Employees of the California State Legislature have no viable venue to ensure complaints of sexual harassment are thoroughly investigated; Attorney General Xavier Becerra is absent when it comes to defending the women in California’s capitol.
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – The Office of the Attorney General has one distinct responsibility – to ensure impartiality in the implementation and execution of the laws in our state. Never before has the office of the Attorney General demonstrated such disregard for the duties set forth in the California Constitution. Governor Brown appointed Xavier Becerra to the office of Attorney General and immediately, the entire focus of the office shifted toward Washington.
In our state capitol, the movement “We Said Enough,” organized by women who work with legislators in the capitol, is condemning years of “pervasive sexual misconduct by powerful men” in an open letter released October 16 with more than 140 signatures. Within the next week, more than 300 women had signed the letter. Since then, Becerra’s office has issued over 47 press releases addressing various investigations, lawsuits, and settlements but there has not been a single press release to indicate that his office will work to protect women against predatory sexual harassment in our state capitol.
Judge Steven Bailey supports the passage of Assembly Bill 403, the Legislative Employees Whistleblower Protection Act sponsored by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R) which would protect legislative employees from retaliation when reporting any violation of federal or state laws, including sexual misconduct, by making retaliation a misdemeanor. Currently, victims have to maneuver through a labyrinth of procedural steps designed to intimidate and curtail the exposure of such misbehavior.
Furthermore, the legislative auditor needs to grant special authority to the Attorney General’s office to prosecute violations instead of consulting an outside law firm as Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon have proposed. “It is a travesty that there is no explanation as to why the Attorney General’s office cannot lead in the impartial proceedings to defend the rights of the workers in our own state capitol. These workers would have been protected had the legislators not exempted themselves,” said Judge Bailey.
“The Attorney General needs to launch a task force on the process capitol employees use to report sexual harassment without fear of reprisal. If the current Attorney General refuses to investigate these reports of misconduct and subsequent retaliation, he must explain why the people of California should pay an outside law firm while he is the state’s top lawyer and law enforcement official on our payroll,” stated Judge Steven Bailey.