Sen. Toni Atkins at a press conference. Courtesy of her office

State Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, Friday announced the state legislature’s creation of an independent workplace conduct unit and review panel, the first of its kind in the country.

Atkins and Rendon, the Senate president and Assembly speaker, respectively, jointly announced the conduct unit’s creation with state Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

Five employment law experts already have been appointed to the conduct unit, the three said in their announcement.

“Our goals are clear: we need to protect victims and witnesses, hold perpetrators accountable, and restore employee and public confidence,” Atkins said. “Make no mistake — I realize we cannot be satisfied with our progress because this step alone will not change the culture of this building.”

The conduct unit and review panel will operate collaboratively under the state legislative counsel’s office. The conduct unit will receive and filter reports alleging improper workplace conduct in the legislature and collect and summarize evidence for the panel, which will review the allegations and subsequently make disciplinary recommendations to the relevant chamber.

“The appointments of the panelists is another step in the right direction to ensure that the capitol is a safe place for everyone,” said Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel.

“The legislature cannot change the past, but we must create a better environment where victims are protected, offenders are held accountable, and mutual respect prevails throughout the capitol and beyond.”

The conduct unit and review panel will both begin collecting and reviewing cases Feb. 1.

— City News Service

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