BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1661


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          Date of Hearing:   April 6, 2016


                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT


                           Susan Talamantes Eggman, Chair


          AB 1661  
          (McCarty and Gonzalez) - As Amended March 17, 2016


          SUBJECT:  Local government: sexual harassment training and  
          education.


          SUMMARY:  Requires local agency officials to receive sexual  
          harassment training and education.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Requires, if a local agency provides any type of compensation,  
            salary, or stipend to a local agency official of that agency,  
            all local agency officials of that agency to receive sexual  
            harassment training and education pursuant to this bill. 



          2)Allows a local agency to also require any of its employees to  
            receive sexual harassment training and education pursuant to  
            this bill.



          3)Requires each local agency official, or employee who is so  
            required, to receive at least two hours of sexual harassment  
            training and education within the first six months of taking  
            office or commencing employment, and every two years  
            thereafter.








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          4)Requires the training and education required by this bill to  
            include information and practical guidance regarding the  
            federal and state statutory provisions concerning the  
            prohibition against, and the prevention and correction of,  
            sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of  
            sexual harassment in employment. 



          5)Requires the training and education to also include practical  
            examples aimed at instructing the local agency official in the  
            prevention of sexual harassment, discrimination, and  
            retaliation, and to be presented by trainers or educators with  
            knowledge and expertise in the prevention of sexual  
            harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. 



          6)Allows a local agency or an association of local agencies to  
            offer one or more training courses, or sets of self-study  
            materials with tests, to meet the requirements of this bill.   
            These courses may be taken at home, in person, or online.



          7)Requires all providers of training courses to provide  
            participants with proof of participation to meet the  
            requirements of this bill.



          8)Requires a local agency to provide information on training  
            available to meet the requirements of this bill to its local  
            agency officials and its employees at least once annually.










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          9)Requires a local agency that requires its local agency  
            officials or employees to complete the sexual harassment  
            training and education prescribed by this bill to maintain  
            records indicating both of the following:



             a)   The dates that local agency officials or employees  
               satisfied the requirements of this article; and,



             b)   The entity that provided the training.



          10)Requires, notwithstanding any other law, a local agency to  
            maintain the records required by this bill for at least five  
            years after local agency officials or employees receive the  
            training.  These records are public records subject to  
            disclosure under the California Public Records Act, as  
            specified.



          11)Provides the following definitions:



             a)   "Legislative body" means the governing body of a city,  
               county, city and county, or special district;



             b)   "Local agency" means a city, county, city and county,  
               charter city, charter county, charter city and county, or  
               special district; and,









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             c)   "Local agency official" means any member of a local  
               agency governing body and any elected local agency  
               official.



          12)Finds and declares that all employees should have the same  
            opportunity to work in a safe and harassment free environment  
            and therefore, sexual harassment training and education for  
            all local agency officials is a matter of statewide concern  
            and, not merely a municipal affair, as that term is used in  
            Section 5 of Article XI of the California Constitution.   
            Therefore, this bill shall apply to charter cities, charter  
            counties, and charter cities and counties.


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Requires all local agency officials to receive training in  
            ethics, at specified intervals, if the local agency provides  
            any type of compensation, salary, or stipend to those  
            officials. 


          2)Requires an employer having 50 or more employees to provide at  
            least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive  
            training and education regarding sexual harassment to all  
            supervisory employees in California within six months of their  
            assumption of a supervisory position, and once every two years  
            thereafter.


          3)Defines, for purposes of 2), above, "employer" to mean any  
            person regularly employing 










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          50 or more persons or regularly receiving the services of 50 or  
            more persons providing services pursuant to a contract, or any  
            person acting as an agent of an employer, directly or  
            indirectly, the state, or any political or civil subdivision  
            of the state, and cities.
          FISCAL EFFECT:  None


          COMMENTS: 


          1)Bill Summary.  This bill requires local agency officials to  
            receive two hours of sexual harassment training and education  
            within the first six months of taking office or commencing  
            employment, and every two years thereafter.  The requirements  
            of the bill apply only if a local agency provides any type of  
            compensation, salary, or stipend to its local agency  
            officials.  Pursuant to the definitions provided in the bill,  
            its requirements would apply to any member of a governing body  
            and any elected official of cities and counties (including  
            charter cities and charter counties), and special districts.
            The bill allows a local agency to also require any of its  
            employees to receive sexual harassment training and education  
            as outlined in the bill.  This bill is sponsored by Equal  
            Rights Advocates.


          


          2)Authors' Statement.  According to the authors, "In 2004, AB  
            1825 (Reyes) established requirements for sexual harassment  
            prevention training in the workplace.  Specifically, it  
            required that employers of 50 or more employees must provide  
            training of a (minimum) of two hours on sexual harassment  
            prevention training to all supervisors and once every two  
            years.  Also, it stated that these trainings should be  
            conducted with existing state resources.  In addition, AB 1825  
            mandated that training needed to be renewed every two years in  








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            order to keep employers/employees updated and refreshed on how  
            to report, prevent, and recognize sexual harassment.  



            "However, existing law does not explicitly require city or  
            county elected officials to take (a) sexual harassment  
            prevention training course.  Some cities have interpreted AB  
            1825 to not apply to city council members, while some cities  
            have found that it does apply.  This loophole has caused  
            significant confusion.  The cost to cities to litigate and/or  
            settle claims for sexual harassment suits is in the hundreds  
            of thousands of dollars, which result in a significant loss of  
            revenue (and) diverts funds from essential constituent  
            services.





            "This bill aims to eliminate confusion by requiring that all  
            city, county, charter city, charter county, charter city and  
            county, special district employees, and city elected officials  
            receive sexual harassment prevention training and education  
            within a six month period after assuming a new position."





          3)Background.  During the past few years, California has  
            witnessed a number of high-profile cases in which elected  
            local government officials were accused and/or found guilty of  
            sexually harassing their staff or other employees.  Most  
            visible among them was the City of San Diego's scandal with  
            its former mayor.  A major issue in that case involved a  
            dispute between the City and the former mayor over who was  
            responsible for the mayor's sexual harassment training, which  
            he didn't complete until after sexual harassment allegations  








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            were made public and after the required 6-month timeframe for  
            training had elapsed.  



            The mayor's attorney argued that the City was responsible for  
            defending the mayor in his legal battles, because the City  
            failed to provide training to the mayor within the required  
            6-month timeline.  The City contended that the mayor  
            repeatedly refused to complete the on-line training course.   
            The City of San Diego eventually settled several lawsuits  
            against its former mayor, reporting in February that it  
            expected total payouts when all suits were settled to reach $1  
            million.  





            There have been additional news reports and op-eds on this  
            issue in other parts of the state, including West Hollywood  
            and Sacramento.  At issue is whether elected officials are  
            considered "supervisory employees" and, as such, subject to  
            current law that requires employers to provide sexual  
            harassment training to employees who are supervisors.  Some  
            jurisdictions have interpreted the law to include elected  
            officials among supervisory employees, while others have not.





            This bill is modeled after current law governing ethics  
            training for local agency officials, in an attempt to clarify  
            that local agency officials are, indeed, required to complete  
            training and education in sexual harassment.











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          4)Suggested Amendments.  The Committee may wish to consider the  
            following amendments:



             a)   Prevent Duplicative Training.  Current law governing  
               ethics training for local agency officials contains a  
               provision to account for local agency officials who serve  
               on more than one board.  This provision states, "A local  
               agency official who serves more than one local agency shall  
               satisfy the requirements of this article once every two  
               years without regard to the number of local agencies with  
               which he or she serves."  The Committee may wish to  
               consider adding such a provision to this bill.



             b)   Ensure Sufficiency of Course Content.  Existing law  
               requiring ethics training for local agency officials  
               contains a provision that states, "If any entity develops  
               curricula to satisfy the requirements of this section, then  
               the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Attorney  
               General shall be consulted regarding the sufficiency and  
               accuracy of any proposed course content.  When reviewing  
               any proposed course content the Fair Political Practices  
               Commission and the Attorney General shall not preclude an  
               entity from also including local ethics policies in the  
               curricula."  The Committee may wish to include a similar  
               provision in this bill.



             c)   Prevent Conflict With Existing Law.  Current law  
               requires specified sexual harassment training for  
               supervisory employees that is not identical to the  
               provisions of this bill that apply to local agency  
               employees.  The Committee may wish to consider amending  








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               this bill to clarify that its provisions do not supersede  
               existing law governing sexual harassment training for  
               supervisory employees.
             


             d)   Technical Amendment.  The bill's definition of "local  
               agency official" should be amended to refer to "legislative  
               body" instead of "governing body" to maintain consistency  
               with ethics training requirements.



          5)Previous Legislation.  AB 2053 (Gonzalez), Chapter 306,  
            Statutes of 2014, expanded on existing law related to sexual  
            harassment training for supervisory employees to also include  
            training on the prevention of abusive conduct.



            SB 1087 (Monning), Chapter 750, Statutes of 2014, prohibited a  
            farm labor contractor (FLC) who engages in sexual harassment  
            from being issued an FLC's license or renewing the license, as  
            specified.





            AB 1234 (Salinas), Chapter 700, Statutes of 2005, established  
            provisions for ethics training for local government officials  
            and designated employees.  





            AB 1825 (Reyes), Chapter 933, Statutes of 2004, required  
            employers who have 50 or more employees to provide sexual  








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            harassment training and education to all supervisory  
            employees.





          6)Arguments in Support.  The Sacramento Collective for Women's  
            Rights, in support, writes, "Sexual harassment in the  
            workplace continues to be a prevalent issue in the United  
            States.  Men and women alike can experience sexual harassment  
            in the workplace; therefore, they should be able to recognize,  
            resist and report it when it happens?AB 1661?aims to create a  
            universal mandate for all city and county elected officials to  
            complete such training.  It is time for a universal law that  
            specifically requires city and county elected officials to  
            take this training so that it eliminates any confusion as to  
            what trainings and courses they must take."
            The CSAC Excess Insurance Authority, also in support, adds,  
            "As public entity members, we are often drawn into lengthy and  
            costly employment-related lawsuits where claims of sexual  
            harassment are brought forth.  Oftentimes, we see that the  
            lawsuits are directed at supervisory staff either for their  
            direct actions or their inaction in addressing the alleged  
            harassment?however, we also see that other employees who are  
            aware of?potential harassment fail to bring the issue to  
            light.  We believe that expanding the existing law?will  
            provide for greater education and awareness across all levels  
            of employment in local government."





          7)Arguments in Opposition.  None on file.



          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:








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          Support


          Equal Rights Advocates [SPONSOR]


          Association of California Water Agencies


          California Association of Recreation and Park Districts


          California Fire Chiefs Association


          California Women's Law Center


          CSAC Excess Insurance Authority


          Fire Districts Association of California


          Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association


          Organization of SMUD Employees


          Sacramento Collective for Women's Rights


          San Diego County Court Employees Association









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          San Luis Obispo County Employees Association




          Opposition


          None on file




          Analysis Prepared by:Angela Mapp / L. GOV. / (916) 319-3958