California Legislature Adopts New Policy on Sexual Harassment


Jason Gabhart By Jason Gabhart June 29, 2018
California Legislature Adopts New Policy on Sexual Harassment

On June 25, the California Joint Committee on Rules, which governs both houses of the Legislature, approved recommendations submitted by the Joint Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response establishing a new set of policies governing how complaints of sexual harassment are handled and investigated within the state capitol in Sacramento. 

SHRM played an integral role in the establishment of the new policy and has worked closely with the committee since the beginning of the year. SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP (pictured), testified last February at the initial hearing, Best Practices for Changing Culture on Sexual Harassment, and was followed by SHRM members testifying at four separate hearings conducted by the Joint Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response.   

While the Subcommittee proposes a new policy and process to reduce sexual harassment in the Legislature, the subcommittee major focus came from a key recommendation from SHRM that "reducing sexual harassment in the Legislature requires more than simply a new policy. It requires a policy as well as the practices that support culture change." As a result, the subcommittee recommendation's center on "transforming the Legislature's workplace culture to promote respect, civility and diversity. Culture transformation is the first recommendation and the other recommendations support that transformation."   Part of the new policy will create an investigative unit under the Office of the Legislative Counsel that will investigate and report on complaints made by employees of the Legislature. After the investigation is complete, a panel consisting of five subject matter experts will determine whether the complaint has been substantiated and then recommend a response. The chief justice of the state Supreme Court will appoint three of the panelists, and each house of the Legislature will appoint one expert. 

The new policy will now go before the Rules Committee in each house, where it is expected to be approved without any issue. Once formally approved by both Rules Committees, the new policy will go into effect on February 1, 2019, or once the new investigative unit has been established. 

SHRM will monitor the implementation of the new policy, as well as continue to work with the Joint Subcommittee members and staff until the policy is finalized. 


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