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Investigation Reveals Shortcomings in State Agencies’ Sexual Harassment Trainings

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

In fall 2017, the We Said Enough campaign aimed to expose the culture of sexual harassment that its members said was pervasive in the California state government. On the heels of the entertainment industry’s Me Too movement, more than 140 women in state politics signed a letter to the Los Angeles Times that detailed their personal experiences with sexual harassment and those of their female colleagues.

A CapRadio report out this week reveals that more than half of the state agencies surveyed last year by the State Personnel Board were not in compliance with legally required sexual harassment training for supervisors.

According to SPB’s Annual Report, 59 percent of the agencies it surveyed did not provide sexual harassment training to all supervisors. That’s up from 25 percent in 2016 and 32 percent in 2017. At four state agencies — the Board of State and Community Corrections, Financial Information Systems for California, the State Public Defender and the Horse Racing Board — none of the supervisors had received sexual harassment training at the time they were surveyed.

Where the responsibility falls to ensure compliance is murky. It’s the job of the Department of Fair Housing and Employment to issue violation orders and fines against employers, however they don’t proactively enforce the law. Instead, state workers can fill out a form if their agency has not provided the training.

State Personnel Board Executive Officer Suzanne Ambrose said agencies that are not up-to-date with supervisor training risk financial liability and can contribute to hostile work environments. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said it expects all agencies to be at or close to full compliance by July.

CapRadio State Government Reporter Scott Rodd joins Insight to discuss the story he broke this week.

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