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AB 9 – SHARE Stop Harassment and Reporting Extension

Why so we need another law about Sexual Harassment?

 

Existing law prohibits any form of harassment based on a protected category, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability and other categories protected under California law.  Currently, the law requires a person claiming to be aggrieved by alleged workplace harassment to file a verified complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within one year from the date of occurrence.  AB 9 extends that deadline to 3 years.

The increase in allotted time The AB 9 extension was purportedly designed to protect #MeToo litigants, who may process incidents of sexual harassment or assault more slowly than other forms of discrimination.

Extending the statute of limitations means that a lawsuit could be filed four years after the comment, conduct, or action an employee (or former employee) alleges was harassing or discriminatory. Given the overburdened state of California’s courts—such litigation already takes up to five years to get to trial—now employers face a gap of up to nine years between an employee’s alleged harassment or discrimination and trial.

This change will put employers in a difficult position. The reason that limitations periods for the filing of discrimination complaints were relatively short was to put employers on notice so they could preserve evidence. Now, employers will find themselves having to piece together documents, evidence, and witness statements long after key witnesses have left, memories have faded, and helpful documents (such as emails) are long gone. This could have a devastating effect on employers’ ability to defend the claims against them.