Sacramento, CA (Law Firm Newswire) September 17, 2015 – A California state law called Assembly Bill 1825, which was enacted in 2004, mandates that employers in California with over 50 employees provide training on sexual harassment prevention to all supervisors every two years.
The law was passed in response to accusations of groping that were alleged against former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the time of the 2003 recall campaign. It was Schwarzenegger who signed the bill into law.
Although lawmakers in Sacramento are required to take such training every two years, it is unclear whether local elected officials are receiving the same type of education. For instance, there are a number of Sacramento City Council members who have not taken anti-harassment training by the city or have not enrolled in a class in many years.
Prominent employment lawyer Deborah Barron said, “Anti-harassment training is an integral part of the process of educating people who are in positions of power and influence about sexual harassment and its prevention.”
According to City Attorney James Sanchez, he informed council members that while they are under no obligation to take the training, he encouraged them to enroll in a course. In November 2013, Sanchez communicated to the City Council that because elected officials are not treated as city employees, there is no requirement that they receive the training.
Nevertheless, he also stated that the office highly encourages all elected officials to enroll in the classes. The receipt of training by elected officials would serve to strengthen the position of the city in its contention that it implemented measures needed to prevent harassment and discrimination.
In all probability, the city’s policy will be strictly enforced since Mayor Kevin Johnson told his employees that he recommends that each member of the council complete anti-harassment training by the end of September. Furthermore, Johnson stated that he would request that the city attorney consider making the training mandatory.
Earlier this year, Johnson and Councilman Allen Warren were alleged to have committed sexual harassment. In May, a prior staff aide to City Manager John Shirley named Johnson in a claim. But Johnson refuted the accusations, and the claim was subsequently determined by the city attorney and an outside law firm to be unfounded. Later, on July 31, a prior staff person in Warren’s office filed a claim alleging that Warren threatened her with dismissal if she terminated their sexual relationship. The city attorney is conducting an investigation into the allegations, which Warren has refuted.
Councilman Steve Hansen requested that the city auditor review Sacramento’s sexual harassment policies. Hansen stated that he completed the training while working for his previous private employer. Under state law, one can receive such training from a different employer.
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