State Senate Approves Bill Requiring CSU, Community College Job Candidates to Reveal Sexual Harassment Past
“My bill, SB 1439, puts a wrench in the ‘pass the harasser’ cycle that protects predators in our state higher education systems,” said Sen. Marty Block, the measure’s author. “Pass the harasser is a pattern of bad actors leaving a university to seek employment elsewhere when their actions gain notoriety. These harassers get away with it because they don’t tell; hiring committees don’t know and then do hire. Under SB 1439, applications for academic or administrative positions would require that applicants reveal any final findings that they committed sexual harassment.”
Block said his bill may be the first of its kind in the country. “When my staff and I were researching policy for this bill, we could not find a similar statute in any other state, even though it makes complete sense for hiring committees to know about this kind of history,” he said.
A final administrative decision is defined in Block’s measure as a determination based on the investigative findings of a designated investigator at a college or university on a sexual harassment complaint. A final judicial decision is a court determination of a matter submitted to it and that is recorded in a judgment or order.
Block said the state Education Code does not require disclosure or consideration of sexual harassment misconduct when considering the hiring of faculty. “It’s too easy for bad actors to move from one institution to another without their past being revealed – until it’s too late,” Block stated.
He noted that sexual harassment is painful to victims, creates havoc in the workplace and can even turn a student away from a field of study as a means to avoid the abuser. Block added that it is also costly for the state colleges or universities to defend against harassment.
SB 1439 was approved on a 31-1 bipartisan vote. It is supported by the United Auto Workers (UAW) which represents 9,000 academic student employees at the CSU system. The bill now moves to the Assembly for consideration.