers on notice that retaliating against victims for asserting their rights has legal consequences and we will not tolerate efforts to silence victims.  I thank my colleagues for supporting this common sense legislation that builds on ongoing efforts to protect victims of sexual harassment and other related forms of harassment.”

Senator Leyva authored legislation signed into law to eliminate the statute of limitations on rape (SB 813) in 2016 and to criminalize sextortion (SB 500) in 2017, and is currently leading efforts to ban secret settlements in cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sex discrimination (SB 820).

Following today’s passage by the Senate Judiciary Committee, SB 1038 will next be considered on the Senate Floor later this spring.