Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher
Photo by Chris Stone

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, reintroduced two bills Tuesday aimed at curtailing workplace sexual harassment, especially that which affects low-wage workers in the private sector.

If passed, Assembly Bill 170 would place joint liability on companies when workers are harassed on the job, while AB 171 would establish a presumption of retaliation if an employee is fired within 90 days after they report an instance of sexual harassment.

“It’s time that the transformative changes driven by the #MeToo movement made a difference in the lives of all women, not just those in Hollywood or the halls of Capitol,” Gonzalez said. “Janitors, hotel and restaurant workers, service workers and immigrants continue to be exploited and harassed at work while their employers deny responsibility.”

According to Gonzalez, three-quarters of low-wage workers are women and are prone to being targeted due to factors such as immigration status and isolated working conditions. A 2011 study cited by the National Women’s Law Center estimated that roughly 60 percent of employees who have experienced workplace harassment, a majority of them women, did not report the incident.

“Workplace protections should extend to all women, no matter their economic standing, access to an attorney or level of existing power,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez introduced the two bills as one piece of legislation, AB 3081, in 2018, according to a representative from her office. The bills are expected to be heard in committee in March.

— City News Service