Field worker sexual harassment bill becomes law

On Sept. 28, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1087 into law. The bill seeks to curb what some people say is an epidemic of sexual harassment and violence among the state’s field workers.

SB 1087 was penned by state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Concord), whose district runs from Santa Clara County to the San Luis Obispo/Santa Barbara County line, in response to a 2013 investigation by Univision, UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program FRONTLINE, and the Center for Investigative Reporting. The investigation revealed that hundreds of female ag workers have allegedly been assaulted and harassed in the fields, with little response from their supervisors or from law enforcement.

“Female farmworkers are among the most vulnerable and invisible of the state’s farmworker population,” Monning said in a Sept. 29 news release. “[SB 1087] will require sexual harassment prevention training for farm labor contractors, supervisors, and employees, and is the first step to help protect these workers from unwanted sexual advances and sexual violence.”

The bill—which also beefs up funding for farm labor contractor enforcement units and enables authorities to take action against sexual predators—will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

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