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Tiffanny Brosnan, partner with Snell & Wilmer.

Breaking in October 2017, the Harvey Weinstein story sparked the #MeToo movement and California’s legislature responded swiftly. In 2018, Governor Brown approved a number of significant pieces of legislation that require action by employers in 2019 and that will change how sexual harassment cases are litigated.

SB 826—Requires female board members for public companies

According to the prelude for Senate Bill 826, “One-fourth of California’s public companies … have NO women on their boards of directors; and for the rest of the companies, women hold only 15.5 percent of the board seats.” Yet, according to studies cited in the prelude, companies with women on their boards have higher average return on equity than companies with no female board members, and companies with women on their boards significantly outperformed others when the recession hit. Relying on statistics and studies such as these, California enacted Senate Bill 826 to require that by the end of 2019, all publicly held corporations whose principle executive offices are in California have at least one woman on their board of directors. That number will increase on a going-forward basis depending on the size of the board.

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