At the climax of the Me Too movement, governmental leaders in California were unable to answer the most basic questions about the pervasive sexual harassment complaints swirling through state government agencies. The reason is that in 2012, the state shut down its system for tracking harassment and discrimination allegations. (The justification for this involved the implementation of budget cuts and the consolidation of government at the time.)
Many surveying the sexual harassment landscape in California have deep concerns that the 7-year absence of proper tracking of these cases has significantly set back the state’s capacity to keep an eye on and prevent new sexual harassment incidents.
The old system of tracking sexual harassment complaints
For many years, the State Personnel Board in California was required to issue a yearly report to the state legislature that explained harassment and discrimination complaints at agencies. In these reports were details of the complaints themselves, the results, and the length of time involved to reach a conclusion.
But after the state shut down the system in 2012, government leaders testified that they lost the ability to track complaints of sexual harassment and recognize trends in these cases, thereby inhibiting the government’s ability to prevent future harassment issues.
The new proposed system to track sexual harassment complaints
California lacked a way to track complaints in more than 12 dozen departments. As a result, it was unable to discover problems in particular departments or monitor employees who relocated to other departments after a sexual harassment case had been settled. In January 2018, The Sacramento Bee published the results of an investigation that revealed the state paid out over $25 million during a three-year period to settle sexual harassment cases.
The Governor’s budget asked for $1.5 million for the development of a system to begin keeping track of sexual harassment claims across state agencies. The investment would also cover the costs of hiring a contractor and three employees in this effort. CalHR is the department assigned to operate this tool which was to be ready initially by December 2018. However, that timeline was not realistic. It is now expected to be ready for implementation as the beginning of 2020. But training and testing with the system may begin as early as next month.
When the system launches, every department will enter new discrimination complaints, including various types of harassment claims, into the system. All of these harassment complaints from employees at state agencies will be collected, centralized and made accessible to the public.
CalHR will have access to the information entered by the departments concerning these cases, including those under investigation, as well as case updates and outcomes, including settlement amounts paid out to victims. The new system will also assist the state with keeping department directors accountable who do not comply with sexual harassment training compliance mandates.
The problem of sexual harassment seems to be growing in our society. If you have endured one or more incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace, our Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys at Taylor & Ring can help. We can work diligently to fight for your rights with compassion and strength to help you obtain the justice and compensation you deserve. Give us a call today at 310.776.6390 or complete our contact form to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.