California Law Extends Sexual Harassment Protections

Sacramento, CA– California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new law that will extend sexual harassment protections ton employees. State Bill 292 clarifies that employees do not have to prove desire was a motivation in the harassment to have grounds to sue a boss.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Ellen Corbett who stated that a California Supreme Court decision in Kelley vs. The Conco Company case confused and weakened the state’s sexual harassment laws.

In that case, a homosexual man, who was working as a welder’s apprentice was subjected to repeated slurs about his sexual orientation, explicit sexual talk and insults from his male coworkers.  He filed a sexual harassment suit against the company, but in 2011, the state Supreme Court found that even though the behavior was abusive, it was not sufficient enough grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit since Kelley could not prove the harassment stemmed from “sexual attraction.” The court further stated that rules under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act required that the harassment must be driven by the accused’s desire for sex, the Business Insider reported.

That decision was contrary to a previous California Appellate court decision in the Singleton v. United States Gypsum Company case from five years earlier.In that case, the appeals court stated that an employee only had to prove they were treated differently or was subjected to inappropriate behavior that was not motivated by sexual desire to have sufficient grounds for a sexual harassment suit.

Rep. Corbett sought to clarify the harassment laws and bring FEHA rules in line with federal sexual harassment regulations, which do not require a plaintiff prove sexual harassment is motivated by the perpetrator’s desire to initiate a sexual relationship.

Under federal regulations, plaintiffs in sexual harassment cases only have to prove that the behavior is pervasive and creates a hostile work environment. There doesn’t have to be sexual desire to prove.

“SB 292 ensures that all Californians who are sexually harassed will receive the wide range of protections under existing law,” she explained. “I thank Governor Brown for signing this important legislation that protects all individuals whenever they are sexually harassed in the workplace, regardless of motivation.”

The new law will extend protections to employees of all sexual orientations and assure that anyone who is subjected to a hostile work environment can sue their employers if they fail to protect them for the behavior or fail to take action against the offending employee.

S.B. 292 overturns the Supreme Court’s decision and now protects same-sex employees who are subjected to ridicule because of their sexual preferences.

Regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, harassment is detrimental to their psychological health and can make for a toxic working environment. Despite the many laws, sexual harassment is a problem that thousands of American workers face on a daily basis. If you are regularly subjected to sexual harassment, you can stop the misconduct by reporting the harasser and contacting a sexual harassment attorney. With their help you can seek compensation for lost wages and emotional distress.