According to National Public Radio, a proposed bill would impose sanctions on labor contractors connected to employees who are sexually harassed on California farms.
The news outlet reported that SB1087 focuses on farm labor contractors that hire workers for jobs like picking strawberries or packing lettuce for growers—it would give the state labor commissioner the right to revoke a farm labor contractors’ license if it hired crew supervisors who were known to sexually harass workers.
“Most good employers do want to play by the rules, because they know that if they break the rules, it’s going to cost them money,” state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) told NPR. “I think we can create a greater framework of integrity in the fields, translating into greater protection, particularly for female workers.”
Monning told that news outlet that he introduced the bill after an in-depth investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley and The California Report, revealed farm worker sexual harassment and assault in California.
Maricruz Ladino, a farm worker interviewed by NPR, said that supervisors are not trained about sexual harassment. He said that often workers are asked to sign a paper saying they have been properly trained, even when they have not been. NPR described this as “tailgate training”.
SB1087 would require training on how to prevent sexual harassment not only for supervisors, but also for all farm employees. Some California farm groups are supportive of the bill, while others said there is no way employers could pull up past information about an employees’ dealings in sexual harassment.
“We don’t know of a database that you can go and consult to find out if someone had committed sexual harassment in the past,” said Bryan Little, who directs labor affairs for the California Farm Bureau, according to NPR. “There’s really no practical way that we know of for that farm labor contractor to learn that information.”
Monning told NPR that he planned to address concerns about the bill through an amendment that would require perspective hires to fill out a disclosure form indicating whether they have had past sexual assault convictions or sexual harassment judgments against them.
The bill was passed by the state Senate on May 29. It still needs to pass through assembly and be signed into law by the governor.
What Should I Do If I Am Sexually Harassed at Work?
Federal law protects all employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. When an employee reports that he or she is being sexually harassed, the employer has a duty to properly investigate the complaint and take appropriate corrective actions.
It should be noted that employers cannot retaliate against employees for reporting harassment, including unjustly firing, demoting or withholding pay or benefits from an employee.
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob– Los Angeles employment attorneys
Did You Know? Unwanted solicitations are a form of sexual harassment.