Posted February 2019 by S. Ward Heinrichs
California “Me Too” Laws
Sexual Harassment training/Government Code §§ 12950 & 12950.1 *
No later than December 31, 2019, this law requires employers who employ 5 or more employees to provide 2 hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisors and provide 1 hour of training to all employees. Further, those statutes require the same amount of training every two years and within six months of hire or promotion. Training provided in previous years will not meet these requirements. Finally, temporary employees, including seasonal employees, must receive 1 hour of training within 30 days or 100 hours of work.
Harassment Prohibited in More Non-Employment Business Relationship/Civil Code § 51.9
This law expands the list of business relationships in which sexual harassment is prohibited. Now, elected officials, investors, lobbyists, directors, producers, and those who promote business, service, or professional relationships may not harass others.
Harassment Defamation Protection/Civil Code § 47
Certain statements made about work place sexual harassment are privileged and may not be used in a defamation suit filed by one accused of harassment: 1) The accuser’s statements about harassment to an employer are privileged when made without malice and based on credible evidence; 2) past employer’s statement made without malice to a potential future employer of a job applicant in which the past employer said that it would not rehire that applicant because the employer found that the employee had committed sexual harassment; 3) witness statements made to an employer about sexual harassment.
Settlement Confidentiality Clause/Code of Civil Procedure § 1001
Voids any provision in a settlement agreement that prevents either party from disclosing the facts of the following: 1) Sexual Assault, 2) Sexual Harassment, 3) Harassment/Discrimination Based on Sex, 4) Failure to Prevent Harassment/Discrimination Based on Sex, 5) Retaliation for Reporting Harassment/Discrimination Based on Sex. The person claiming one of the above violations may elect to keep the amount of settlement and his or her identity confidential.
Waiver of Right to Testify/Civil Code § 1670.11
This new law voids clauses in contracts or settlement agreements that waives a party’s right to testify about criminal conduct or sexual harassment when a court, legislative body, or administrative agency has requested such testimony for a proceeding by subpoena, court order, or lawful request.
Gender Representation on Board of Directors/Corporations Code §§ 301.3 & 2115.5
Companies traded on major U.S. stock exchanges that have California listed on their SEC K form as the location of a principal executive office must have at least one female on their board of directors by December 31, 2019. By December 31, 2021, those companies must have two females on their boards if the board has 5 board members and three females if the board has six or more members. “Female” includes anyone who self-identifies as a woman. By July 1, 2019, the Secretary of State must publish the companies that have at least one woman on their boards of directors.
By March 1, 2020, the Secretary of State will publish the following information annually about the corporations subject to the law: 1) Number of corporations that complied for at least one day in the past year; 2) The number of corporations that moved their Headquarters in or out of California in the past year; 3) The number of corporations no longer subject to the law.
The Secretary of State may fine a company $100,000 for failure to file the board member composition on time. Failure to have enough female board members will garner a $100,000 fine for the first offense and a $300,000 for a second offense.
* All references to statutes are to California statutes
S. Ward Heinrichs, Esq.
Employment Law Office of Ward Heinrichs
4565 Ruffner Street, Suite 207
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 408-7543 (fax