California Bill Targets Sex Misconduct Complaints

California may soon require employers to keep records of sexual misconduct complaints under a bill advanced by the state Assembly on Monday.

The bill by Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes would require employers with at least 50 employees to keep such complaints for at least 10 years.

"We have seen the stories of harassers that have been allowed to bounce around from job to job, sometimes in the same organization, and continue their predatory behavior," said Reyes, a Grand Terrace Democrat. "The retention of complaint records will hold everyone accountable and ensure that repeat offenders are not able to continue victimizing others."

The records could help employers identify serial harassers, supporters argue. They could also be used as evidence in lawsuits and complaints related to sexual misconduct.

Reyes introduced the bill, AB1867, in the wake of nationwide backlash to sexual misconduct known at the "Me Too" movement.

The California Legislature has been roiled with allegations of misconduct by lawmakers and others in the Capitol community. Three lawmakers have resigned and others have faced backlash after allegations against them became public.

The bill would be overly burdensome on businesses because it does not align with other record-keeping regulations and isn't clear, said Laura Curtis, a policy advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber is asking that the requirement be changed from 10 years to the length of a person's employment plus three years, which Curtis said is in line with other for records retention.

"It's just very confusing for these employers," Curtis said. "We were trying to come at it from a more reasonable approach."

The chamber also wants the definition of a complaint to be clarified to apply only to ones that trigger an investigation, Curtis said.

Reyes' bill requires approval by the state Senate and the governor to become law. It would apply to private and public employers, including the Legislature, according to Reyes' office.

Another bill currently waiting for assignment to an Assembly policy committee, SB419, would require the Legislature specifically to keep complaint records for 12 years.

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