By Rachel Barkin
If you are familiar with the #MeToo movement, you may have come across the term “hush money.” Actress Rose McGowan was offered $1 million of hush money from Harvey Weinstein to sign a non-disclosure agreement after speaking out about sexual harassment claims. The unfortunate reality is that hush money is not only prevalent in Hollywood, but in every industry from food corporations to law firms.
Another huge deterrent to victims filing lawsuits is the current law that authorizes the courts to award the winning party attorney’s fees and costs. If a victim loses their lawsuit, they could have to pay millions of dollars to the company out of pocket.
This practice of silencing victims with money comes at an even greater price; it not only affects the individual but the industry as a whole. Rapists who are able to avoid the consequences of committing sexual assault are more likely to perpetrate again. Future victims are less likely to report when they observe others being pressured into silence. Not only is this a civil rights issue but a workplace safety concern.
Additionally, with current law, workplace sexual harassment training is NOT required for all employees. This creates an even bigger safety risk; untrained non-management employees can also be perpetrators, or, even more prevalent, these workers don’t know their rights when they are harassed.
California laws mandate a high standard of safety in every workplace for both management and non-management employees. It is essential that Human Resources do not take sexual harassment claims lightly and provide information to all employees. Senate Bill 1300 provides solutions to the problems of hush money and lack of training.
What Senate Bill 1300 proposes:
- Prohibit employers from bribing victims, with a raise or bonus, for an exchange of silence
- Require employers with 50 or more employees to provide 2 hours of sexual harassment and bystander training to ALL employees (non-management and management)
- Provide information to ALL employees on how to report harassment (non-management and management)
- Require a court finding the losing plaintiff’s action was “frivolous, unreasonable or totally without foundation,” for a company to recover fees and costs. This new standard will greatly aid in the prosecution of workplace harassment.
Full legislation text: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1300
You can help!
You can now support this bill with only two taps on your phone! If you click on this bill under “2Bikes” on the ClickMyCause app, you can send a pre-written message to your representative urging them to support SB1300. Act Now!