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Assembly Passes Lorena Gonzalez’ Bill To Protect Contracted Workers From Harassment

In this Aug. 22, 2018, photo, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San D...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: In this Aug. 22, 2018, photo, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, celebrates as the state Senate approves her forced arbitration bill in Sacramento, Calif.

The state Assembly voted 49-17 on Monday in favor of legislation authored by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-80, that is designed to tackle workplace sexual harassment for contracted workers.

Assembly Bill 170 would establish joint liability on companies and the contracting companies they work with when their contracted employees are harassed on the job. According to Gonzalez, these workers often have little recourse in the event that they're harassed and many cases often go unreported.

A 2011 ABC News/Washington Post study Gonzalez cited found that 64 percent of people who had been sexually harassed at work did not report it. Of those who didn't report their harassment, 40 percent expressed doubt that it would do any good or concern about facing repercussions.

More than three million people work for contracting firms, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Janitorial and housekeeping services are more often being outsourced to staffing agencies, making it more difficult for workers to find recourse when they are harassed or assaulted on the job," Gonzalez said. "The legislation passed today in the Assembly holds contracting companies, and businesses that use them, responsible when sexual harassment happens on their watch to their workers."

Gonzalez introduced the bill in January with a companion bill, AB 171, which would establish a presumption of retaliation if an employee is fired within 90 days of reporting on-the-job sexual harassment. AB 171 is still making its way through the Assembly committee process.


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