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The player’s agent claimed on Saturday that he had looked for a move to Serie A, and that version of events has now been reinforced

Cristiano Ronaldo sought out a move to Juventus while the Serie A club was in talks with fellow Jorge Mendes client, Joao Cancelo, according to The Old Lady’s sporting director Fabio Paratici.

Ronaldo moved to Juve in the close season for a fee of €112 million (£100.7m/$127.5m), ending a nine-year stint at Real Madrid, and his agent Mendes said on Saturday that the move was the forward’s idea.

And Paratici has now backed up that version of events, despite previous claims that Ronaldo had been forced out of Madrid after failing to agree a new contract at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

“When we met with Mendes to discuss Cancelo, that is where the whole thing began,” Paratici told Sky Sport Italia.

“Mendes said to me: ‘You won’t believe this, but Cristiano wants to come to Juve.’

“I replied that I believed it, but it seemed difficult to make everything come together and work.”

Ronaldo has hit his stride in Turin, and has scored 12 times in all competitions to help Juve move clear at the top of Serie A and progress in the Champions League.

But Paratici added that bringing in the Portugal star never seemed a likely option.

“The greatest players help kids to dream. My son wanted Cristiano Ronaldo’s jersey, so when I went to see a Portugal game, I bought it and he wore it all the time.

“Every year he’d ask me: ‘Daddy, why don’t we buy Cristiano Ronaldo?’ Because it’s impossible.

“Then when it happened, he said: ‘Daddy, you told me it was impossible!’ I had no answer.”

Juve secured a 1-0 victory over Roma on Saturday, ensuring Massimiliano Allegri’s side have an eight-point lead over second-placed Napoli and have now won 16 of their 17 league fixtures this term, only dropping points in a 1-1 draw with Genoa.

They face Atalanta next on Boxing Day as they look to continue their dominance in Serie A and prepare for a tie with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16.

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The Liverpool striker will reportedly stay at Anfield due to concerns over his fitness despite appearing to be Eagles-bound

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed a move for Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke is off following reports suggesting the deal has collapsed.

Chairman Steve Parish said the Eagles were keen on the 21-year-old over the weekend, with Huddersfield Town, Brighton and Hove Albion, Fulham and Rangers also interested.

But with the England international destined for Selhurst Park, Palace have pulled out of the deal due to Solanke suffering from a muscle problem.

The former Chelsea youngster has not played a single minute for Liverpool this season and Hodgson says the club have opted against taking a risk on the forward.

“Unfortunately it is a club decision,” he told the media after the 2-0 win over Wolves.

“It turns out there were complications and the club decided it wasn’t the right moment to do it.

“He had made his mind up in our favour, but it didn’t work out. But you accept these things as a manager.”

The ex-England boss added to BBC Sport: “The club has taken the decision to move on and we will work with what we have.”

Hodgson was speaking after Palace pulled six points clear of the relegation zone with late win at Molineux over Wolves.

Jordan Ayew, who was said to be under pressure in anticipation of Solanke’s arrival, scored his first of the season before Luka Milivojevic completed the win via a stoppage time penalty.

On Ghana international Ayew’s first top flight goal since last April, Hodgson added: “When you are a forward you do need goals, and he has had to wait for that.

“If anyone deserved that goal tonight, it was him. He worked hard and defended well.

“We have modified our line up at times, but we have that flexibility to play with one, two or three up front.

“Occasionally, he gets sacrificed in those moments, but it was good to bring him back in tonight.”

Palace return to the pitch on Saturday for an FA Cup clash against Grimsby Town and will be back in Premier League action against Watford on January 12. 

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The Reds’ previous campaigns to win the title have ultimately ended in tears, but could this year be different?

Liverpool have emerged as an early-season favourite to lift the Premier League title following an extended winning run that lasted into the New Year as rivals Manchester City succumbed to three defeats in five fixtures in December.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have been title favourites before on a number of occasions, though they have never had their season end in the fairy-tale glory of ultimately being crowned Premier League champions.

Goal takes a look at Liverpool’s history in the Premier League, when they last lifted the league and what happened during their last title-challenging campaigns.



Liverpool’s most successful finish in the Premier League has been in second, with the Reds last coming as runners-up in the 2013-14 season under Brendan Rodgers as they finished just two points behind eventual champions Manchester City.

The Anfield side launched an unprecedented title challenge that season in a campaign that saw them score a blistering 101 goals and only lose six times – the same numebr as Man City – but were ultimately undone by their leaky defence (having conceded 50 goals in total compared to Man City’s 37, Chelsea’s 27 and Arsenal’s 41) as well as losing to a Jose Mourinho-led Chelsea both home and away.

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It was a season that saw Luis Suarez emerge as one of the world’s – if not the world’s – greatest strikers as he finished the year as the Premier League top-scorer with 31 goals, though left for Barcelona later that summer.

It was also, however, the last opportunity for Steven Gerrard to lift a Premier League title as a Liverpool player after the ex-Reds captain moved to MLS side LA Galaxy the following season.

Prior to the 2013-14 season, Liverpool also came deliriously close to lifting the Premier League title under Rafael Benitez in 2008-09.

Also featuring a standout performance by Gerrard alongside key players in Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres, Liverpool finished four points behind rivals Manchester United despite beating them (who were managed by Sir Alex Ferguson at the time) both on home turf and at Old Trafford.

The Achilles’ heel for the Reds that season came in one too many draws and stalemates (11) despite losing just twice – and scoring more goals than any other team (77).

Liverpool have pointedly tended to self-combust having mounted a title challenge, finishing in seventh place the season after they finished as runners-up in 2008-09 (which led to Benitez being sacked) and then a sixth-placed finish in 2015, with Rodgers moved on a few months later.



The last time Liverpool won the league was at the end of the 1989-90 season, when they clinched their 18th title under Kenny Dalglish when the English top-flight was known as Division One.

The Reds have notably never won the Premier League title, with the Premiership that we know now formed in 1992 after the top 22 clubs split away from the Football League.

They have won the top-flight title 18 times, a record that was surpassed by rivals Manchester United in the 2010-11 season when the Red Devils clinched their 19th Premier League title.

Eleven of their top-flight wins came during their illustrious period of the 1970s and 1980s led by legendary managers Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly, who also guided the Merseysiders to seven trophies in Europe.



Whether or not Liverpool are the most successful side in English history is still something of a topic of a debate, particularly when concerning Manchester United supporters.

The Red Devils have claimed more league wins (20) to Liverpool (18), though the Reds are the only English team to have won the Champions League on five occasions, with their last victory arriving in 2005 against AC Milan in Istanbul. Man Utd, comparatively, have won the Champions League three times.

The Mancunians have lifted the FA Cup 12 times to Liverpool’s seven, though the Anfield side have won the League Cup a record eight times.

What the hell is up with goal-shy Gabriel Jesus?

October 12, 2019 | News | No Comments

The Brazilian forward has struggled this term to replicate the fine form he showed for Manchester City in his first two seasons at the club

Jesus may have walked on water, but around the Etihad Stadium during this current season you are more likely to find him sitting on the bench. After such a scintillating introduction to English football Gabriel Jesus has come down with a chronic case of the goalscoring blues, which has seen him lose ground in Manchester City’s pecking order.

It is hard to decide which of the two defining scenes of City’s painful 2-0 reverse at the hands of Chelsea the past weekend was more excruciating to witness.

There was Gabriel sitting forlornly on the bench, snubbed by Pep Guardiola even in the absence of Sergio Aguero, as the manager opted to go strikerless at Stamford Bridge rather than put his faith in the Brazilian.

Then, there was the lost boy thrown into a losing cause 47 minutes into the game. Starved of quality possession and unable to make his mark, Jesus mustered just two shots, neither of which posed much danger for Chelsea shot-stopper Kepa.

This latest blank marked the Brazil forward’s 11th consecutive Premier League outing without troubling the scorers, with Huddersfield the only side to let him in so far. Indeed, aside from that wonderful hat-trick in the Champions League to destroy Shakhtar Donetsk, Jesus has been a pale shadow of the player that burst onto the scene with such confidence and verve as a teenager less than two years ago.

Jesus’ biggest obstacle to regular first-team football – just four of his 13 league appearances this term have come from the start, while that Huddersfield outing was the sole occasion on which he has completed the full 90 minutes – remains Sergio Aguero.

With 12 goals in 17 games in 2018-19 the Argentine is once more leading the way as Pep’s favoured sole striker, ably assisted by the likes of Raheem Sterling (nine in 18), David Silva (eight in 19) and Riyad Mahrez (seven in 22), the man preferred to Jesus in Aguero’s absence.

What is certain is that Jesus’ commitment has not dipped. The 21-year-old continues to run his heart out in every opportunity he receives for City, and his contribution to the team effort should not be overlooked.

But without goals it is hard to see him making a claim for more regular action: his one Premier League goal this season has come from a mammoth 23 shots, while in 2017-18 the youngster averaged just shy of a goal every four attempts. It is clear that he is snatching at chances that he previously converted with ease, with City and also in Brazil colours.

Roberto Firmino and Richarlison are both breathing down his neck for that single centre-forward spot in Tite’s system, while a newly rejuvenated Gabriel Barbosa and, further down the line, teenage sensations Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo could well make their own run for the No. 9 shirt.

In truth one could even chart Jesus’ woes all the way back to the World Cup: handed a starting spot by Tite, he failed to hit the net in Russia as the Selecao bombed out in the last-eight and has subsequently lost ground to Firmino in the team’s plans.

There is one man, however, convinced that the former Palmeiras wonderkid can turn it around. “He just needs to relax,” Guardiola told reporters at the start of December after Jesus drew a blank against Bournemouth. “I love his work ethic. I said to him: the work out on the pitch will sustain him. He helps us a lot. I am delighted.

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“Football is not for one player the reason why he plays bad. Gabriel is a delight. He’s young, the same as the other ones, he will improve because has the desire to improve and that is important. He helped us a lot. A lot.”

Rotten form in front of goal is part and parcel of the life of an elite striker. All forwards go through difficult patches, including Aguero, whose game was revitalised by the arrival of Pep at the Etihad Stadium.

City fans will be hoping that in the long run the ex-Barca boss will have the same effect on their young Brazilian, who has the perfect chance to return to his best in Wednesday’s Champions League dead rubber against Hoffenheim. For now he is making all the right noises in his fleeting first-team chances, but the goals continue to elude him.

The Gunners received a huge boost with the news that six first-teamers have returned to training

Mesut Ozil is one of six first-team players to return to full training ahead of Arsenal’s trip to West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.

Ozil has not featured for the Gunners since their 1-1 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion on Boxing Day, the Germany international subbed at half-time with a knee injury.

After missing Arsenal’s last three matches, Ozil is back in contention to face the Hammers after taking part in Unai Emery’s preparations on Wednesday.

His return is a welcome boost for Emery, who has seen his squad – particularly the defence – plagued by injuries in recent weeks, problems that appear to be easing.

Full-backs Hector Bellerin (calf) and Nacho Monreal (hamstring) are back in contention, while central defenders Dinos Mavropanos (groin) and Shkodran Mustafi (hamstring) have also returned.

Laurent Koscielny – who suffered a back spasm during the warm-up ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup third-round victory over Blackpool – also took part in training to give Emery a plethora of options to choose from.

Meanwhile, Armenia international Henrikh Mkhitaryan is expected to be back in February after a foot injury.

The Gunners are facing back-to-back London derbies, as they will take on Chelsea the weekend after their match against West Ham. 

Arsenal sit in fifth position in the Premier League, three points behind fourth-place Chelsea. 

 

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Fading Reds need finishing touches

October 12, 2019 | News | No Comments

The Reds will only accept a win against the Cheetahs but co-coach Nick Stiles says it can only come from a complete performance.

Queensland arrived back from its two-week South African tour this week, coming off two losses to the Stormers and the Bulls.

Their African clashes threw up almost identical scripts, with the Reds competitive or leading until the final quarter of the match before being blown away for 19 and 20-point losses.

Stiles said a three-quarter game would not be acceptable against the Cheetahs.

“We were shattered with those last 15-20 minutes on both games against the Bulls and the Stormers,” he said.

“We’re playing two of the strongest South African teams you can play, away from home in very hostile territory.

The Queensland bench struggled against the Stormers, especially, who were able to lean on the experience of players like Schalk Burger coming off the pine.

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That’s an area Stiles said would have to be cleaned up on Saturday night.

“( Wallabies coach Michael) Cheika last year was talking about the finishers and the roles they have to play and I know in my group last weekend our bench was disappointed with their performances when they came on,” he said.

“At times in that last crucial 10 minutes we felt those guys had a lack of effort in periods.

“We’ve reviewed that very critically and expect a much better performance this weekend.”

The co-coach, who mentors the forwards mainly, said the Cheetahs wouldn’t be an easy proposition, though they have been relative strugglers through their Super Rugby history.

“If you’re a Queensland rugby fan you might be expecting an easier win for the weekend,” he said.

“If you’re a genuine really diehard fan you’d know what a dangerous side they are, two weeks ago they put nearly 100 points on the Sunwolves, who then last week were able to beat basically Argentina B.

“The lightning speed they’ve got in their backs is something if you turn the ball over too much they will punish you (with).”

The Reds have named an unchanged side for their clash against the Cheetahs, a luxury that they have rarely had in the past two injury-plagued seasons.

Their overall fitness and the recent addition of former Broncos forward Caleb Timu have boosted competition among the side and Stiles said that’s exactly what they need, pointing to Curtis Browning’s as a symptom of that.

Browning stepped into the shoes of injured backrower Jake Schatz against the Stormers in one of the better performances of his career to retain his starting point..

“Anyone who’s been around the Brisbane rugby scene knows there’s been a lot of talk and hope about Curtis Browning from when he was young schoolboy at State High” he said.

“To see him finally put together a performance like that was encouraging for us.

“With Schatzy being injured he had an opportunity through performance to nail down that eight position and be able to show us what he can do week in week out.

“We don’t want one-out good performances we want consistency we want players that are hungry to be the best and Curtis Browning is definitely a very good kid.”

 

WASHINGTON — 

Rep. Nita Lowey, who leads the powerful House Appropriations Committee and is a 31-year veteran of Congress, announced Thursday that she will retire at the end of next year.

The 82-year-old New York Democrat tweeted that it’s been a “deep honor and privilege to serve my community and my country.”

Lowey is a longtime ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), and is one of Capitol Hill’s old-school dealmakers. She combines a grandmotherly demeanor with decades of hands-on experience, especially in the annual foreign aid bill, where Lowey has fought for money to combat AIDS, deliver economic aid to developing nations and been a reliable ally of Israel.

She rose to the top of the committee earlier this year and was thrown into negotiations over ending the government shutdown and the battle with President Trump over money for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

In August, Lowey attracted a primary challenger from the left in Mondaire Jones, who worked at the Justice Department in the Obama administration. A mother of eight who didn’t enter public life until her 50s, Lowey has not had a difficult election in years.

Lowey often stops in Capitol hallways to catch up on news about the families of Capitol Hill maintenance workers and others.

“Frankly to have a job that I love so very much made this a very difficult choice,” Lowey said. “But I just felt it was time.”

Lowey has slowed down physically but has remained very much in charge of the wide-ranging business of the committee.

She has used her perch to advocate for public works spending for new rail tunnels into Manhattan and recovery assistance from Superstorm Sandy. Almost 20 years ago she led a successful fight to deliver contraception coverage to federal workers via their federal health insurance plans.


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WASHINGTON — 

Nearly 600 former Environmental Protection Agency officials have called for an investigation into whether the agency’s leaders abused their authority by threatening punitive action against California.

In a letter to the House committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Energy and Commerce, 593 signatories asked for a probe to determine whether EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s aggressive focus on California officials is rooted in a retaliatory effort to punish the state for not backing President Trump’s political agenda.

“EPA’s credibility depends on its commitment to use its authority to protect public health and our environment in an objective, even-handed manner, rather than as a blunt instrument of political power,” according to the letter, addressed to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). “We urge your committee to determine whether Mr. Wheeler’s letters of Sept. 24 and 26 threatening to withhold grant funds and increase EPA oversight were motivated by improper partisan concerns.”

California Sens. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein on Thursday also called on the EPA’s inspector general to investigate “whether the White House pressured the agency to abuse its law enforcement authority to single out California and the city of San Francisco,” according to a news release. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), in a letter to the agency’s inspector general, also echoed their support for an investigation.

The letter from former EPA officials pointed to a recent instance in which Wheeler accused the state of failing to take required steps under the Clean Air Act, allowing a backlog of more than 130 inactive smog-reduction plans.

Wheeler threatened to cut federal transportation funding to the state as punishment. That decision came after the administration — upset that the California had brokered a secret deal with automakers to improve fuel-efficiency standards — announced it would revoke California’s decades-old waiver that empowered it to set tougher car emissions standards than those required by the federal government.

The battle between California leaders and the Trump administration has grown more tense in recent months, fueled by lawsuits, climate disagreements and an impeachment inquiry, among other issues. In their letter, the former officials questioned why the EPA had boosted its oversight efforts in California despite waves of environmental policy rollbacks since Trump took office in 2016.

“We hope that your investigation will weigh the effect that all of these federal rollbacks in emission standards will have when evaluating Mr. Wheeler’s sudden interest in air quality in the state of California,” according to the letter.

The letter also noted a Sept. 26 warning from Wheeler to California officials, criticizing the state for “failing” to meet federal water quality standards. Those complaints were echoed by Trump during a visit to the state, in which he threatened to punish San Francisco because its storm sewers were littered with used needles and filth from the city’s homeless.

In response, the former EPA officials said the warning was spurred by Trump’s political fury because there were other states with a comparable number of violations in which no action was taken by the EPA.

Former officials noted that Ohio, New York, Iowa, Missouri, Texas and Indiana have had more pollution sources than California in “significant” noncompliance with environmental laws over the last three years.

“Mr. Wheeler’s actions cannot be treated as legitimate uses of EPA’s authority taken for the purpose of advancing environmental protection, especially considering the current administration’s record,” the letter states. “Considering its enthusiasm for deregulation and reluctance to enforce the laws still on the books, President Trump’s threat to wield EPA’s authority against the homeless, the most vulnerable members of our society, is shameless and morally repugnant”

The group that organized the letter, the Environmental Integrity Project, sent a second letter to Wheeler on Thursday regarding the notice directed at the state that it isn’t meeting federal water quality standards. The letter included data tables alleging more than 400 examples of “significant noncompliance.”

“We ask that you give equally close scrutiny to Clean Water Act violations at large municipal or industrial wastewater treatment plants in other states,” according to the letter, which was written by the organization’s director, Eric Schaeffer, and former EPA water official Betsy Southerland.


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Companies must notify California residents of their data privacy rights in plain language and must verify people’s identities before releasing data, state officials proposed Thursday.

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra announced draft regulations that also spell out ways people can ask for their personal information to be deleted from company databases.

The rules are being drafted to implement a landmark state privacy law that takes effect in January. The law allows California residents to learn what information companies hold on them, request deletion and opt out of the sale of their personal information.

Although only California residents can make requests, the law is expected to have a broader effect on how companies manage and sell people’s information online. That’s because companies outside the state must comply if they meet relatively low thresholds.

“Data is today’s gold,” Becerra said at a news conference in San Francisco. ”Everyone is rushing to mine data.”

The law was born out of a desire for people to have more control over their personal information online. It’s a topic that has been top of mind in recent years as high-profile leaks, smarter home artificial intelligence systems and targeted advertisements show just how much companies know about their users and customers.

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Privacy experts and researchers expect California’s law to pave the way for laws from other states and possibly Congress.

California’s privacy law has been a hot-button issue for lobbyists all year, often pitting tech-industry interest groups against privacy rights advocates. But neither side got major traction, and the bill that was finalized last month was largely unchanged from the original version.

The attorney general’s proposed rules say companies must provide at least two ways — in most cases, a toll-free number and an online form — for people to request what specific information the company holds on them. To request deletion, people must first indicate they want their information to be erased, and then confirm the decision in a two-step process.

Companies will need to verify that a person requesting data is actually that person. That can be done by matching information in the request to information the company has collected over time.

Data can be deleted by completely erasing it from company systems, by removing enough information so it can no longer be associated with a named person, or by aggregating it so it’s part of large groups of data.

Companies that serve at least 4 million Californians — which includes all large tech companies and many retailers — would also need to publish an annual report noting the number of requests they get from people to see their own information, delete the information or opt out from sale.

The proposed rules also state that third-party data brokers, which are often the ones selling data for advertising and other purposes, need to make sure people are properly notified that their data is being collected. Those companies, which rarely interact directly with consumers, can do that either by sending out notices or by making contracts with the consumer-facing companies that people use.

The proposed regulations would also make it possible for people to use browser extensions that automatically opt them out of the sale of data on each site they visit.

The law’s original creator, real estate investor Alastair Mactaggart, recently introduced a new ballot proposal to expand on the law. It would create a new state agency to enforce the law.

The proposed rules will now be open to public comment and forums before being finalized.


SACRAMENTO — 

Gov. Gavin Newsom took action Thursday to strengthen California’s workplace protection laws related to sexual harassment, signing bills that were vetoed by his predecessor last year.

The new laws will give victims of sexual harassment more time to file complaints in California and ban forced arbitration as a condition of employment. After former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed several bills inspired by the #MeToo movement in 2018, authors of the legislation took another shot this year with the hope that Newsom might be more sympathetic.

“For many, a job can provide a sense of purpose and belonging — the satisfaction of knowing your labor provides value to the world,” Newsom said. “Everyone should have the ability to feel that pride in what they do, but for too many workers, they aren’t provided the dignity, respect or safety they deserve. These laws will help change that.”

Newsom signed Assembly Bill 9 by Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes (D-Grand Terrace), which will extend the window to file complaints with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing from one to three years for victims of workplace harassment, discrimination and civil rights-related retaliation. California law requires employees to submit complaints to the state before they can file a civil lawsuit. Once an employee receives a right to sue notice from DFEH, they are given an additional year to file the lawsuit.

Proponents of the legislation, which include employment and consumer attorneys, say most people are unaware of the one-year window, which begins at the time the harassment occurred, and the new law will provide them more time to weigh their options. Supporters also argue that the law aligns the time limits to file sexual harassment complaints with filing deadlines for other types of actions.

In his veto message last year, Brown echoed concerns from the California Chamber of Commerce that the bill would drag out the process to resolve issues in the workplace.

“We’re setting a standard,” said Jacquie Serna, legislative counsel for the Consumer Attorneys of California. “We’re setting an example for others who want to make robust labor laws meaningful and accessible to all workers.”

Another new law that had previously failed to clear Brown’s desk last year aims to end forced arbitration, in which employers require workers to waive their right to a trial over any future labor disputes as a condition of employment. Brown rejected a similar proposal, AB 3080 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), in 2018.

Gonzalez, who brought the bill back this year, lauded Newsom’s decision.

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“When both parties choose arbitration freely, it can be a highly effective tool. But it doesn’t work when corporations say you won’t be hired unless you sign away your rights,” Gonzalez said. “This law will protect workers when employers allow discrimination, permit sexual harassment, or engage in wage theft.”

A common employment practice, arbitration agreements can limit the ability of an employee to sue an employer before the sexual harassment occurs. Workers who sign an arbitration agreement can experience difficulty finding an attorney to represent them. In addition, the results of arbitration are typically confidential, which can allow the perpetrator to continue to harass others in the workplace.

The California Chamber of Commerce included the bill on its “job killer” list — legislation that it says will deter business in California and that the organization’s lobbyists aim to block from becoming law. The chamber said the bill is probably preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act and would increase employment litigation and costs for companies.