SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – California Senate President Pro tem Kevin De Leon said Monday he has hired two legal firms to investigate recent claims by female lawmakers and others of a “pervasive culture of sexual harassment” at the state Capitol.
De Leon, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said The Law Offices of Amy Oppenheimer and CPS HR Consulting will look into sexual harassment and assault claims brought to light last week in a letter signed by more than 140 female lawmakers, staffers and lobbyists working in the statehouse.
“There’s always more employers can do to protect their employees,” De Leon said in a statement. “Everyone deserves a workplace free of fear, harassment and sexual misbehavior and I applaud the courage of women working in and around the Capitol who are coming forward and making their voices heard.”
De Leon, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat in 2018, added that CPS HR Consulting will review the state Senate’s recordkeeping and give recommendations on how to improve its sexual harassment guidelines.
The 147 women who signed the letter have created a nonprofit group We Said Enough, and announced Monday they are scheduling forums to discuss ways to improve the handling of sexual harassment claims.
Signatories include six current state lawmakers and Christine Pelosi, chair of the Women’s Caucus of the California Democratic Party and daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. The women say they have been groped, subjected to sexual innuendo and had their jobs threatened by men.
Last week, state Sen. Connie Leyva-D-Chino, announced legislation barring secret settlements in sexual assault and harassment lawsuits. She cited the flood of accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as inspiration for her proposal which can be formally introduced in January.
“This bill will ensure that sexual predators can be held accountable for their actions and ideally prevent them from victimizing others,” Leyva said of the legislation.
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