Victories for Working Women: Assembly Passes Gonzalez’s #MeToo and Paid Leave Bills

Thursday, May 23, 2019

SACRAMENTO – (Thurs., May 23, 2019) – A package of legislation championed by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to provide a basic level of support for working women passed the State Assembly this week. The package that now heads to the State Senate includes bills to prevent sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace and to make paid family leave within reach of more women.   

“The workplace remains an unfair playing field for women in California,” said Assemblywoman Gonzalez, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace. “Forced arbitration agreements and the threat of retaliation have allowed toxic workplaces to thrive. Meanwhile, working women are unable to access paid leave when they decide to start a family. We as lawmakers can do more.”

Gonzalez’s legislative package for working women includes Assembly Bill 51 to end forced arbitration as a condition of employment, Assembly Bill 171 to prevent workplace retaliation, Assembly Bill 500 to provide paid leave for K-14 school employees and Assembly Bill 196, which makes paid family leave accessible for the working class.

Some of the strongest worker protections in the country have been passed by the California Legislature, but these laws cannot be enforced because employers can force workers to sign away their rights in an arbitration agreement. AB 51 requires that employees are able to choose whether to sign such agreements without the threat of job loss or other retaliation.

In the case that an employee faces unfair treatment or is fired following harassment, AB 171 would establish a rebuttable presumption of unlawful retaliation if an employer in any way discriminates against the employee within the 90-day period after the complaint is filed.

AB 500 requires school districts, charter schools and community colleges to provide certificated, academic and classified employees at least six weeks of fully paid leave due to pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth and recovery. AB 196 will give working families the financial security they deserve during moments in life when they need it most by ensuring paid family leave is accessible for all workers by guaranteeing 100 percent wage replacement.

For questions on these bills or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, please contact Sami Gallegos (209) 658-7617.