By now you have no doubt heard about SB 1300 changes to harassment related circumstances that will be in effect January 1, 2019, and are anticipating the potential impact(s) to your agency.
What is SB 1300?
SB 1300 pertains to judicial considerations in harassment based litigation cases. Basically, it will be much easier for plaintiffs to file claims (so there will be more claims) and much more difficult for defendant agencies to have claims dismissed at summary judgement.
SB 1300 codifies:
(For those of you who have had our training you’ll recognize we’ve been addressing these issues all along!)
- “Single Incident Sufficient” This language separates California courts from the federal standard of “severe of pervasive” behavior.
- “Stray remarks” are relevant to the totality of circumstances while establishing discrimination, regardless if the remarks were uttered by a decision maker.
- “Industry Standards” are irrelevant. Prior to it being written in law, courts were allowed to gauge the impact of a “general industry culture” to determine discriminatory intent.
- “Declined Tangible Productivity” is unnecessary. Before SB 1300, some courts would require a plaintiff to prove productivity has declined as a result of harassment. Now, the plaintiff only need prove that a “reasonable person” subjected to the conduct would find that it more difficult to do their job.
- “Employer’s Knowledge of Activity” Currently, an employer can be held liable for sexual harassment that they knew about, or reasonably should have known about. AB 1300 expands this to all other forms of harassment.
How does this impact you and your agency?
Now, more than ever, it is essential that you consider ant-harassment/discrimination training that was designed to acknowledge and respond to the incredibly unique living/working environments that are our fire stations. Training that will help eliminate the law suit, or at least minimize the impact because any amount of scrutiny will show your employees and supervisors are well trained and quickly respond to any sort of behaviors outside your expectations of a professional work environment.