Congratulations to Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin on the unanimous vote of support for her legislation to help employers curb sexual harassment cases. AB 2770 passed out of the Assembly with full support of both Democrats and Republicans on May 7. The bill will enable businesses to avoid hiring repeat sexual harassment offenders, ending the cycle of harassment in industries across California.
The bill also protects employees from defamation lawsuits for reporting sexual harassment allegations to employers or official agencies.
Alleged harassers are not only suing victims, but also filing suit against employers for defamation. Such lawsuits put employers in an impossible position as they have an affirmative duty to take reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct harassment.
Worse, if the alleged harasser’s employment is then terminated, or the alleged harasser resigns, employers are put in an even more difficult position. The company has knowledge of the harassing activity and yet its hands are tied.
If the company tells a potential employer that the employee was accused of harassing conduct, the company is on the hook for a defamation claim. If the company stays silent, the harassers are then free to victimize more individuals at their next job without anyone at the new company ever knowing about the unacceptable behavior.
By addressing this situation, AB 2770 will reduce frivolous lawsuits and allow an employer to use the financial resources that would have been diverted to litigation to grow its workforce instead.
AB 2770 will be heard in the Senate before (hopefully!) becoming law.
The bill was sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce and supported by employer groups and local chambers of commerce throughout the state.
Thank you, Assemblymember Irwin!!