CA Gov. Signs All 3 ERA #MeToo Bills into Law

October 15. 2019
Jess Eagle

We are thrilled to share the news that Governor Gavin Newsom has signed the third and final of our 2019 #MeToo bills into law. This is a major victory for workers and sexual harassment survivors across California, as well as civil rights advocates, and the #MeToo movement nationally.

Taking effect January 1, 2020, these new laws provide concrete solutions to common employer practices that allow sexual harassment to continue in our workplaces, making it easier and safer for California workers to report sexual harassment and seek justice. Read more about the bills below. We are hopeful these bills will inspire similar legislation in other states.

The new laws represent important progress toward ensuring California workers have laws that not only provide strong protections against sexual harassment, but that also remove the barriers workers often face in asserting their rights and seeking justice after harassment occurs. 

Since the rise in popularity of the #MeToo movement, which “went viral” exactly two years ago today, public awareness has grown about the extent to which sexual harassment and discrimination harm working people who are simply trying to do their jobs, especially women of color and those in low-paid positions. There has also been growing recognition that our laws have failed to adequately protect workers from harassment and other abuses and, in some cases, have prevented them from coming forward to report.

Our state’s message is clear: The #MeToo movement is not something that happened, but rather something that is just beginning. Advocates like ERA and our allies will continue fighting until all workers are fully protected and empowered to seek justice.

California has long been a leader in advancing more robust legal protections against sexual harassment and other abuses that serve as barriers to women achieving full equality in the workplace. By signing these bills into law, Gov. Newsom has deepened California’s commitment to leading the nation on anti-sexual harassment legislation with concrete solutions. 

Our state’s message is clear: The #MeToo movement is not something that happened, but rather something that is just beginning. Advocates like ERA and our allies will continue fighting until all workers are fully protected and empowered to seek justice.

This victory was only possible as the result of a broad, concerted collective effort with our co-sponsors California Employment Lawyers Association and the Consumer Attorneys of California; our fellow Stronger California Coalition member organizations; our partners at the California Legislative Women’s Caucus; and hundreds of passionate ERA supporters like you who emailed, called, and tweeted at elected officials.


About the Bills

  • Assembly Bill 9 (Reyes, Friedman, Waldron)

AB 9 will extend the time for filing employment-related harassment and discrimination complaints from one year to three years. In so doing, the bill addresses the unfairly short deadline under current law that prevents many workers who have experienced sexual harassment from being able to seek legal redress for the harms they have suffered. This is particularly important for low-wage workers who are more likely to be unaware of their rights and the applicable statute of limitations.

  • Assembly Bill 749 (Stone)

AB 749 will prohibit the use of “no rehire” clauses in settlement agreements, which broadly restrict future employment opportunities for workers settling sexual harassment or other types of employment disputes. These clauses often bar workers not only from returning to their same employer, but also from working at any workplace that is owned, operated, affiliated, or that contracts with the employer. These provisions can therefore impose a substantial burden on a worker’s ability to work in their chosen occupation simply for asserting their rights. These clauses are especially concerning when they require the victim of discrimination or sexual harassment to forgo future employment, while the offender remains in the job. They can therefore also have a chilling effect on reporting from employees who experience workplace misconduct for fear of lasting repercussions on their careers.

  • Assembly Bill 51 (Gonzalez)

AB 51 will prevent employers from requiring workers to sign waiver-of-rights agreements — including forced arbitration agreements — as a condition of employment, and will make it unlawful for an employer to retaliate against workers who decline to sign these agreements. This law will therefore ensure that workers are given a real choice as to whether to waive their right to bring a potential future claim (such as sexual harassment) to a court or a government agency, or to go through their employer’s internal arbitration process. 

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