As introduced, Senate Bill 396 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) dealt with medical residence training programs. However, recently the contents of the bill were stripped out and replaced with new and unrelated language (a procedure referred to as a “gut and amend” in legislative lingo). The new language proposes to expand California employers’ obligations regarding sexual harassment training.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that a circuit that for years has held that staring can constitute sexual harassment would find that excessive hugging may be illegal, too. The 9th Circuit (which covers California and other western states) in Zetwick v. County of Yolo, held that it is for a jury to decide whether a male county sheriff’s hugging of a female correctional officer amounted to unlawful harassment.
Not only are we in the midst of an election year in which the tone of debate is often harsh and personal but culture warriors are ubiquitous in the media, thrashing about over immigration, race, same-sex marriage, transgender restroom use, sexual assault, religious fanaticism – the list continues to grow. How much do employers have to worry about when these debates are carried into the workplace?
New regulations from California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council went into effect April 1, 2016 and among other things, these regulations require employers of five or more employees to have a written policy against unlawful harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. This policy must contain certain provisions.