Stronger California Advocates Network Celebrates Legislative Wins for Women & Families
October 16. 2019
For Immediate Release
Oct 16, 2019
Jess Eagle, Strategic Communications Manager
Equal Rights Advocates
New laws address sexual harassment, lactation accommodations, child care, predatory lending & more
SACRAMENTO — The Stronger California Advocates Network, made up of over 50 California nonprofits and advocacy groups, celebrates wins from a bold legislative agenda to address sexual harassment, a lack of affordable child care, forced arbitration, and other issues facing working women and families across California.
The Network works in partnership with members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus every year to support policies that advance economic security for working women and families. The wins from the 2019 Legislative Agenda represent important progress towards addressing the multiple barriers that converge to hold women and other workers back and keep families in living poverty.
These legislative victories include:
- AB 9 (Reyes): Extends the administrative filing deadline for harassment and other discrimination claims under the Fair Employment & Housing Act from one year to three years. The current one-year limit is significantly less time than other civil claims and is particularly harmful to low-wage workers who are often unaware of their rights and work in industries with higher rates of harassment. (Cosponsored by Stronger CA members Equal Rights Advocates, California Employment Lawyers Association & Consumer Attorneys of California)
- AB 749 (Stone): Prohibits “no rehire” clauses in settlement agreements that broadly restrict future employment opportunities for workers settling a sexual harassment or other type of employment dispute. These provisions impose a substantial burden on a worker’s ability to work in their chosen occupation simply for having asserted their rights and chill employees from reporting workplace misconduct for fear of lasting repercussions on their careers. (Cosponsored by Stronger CA members Equal Rights Advocates & California Employment Lawyers Association)
- AB 51 (Gonzalez): Prevents employers from requiring workers to sign waiver of rights or forum agreements, including forced arbitration agreements, as a condition of employment and will prohibit employer retaliation against a worker who declines to sign such an agreement. These agreements are used to silence victims of sexual harassment, wage theft, and other workplace violations and keep them from seeking justice in court. (Cosponsored by Stronger CA member Consumer Attorneys of California)
- SB 234 (Skinner): Eliminates local zoning and business license requirements that have kept family child care providers from caring for children statewide. This bill also strengthens and clarifies housing protections so family child care providers can continue to offer early care and education for children, especially infants and toddlers, and support working families. (Cosponsored by Stronger CA member Child Care Law Center)
- AB 378 (Limón): Gives family child care providers the right to collectively bargain with the state so they can negotiate for improvements that impact the work they do and the families they serve.
- SB 142 (Wiener): Strengthens workplace lactation accommodation requirements to ensure that breastfeeding parents are able to return to work without being required to prematurely stop breastfeeding. (Cosponsored by Stronger CA members Legal Aid at Work & the California Work & Family Coalition)
- AB 539 (Limón): Fights predatory lending practices by capping interest rates for loans between $2,500 and $10,000, thereby putting an end to the triple digit interest rates that keep hard-working Californians in debt traps. (Cosponsored by Stronger CA members Western Center on Law & Poverty & CA Asset Building Coalition)
These gains build on budget wins earlier in the year that:
- Create a Domestic Worker Rights Education & Outreach Program within the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement to ensure adequate education and enforcement of domestic workers’ rights.
- Fight deep childhood poverty by allocating long overdue grant increases for families receiving CalWORKs assistance.
- Ensure continuity of reliable, affordable and quality child care for low-income families receiving CalWORKS assistance and expands affordable child care and preschool to more than 20,000 families.
Quotes from Advocates
“The 2019 Stronger California Women’s Economic Security Agenda is a justice agenda for everyone. It tells the story of what workers, families, and people across genders need to live economically secure lives. These 2019 wins build on 24 major policy and budget victories over the past four years driven by community power, helping millions of Californians and influencing similar change in states across the country.”
- Noreen Farrell, Chair, Stronger California Advocates Network; Executive Director, Equal Rights Advocates
“AB 749 addresses the unjust reality that many workers face when asserting their employment rights – that they must give up their job and career opportunities, even years into the future, just to resolve their employment claim. By prohibiting the use of “no rehire” clauses in settlement agreements, workers will no longer face punitive employment consequences as a result of settling their claim. We thank Assemblymember Stone, Governor Newsom, and all the advocates who helped make this bill a reality.”
- Mariko Yoshihara, Policy Director and Legislative Counsel, California Employment Lawyers Association
“We are thrilled Governor Newsom signed SB 142—the most comprehensive lactation accommodation law in the nation. Breastfeeding is one of the best preventative health measures for both babies and breastfeeding parents and bestows significant economic benefits. With the passage of SB 142, all California parents, particularly parents in low income jobs, will now have the supports they need to continue to feed their child how they choose without risking their family’s economic security.”
- Jenna Gerry, Senior Staff Attorney, Legal Aid at Work
“Critical to any mother’s ability to confidently walk out the door every day is access to quality, affordable child care that is stable, flexible, and uninterrupted. The legislature and Governor Newsom passed an early childhood budget that helps the whole child, the whole family and the whole community. In particular, we welcome the sweeping fiscal and policy changes that will give families in CalWORKs reliable, quality child care and open opportunities for families to get ahead and stay ahead.”
- Mary Ignatius, Statewide Organizer, Parent Voices
“Good, affordable child care creates stability and opens opportunities for children, families, and communities. We thank Governor Newsom, Senator Skinner, and the State Legislature for their dedication to making sure that every child has a strong start in life. We are all working hard to provide the best for our children. SB 234 helps child care providers meet the needs of today’s working families.”
- Kim Kruckel, Executive Director, Child Care Law Center
“We are so thankful for Assemblymember Limon’s leadership and commitment to combating predatory lending in California. These lenders have targeted the most vulnerable communities in California for far too long. They have proliferated the market so much that families become increasingly unaware of the lenders who offer safer products. We have witnessed countless families endure financial damage as they attempt to keep up with loan payments on loans with more than 100% APR. We look forward to the end of predatory lending in California.”
- Sabrina Hamm, Managing Director, California Asset Building Coalition
“We celebrate Governor Gavin Newsom and the State Legislature’s unprecedented steps to protect the rights and dignity of domestic workers in California,” says Kimberly Alvarenga, the Director of the California Domestic Workers Coalition. “By establishing this landmark program, California is taking seriously the legacy of exclusion from labor protections within the domestic work industry and taking steps toward ensuring that rights become a reality for all immigrant women workers.”
- Kim Alvarenga, Executive Director, California Domestic Workers Coalition
“The 2019 budget allocation for CalWORKs households helps the poorest families in California, over 90% of whom are female headed households. The increase in grants addresses a historical imbalance in the grant structure and moves the state closer to fulfilling the pledge to end deep poverty for families with children. We commend the legislature and Governor Newsom for prioritizing the California families that need the most help.”
- Jessica Bartholow, Policy Advocate, Western Center on Poverty & Law