The Other Sexual Harassment Problem

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In November, the governor
issued Executive Order No. 2, which requires the review of all pending
regulations, forces state agencies to do their job twice and gives big
companies a reprieve on consumer and environmental protection laws. A
less heralded section of that order — Paragraph 2 — was stealthier,
but may do even more to bring the normal operation of the state to a

Paragraph 2 calls on every state agency to identify "any guideline,
criterion, bulletin, manual, instruction, order, or standard of general
application which has not been adopted as a regulation." All of these
so-called "underground regulations" are demoted to "opinion-only"
status and no longer "carry the force of law."

Until Arnold stepped in, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) had a
"policy to provide a work environment free from all forms of sexually
harassing conduct and/or behavior…[that] Prevents inappropriate conduct
that constitutes sexual harassment…[and] creates strict ‘zero
tolerance’ policy," according to a DCA memo that ArnoldWatch has
obtained. Under Executive Order 2, that policy is no longer legally
binding. Read the memo at:

With sexual harassment prevention on "opinion-only" status, are DCA
employees free to define for themselves what a harassment-free
workplace looks like? What does a sexually harassed DCA employee do
when her assailant claims that, without any guidance, he didn’t know he
was doing anything wrong?

Arnold’s sweeping Executive Order didn’t just toss out sexual
harassment policies. The DCA’s discrimination policy was cited as
another underground regulation. So was the agency’s commitment to
increasing the number of contracts it awards to small businesses and
business enterprises run by disabled veterans.

There are, no doubt, hundreds more of these simple, but important
rules, procedures and systems that Arnold’s Order has unnecessarily
undermined. Whether hamstringing state agencies was pre-meditated or
just a colossal blunder, Arnold should head back to Sacramento and fix
this problem.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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