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San Diego reaches settlement on sexual harassment training

If anything positive has come from the sexual harassment scandal that surrounded former San Diego mayor Bob Filner in 2013, it is that the city now has to report to the state on its sexual harassment training. A settlement between the city and the state mandates that it will submit reports on a semi-annual basis for five years to the state that it has provided all supervisors with “sexual harassment prevention training programs.” The training consists of “at least two hours of online sexual harassment prevention training” for anyone in a supervisory position – whether elected or appointed – beginning no more than six months from the time they begin their job. San Diego’s interim mayor has directed the city’s Human Resources Department to “diligently comply with the settlement agreement and state law.”

Filner defended his actions partly by saying that he had never received training regarding sexual harassment. He has since resigned and pleaded guilty to three criminal charges. He has been sentenced to probation and must remain in his home for three months.

California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a complaint against the city of San Diego for failing to provide the appropriate sexual harassment prevention training to supervisors. Investigative journalists also found that 20 people in the mayor’s office, including the then-mayor himself, took the training only after the scandal became public this summer. This was far past the six-month mandated deadline.

Many people who heard the stories of how the former mayor treated women who worked for him, and even women who encountered him in other situations, were shocked that he was able to get away with such behavior. Often people fear that they will lose their jobs if they complain about such treatment. However, it is essential that anyone who is subjected to sexual harassment on the job report the behavior. If an employer does not take appropriate action to stop it, you can and should seek legal remedies to ensure not only that the harassment against you stops, but that others are less likely to be harassed in the future.

Source: U-T San Diego, “SD agrees to anti-sexual harassment program” Trent Seibert, Dec. 24, 2013

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