Sexual Harassment Prevention and Ethics Legislation Advances

Also during the week, the Senate approved an omnibus bill addressing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, protecting hotel and casino employees from sexual harassment by guests, and updating government ethics laws.

All employers in the state will now be required to provide sexual harassment prevention training to their employees, with enhanced training required for those working in restaurants and bars. Hotels and casinos will be required to have anti-sexual harassment policies in place and to provide employees with a safety or notification devices.

Another provision prohibits a union from having the same union representative representing both the victim and the alleged perpetrator in a sexual harassment case. Victims of gender violence will be allowed to take unpaid leave to seek medical help, legal assistance, counseling, safety planning or other assistance. 

The legislation also makes a number of changes to update sexual harassment prevention and ethics laws regarding public officials, and for those who interact with the legislature.

Beginning in 2020, State Officials, state employees and lobbyists will be required to take sexual harassment and unlawful discrimination prevention training annually.

For both the Executive Inspectors General and the Legislative Inspector General, the time frame for filing a complaint with the appropriate Ethics Commission will be 12 months after the IG’s receipt of the allegation of the violation. The bill creates a Complainants Bill of Rights for persons who are subjected to discrimination, harassment, or sexual harassment, and spells out a complainant’s rights in the case.

Other governmental units are required to adopt an ordinance amending their sexual harassment policies to provide for a mechanism for reporting and independent review of allegations of sexual harassment made against elected government officials.

The bill also clarifies which offices file statements of economic interest with the Secretary of State and which offices file with the County Clerks.

Jil Tracy

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