Last week, Governor Brown signed into law protections for staff in CA’s state senate and state legislature who report instances of sexual misconduct in our state government. The bill, which was sponsored by Assemblymember Melissa Melendez and co-sponsored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman, extends the same whistleblower protections provided to private sector employees to the staff of our state’s elected leaders.
Specifically, the law holds that any lawmaker, or someone on his or her staff, who interferes with, or retaliates against, a legislative employee’s reporting of a violation of the law or legislative standard of conduct — including sexual harassment — will be subject to criminal and civil penalties.
The penalties for retaliating against a staff whistleblower is $10,000 and a year in county jail. A victim would also have the right to file a lawsuit and seek damages.
OCYD applauds CA’s state leaders for passing this legislation, yet we also note that such protections are long overdue. In fact, a similar bill was proposed on four separate occasions, but it took the #metoo movement for the law to pass. Nevertheless, we are heartened that things are moving in the right direction. No one — particularly elected officials — is above the law. No one should be able to get away with sexual harassment or abuse due to their position of power, or with retaliating against those who report them for their abuses. #metoo #DoBetterOC #wesaidenough