California Governor Signs Bills to Protect Child Actors Against Sexual Harassment

Over the years, Hollywood has become the unfortunate setting for many instances of sexual harassment, often involving minors. Many child actors have come forward, sharing their appalling account of sexual abuse at the hands of producers, directors, and other key players in the film and television industry. California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed three bills into law that will offer protection to child actors in the workplace. This is not the first time Governor Newsom has addressed the plight of child actors. In 2019 he signed a bill that extended the statutes of limitations applicable to the victims of child sexual abuse in the State of California. The new laws, in particular, have been welcomed by child protection advocates from across the country.

Assembly Bill 3175 requires specialized online training

The first bill that was signed by the Governor is Assembly Bill 3175. This bill requires that the child actor, along with a parent or guardian, must complete online sexual harassment training initiated by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The parent or guardian will be required to certify to the Labor Commissioner that the training has, in fact, been completed. The purpose of the bill is to raise awareness about sexual harassment within the industry while also explaining various legal matters such as retaliation in the workplace. A greater awareness of the sexual harassment of minors will result in more criminal cases being opened and more perpetrators being held accountable for their actions. It is important to remember that, once an offense has been reported, the services of a sexual harassment attorney must be obtained to ensure the victim receives the best representation possible.

Assembly Bill 1963 adds a mandatory requirement for human resource employees 

The second bill that was signed, Assembly Bill 1963, alters the state’s current Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act.  It inserts a compulsory requirement for human resource employees at any organization with five or more people employing minors. Under the bill these human resource employees are now required to be fully trained on the identification and reporting of the neglect and abuse of minors. If any child sexual abuse is noticed or suspected, the employee is required by law to report it.  Failure to adhere to this requirement can result in a $1,000 fine and/or time in a country jail. Employers of human resources employees must undergo the same training in the reporting and identification of sexual harassment.

Assembly Bill 3369 amends an existing law

The third bill signed into law by Governor Newsom makes an amendment to a current law: Section 12950.1 of the Government Code. The existing law states that as of 01 January 2021, all employers that have a minimum of 5 employees are required to provide education and interactive training pertaining to sexual harassment to supervisors and regular employees. Assembly Bill 3369 changes the training requirement by exempting any employee who has already undergone the sexual harassment training under AB 3175 within the past two years. As long as an employee is in possession of a work permit issued by the Labor Commissioner that required the employee to undergo the training, no additional training will be required.

Too many child actors have fallen victim to sexual harassment in Hollywood.  Hopefully, the new bills will decrease the prevalence of such harassment considerably.

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