U.S. Capital

California Program for Tracking Sexual Harassment in Government Delayed by a Year

Aug 19, 2019

San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) August 19, 2019 – A $1.5 million program for tracking sexual harassment and discrimination complaints across California state government is scheduled to be implemented in January 2020. It will be launching a full year later than former Gov. Jerry Brown had originally planned.

Brown announced the project as part of an effort to address allegations of gender-based harassment in state government departments that emerged amid the #MeToo movement. A $1.5 million budget was requested in fiscal year 2018-19 to build the system, hire a contractor and create three permanent employee positions to operate the program. The budget request indicated it was initially expected to be ready by December 2018.

“Having a tracking system in place is a vital part of proactively addressing sexual harassment and preventing it from occurring in the workplace,” commented attorney Jason Erlich of San Francisco-based employment law firm McCormack & Erlich. “The hope is that the new tool will allow the state government to monitor and analyze harassment complaints within its departments. It can also help better identify repeat instances of harassment by the same people.”

The California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) has been tasked with building and operating the system. It will automatically consolidate data on sexual harassment and discrimination complaints from employees at state agencies. The data will be available to the public.

The system will also collect formal complaints filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. In addition, it will help the state identify agency directors who fail to comply with sexual harassment training requirements.

Each department will enter new complaints into the system once it is up and running, including harassment claims based on race, gender, sexual orientation and other protected characteristics. CalHR will be able to view names of individuals under investigation, as well as case updates and outcomes.

CalHR Director Eraina Ortega described the original December 2018 timeline as “not realistic.” She said CalHR will test the system this summer and train directors and administrators across the state’s departments on how to use it.

California did not have a way to track sexual harassment complaints across its 150 government departments after the previous system was eliminated in 2012 amid budget cuts and a human resources departmental overhaul. As a result, the state was unable to track employees accused of sexual harassment who switched departments after settling harassment cases. Following several sexual harassment allegations against high-profile public officials, Brown formed a working group of agency directors who recommended reinstating the complaint tracking program in its current iteration.

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