WHAT’S NEW FOR 2019 ENCOURAGING GOOD BEHAVIOR « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


California Expands Sexual Harassment and Violence Legal Protections

A claim for sexual harassment exists under section 51.9 of the Civil Code against someone who is in a “business, service or professional relationship” with the harassment victim. This section enumerates various professions subject to such a claim including attorneys, persons with a master’s degree in social work, realtors, physicians, psychotherapists, dentists, accountants, certain financial industry professionals, building contractors, teachers, and landlords. The section includes a catchall for any “relationship that is substantially similar to any of the above.”

In its current form, the victim would have to show that he or she “cannot easily terminate the relationship” in order to bring such a claim. Effective January 1, 2019, SB 224 amends the statute to remove any requirement that a victim show an inability to terminate the relationship.  In response to the #MeToo movement, the section 51.9 amendment adds directors or producers, investors, lobbyists, and elected officials to the specified list and also includes anyone “who holds himself or herself out as being able to help the [victim] establish a business, service, or professional relationship.”

The legislature and the governor have also approved enhanced protection for victims of sexual assault. AB 1619, which created new Civil Code section 340.16, expands the statute of limitations to bring a civil action for sexual assault on a person over 18 from two years to “10 years from the date of the last act, attempted act, or assault with the intent to commit an act of sexual assault”  or three years from the date the victim discovers or reasonably should discover such an act caused an injury or illness.

For further information, please contact one of our attorneys Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Helena Kobrin

December 7, 2018