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Bob Filner Scandal Prompts Lawmaker To Lobby For Harassment Training

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Photo credit: Associated Press

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., June 25, 2015.

A San Diego assemblywoman announced Thursday plans to introduce legislation that would require local elected officials in California to undergo sexual harassment training within six months of taking office.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, a co-author of the bill with Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, said the officials would also be required to repeat the training every two years.

Current state law requires city staff and legislative bodies to take such training, but its impact on local elected officials needs to be clarified, according to the legislators.

They said local governments have varying interpretations of the law. "Elected officials have a higher bar as supervisors to understand the laws that protect their employees and to ensure their workplaces are free from sexual harassment," Gonzalez said. "This starts with guaranteeing they receive the necessary training to keep workers safe."

Gonzalez said her bill, which she intends to introduce in January, stems from San Diego's experience with former Mayor Bob Filner, who resigned after allegedly sexually harassing as many as 20 women.

It was revealed at the time that Filner and a large number of his mayoral staff didn't take a sexual harassment course until eight months after he took office, and after he and the city had been sued by his former communications director.

The lawsuit was eventually settled, and Filner pleaded guilty to one felony count of false imprisonment by violence and two misdemeanor counts of battery for sexually harassing three women while in office. He was sentenced to three years probation.

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