California lawmakers OK whistleblower protection for staff

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The California Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a bill granting whistleblower protections to legislative staff members who say they are badly needed to ensure sexual misconduct and other misbehavior can be reported without fear of retaliation.

Posted: Feb 5, 2018 4:32 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The California Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a bill granting whistleblower protections to legislative staff members who say they are badly needed to ensure sexual misconduct and other misbehavior can be reported without fear of retaliation.

It will take effect immediately if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat. The Senate passed it last week after stonewalling a similar measure for four years. Legislative staff members donning black gathered in the Assembly gallery and balcony to watch the debate and planned to rally outside the Capitol to support the bill's passage.

"You're not standing alone," Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia of Bell Gardens told them from the floor.

The measure comes after legislative leaders on Friday released 11 years' worth of documents outlining sexual misconduct investigations and discipline against lawmakers and staff. Those documents revealed complaints against four sitting lawmakers for behavior ranging from unwanted touching to crude conversations about sex and about a half dozen complaints against staff members. Eight allegations of sexual harassment are pending before the Assembly, according to additional documents.

But critics said the documents do not illustrate the full universe of sexual harassment and misconduct at the Capitol because they did not include complaints that were not investigated. They also said legislative staff members and lawmakers say people often do not support harassment or misconduct because they fear retaliation. Legislative employees are at-will employees who are currently not protected by whistleblower protections given to other state employees.

The Legislature's sexual harassment policies prohibit retaliation, but Assembly lawmakers argued whistleblower protections need to be enshrined in law.

"We owe an apology to the staff; they have long deserved this protection," said Republican Assemblywoman Catharine Baker. "They work hard every day to make sure we look good, we do better and we succeed in representing our districts. Every one of us should have their backs - this institution should have had their backs long ago."

The bill by Republican Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez received renewed attention last fall after nearly 150 women in California politics signed an open letter calling sexual harassment pervasive in the Capitol amid a national awakening on the topic. Two Assembly lawmakers have since resigned and a state senator is on suspension amid an investigation.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.)

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3543340

Reported Deaths: 49888
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles118349620069
Riverside2885413695
San Bernardino2850812651
Orange2598573848
San Diego2578053218
Santa Clara1095061747
Kern102137786
Fresno945841397
Sacramento926211446
Alameda797961200
Ventura76947805
San Joaquin662901042
Contra Costa61865653
Stanislaus55487937
Tulare47680731
Monterey42016323
San Mateo38552502
San Francisco33947394
Santa Barbara31630398
Solano29882161
Merced28749393
Sonoma27845295
Imperial26840587
Kings21916218
Placer19661231
San Luis Obispo19500221
Madera15325201
Santa Cruz14516174
Marin13083197
Yolo12689185
Shasta10950172
Butte10855158
El Dorado906995
Napa895068
Sutter881896
San Benito572358
Yuba571936
Lassen559419
Tehama506852
Tuolumne392959
Nevada390974
Mendocino379043
Amador343840
Humboldt313633
Lake310740
Glenn220723
Colusa212513
Calaveras190225
Siskiyou172013
Inyo127835
Mono12084
Del Norte9765
Plumas6516
Modoc4504
Mariposa3937
Trinity3525
Sierra990
Alpine800
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 54°
Oroville
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 57°
Chico
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 54°
Red Bluff
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: 54°
Red Bluff
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 54°
Chico
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 54°
Strong wind continues to blow through the valley this afternoon, and will last through the evening. Thursday will still be a fairly breezy day, but the wind won't be as strong and our temperatures will be warmer. More wind is coming Friday and Saturday.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events