Long-awaited whistleblower protections for legislative employees that report sexual harassment and other wrongdoing finally became law on February 5, 2018 after the governor signed AB 403.
This victory was made possible by Republican Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), who authored AB 403 and fought for four years to get the bill passed.
All 13 members of the Senate Republican Caucus signed on as co-authors and voted to pass to AB 403. Senate Republican statements after AB 403 passed the Senate can be found here.
Background on AB 403
Legislative employees did not enjoy the whistleblower protections that state workers received under the California Whistleblower Protection Act.
Fortunately, the Legislature passed AB 403, which provides a layer of security for those who want to come forward to report misconduct but are afraid to.
After four years of being buried without explanation in the Senate Appropriations Committee, AB 403 finally made it to the Senate floor where it passed unanimously. The Act then returned to the Assembly for a final vote, went to the governor for his signature and became law as soon as the ink was dry.
Senate Republicans believe all Californians, including legislative employees, deserve a safe workplace where inappropriate behavior and retaliation for reporting it is not tolerated.
How does the Act protect legislative employees?
It extends to them the same whistleblower protections that state employees already had under the California Whistleblower Protection Act.
It closes the loophole that specifically exempted legislative employees from whistleblower protections.
It prohibits retaliation against legislative employees who report misconduct, establishing civil and criminal liability for those who violate the Act.
It establishes penalties for intentional retaliation against a legislative employee who reports misconduct of up to a $10,000 fine and one year in jail.