California legislature passes bans on requiring silence from sexual harassment victims

California legislature passes bans on requiring silence from sexual harassment victims
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California's legislature passed two bills this week that would ban employers from taking a number of steps that activists inspired by the #MeToo movement say help employers hide instances of sexual abuse.

The bills, which have been sent to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) for a signature, would ban secret settlements that require victims to stay quiet about crimes as well as mandatory arbitration clauses and nondisclosure agreements in employment contracts, BuzzFeed News reports.

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The bill focusing on mandatory arbitration is supported by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who was fired by Fox in 2016 after she says she was sexually harassed by then-CEO Roger Ailes.

“I believe that forced arbitration is not only unjust, it is un-American,” Carlson told local media in May. “I hope legislators from both sides of the aisle will get to Gov. Brown’s office and ask him to sign this bill.”

State Sen. Connie Leyva (D), who sponsored the bill regarding settlements that silence victims of sexual abuse, told BuzzFeed that Brown's signature would be a "historic" moment for members of the #MeToo movement and victims of sexual assault and abuse.

"It would be a truly historic win for victims that will no longer have to suffer at the hands of perpetrators that have hidden behind the curtain of secrecy created by these settlements," she said.

The #MeToo movement vaulted into national prominence last year after Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of rape and sexual abuse by women dating back decades throughout his movie career.

Investigators in Los Angeles are currently probing allegations against Weinstein, while the disgraced producer was formally charged with rape, criminal sex acts, sex abuse and sexual misconduct in New York earlier this year.