Bill Aims To Combat Sexual Harassment In The Tech Workforce

By Tyler Hersko
Ventura County Star, Calif.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) While there are laws on the books which establish liability for sexual harassment in a variety of professions ranging from attorneys, social workers to doctor-patient relationships, there is no law specifically prohibiting sexual harassment in investor-entrepreneur relationships. That soon many change.

Ventura County Star, Calif.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson introduced legislation recently that intends to curtail ongoing harassment women face in the technology industry.

The legislation, which would amend the Unruh Civil Rights Act, would specifically prohibit sexual harassment in the venture capital industry and aims to provide clear legal protection to women in investor-entrepreneur relationships.

Though existing law, such as the Unruh Civil Rights Act, establishes liability for sexual harassment in a variety of professions ranging from attorneys, social workers, real estate agents, and doctor-patient relationships, there was no law specifically prohibiting sexual harassment in investor-entrepreneur relationships, according to Jackson, D-Santa Barbara.

Jackson was inspired to create the legislation after noticing an increased number of news reports about sexual harassment in the technology industry, particularly in Silicon Valley. She noted that the technology industry is rapidly expanding and receives significant attention from venture capitalists, which made the lack of legal protection especially troublesome.

“We are seeing now a number of articles in the media of women who are coming forward to say that they were sexually harassed, propositioned or threatened,” Jackson said. “We heard from a woman who was threatened by an investor, who then went to his board and tried to get her fired. This is degrading, embarrassing and humiliating to the industry, these big companies and certainly the women that have been victimized (but) by calling out this behavior we are starting to see companies reject that behavior and this bill will put some teeth into that process.”

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