California Senate and Assembly members will soon have a new set of rules in place by which they will investigate sexual harassment complaints, according to Capital Public Radio. The policy was unanimously approved by the Joint Legislative Rules Committee and was based on guidelines created by Los Angeles County. It effectively replaces the two separate policies each house was operating under previously. New standards include creation of an investigative unit, whose members would collect evidence and interview witnesses in connection to all complaints, and an external panel, whose experts would make decisions based on the evidence and recommend potential consequences. The rules have seen some revisions in recent weeks, including adding the ability to report inappropriate behavior by third parties and lobbyists who regularly interact with government workers. This would be in addition to legislative employees and lawmakers already protected by and accountable to the policy. Furthermore, a majority of the outside panel experts will be appointed by chief justice of the California Supreme Court. The panel will act separately from legislative counsel, allowing for neutral recommendations.
Before we can truly trust lawmakers to hold others accountable, they must show themselves to be trustworthy enough to hold themselves accountable. This is as true as ever in the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. The past year has been eye opening in regards to the amount of sexual harassment that is taking place in work places across the country, including government offices. Roughly 150 women working for the state signed an open letter in October 2017 describing a culture of harassment and abuse in California politics. Three lawmakers in the state have stepped down due to accusations since then. Even more shocking are how many reports are being swept under the rug. That’s why we are seeing new policies cropping up all over the place.
It’s also why it’s so important for companies to enlist the help of outside agencies and experts to review claims, much like the new California legislature policies. Internal review committees are too susceptible to bias and personal conflicts. They are also often more apt to propose a solution that is the least disruptive overall to the company, rather than putting the interests of the victim first. The new California legislative policy also calls for more more in-depth sexual harassment training, a good first step. The hope is always that investigative committees and disciplinary action will never be necessary because preventative measures and educational experiences will be effective in curbing misdeeds. However, so long as harassment is a possibility, it’s important the proper channels be in place for people to anonymously report their claims.
It’s equally important for those who have experienced sexual harassment at work to seek advice from our knowledgable Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers before you take any action. We can advise you on your rights and help review your workplace policies to prepare you for the proper next steps. Many places of business have forced arbitration clauses, which could limit your ability to pursue outside litigation. In these instances, our attorneys can explain what you can do to best protect yourself.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
New Sexual Misconduct Plan at California Capitol Moves Investigations to Independent Unit, June 15, 2018, By Alexei Koseff and Taryn Luna, The Sacramento Bee
More Blog Entries:
Looking at Sexual Harassment Policies of State Legislatures, Feb. 10, 2018, Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyers Blog