Press Release: 03/08/2019
Press Contact: Maria Hernandez
Law inspired by 2017 TIME Person of the Year Progresses to Next Assembly Committee as Eight More Women Report Sexual Harassment or Assault Allegations at Terranea Resort
Sacramento, CA – A law inspired by TIME Magazine's Person of the Year 2017, AB 170, passed out of the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment Wednesday afternoon on a 5-1 vote.
AB 170 is dubbed “Sandra’s Law” after Sandra Pezqueda, a former subcontracted dishwasher at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes who was recognized by TIME Magazine as a “Silence Breaker” on workplace sexual assault.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales Fletcher introduced the bill to hold accountable companies that try to deny responsibility when their subcontracted employees allege sexual harassment at work.
“Workers who experience sexual harassment on the job are afraid to report that abuse because they know the law is not on their side,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “AB 170 will stop employers from dodging their responsibility to ensure a safe work environment, and AB 171 will protect workers from retaliation when they speak out about workplace abuse.”
“Sexual harassment is not an abstract issue to our membership. Nor are the myriad obstacles that stand in the way of workers who wish to stand up for themselves and to hold their employers accountable,” said Ada Briceño, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Our union is proud to offer our strongest support for the passage of Assembly Bill 170, Sandra’s Law.”
Monica Sanchez, a former Terranea dishwasher hired through the same temporary agency as Ms. Pezqueda, testified about her experience of sexual harassment at the resort. “My experiences working at the Terranea were traumatic for me. When I was working there and my supervisor was harassing me, I felt scared and depressed. I felt like I was alone. I hope Sandra’s Law passes to give agency workers like myself a voice and hold companies like Terranea Resort accountable.”
Under California law, companies must already share in civil liability when their labor contractors fail to pay workers’ compensation insurance. AB 170 would extend the principle to sexual harassment.
Sandra Pezqueda worked as a dishwasher at the Terranea Resort in Ranchos Palos Verdes through a staffing agency. She alleged sexual harassment by an agency supervisor and was fired after she reported the harassment. Pezqueda sued the Terranea and the staffing agency and reached a settlement with the agency in May 2018. Terranea has denied responsibility on the basis that Pezqueda was employed by a third-party contractor.
Sandra’s Law was known as AB 3081 last year, when it moved all the way through the legislature until former governor Jerry Brown vetoed it.
The Assembly Committee on Judiciary will hold the next hearings on Sandra’s Law March 19.
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UNITE HERE Local 11 is a labor union that represents over 31,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona. Our members work in hotels, restaurants, universities, convention centers, and airports.