In the interest of employee rights and concerns, California Governor Jerry Brown signed significant and positive employee-friendly legislation that took effect January 1, 2019. The bills Governor Brown signed cover sexual harassment, mandatory supervisor and employee sexual harassment training, gender quotas for publicly traded corporations, limitations on criminal history inquiries, lactation accommodations, expanded paid family leave, rights to employer provided copies of pay records, sex trafficking identification training for transit, hotel and motel workers, and more. The new laws cover additional requirements beyond what’s included in this article. For more detailed information about the new laws, refer to Human Trafficking Training for Transit and Hotel/Motel Employees Senate Bill 2034 will require transit employers and hotel and motel operators to provide 20 minutes of training to educate their employees who are likely to interact or come into contact with victims of human trafficking including child victims. The employee categories who will be required to receive the training will include employees who work with the public in transit companies, in hotel/motel reception areas as well as housekeepers, luggage or possessions transporters or drivers who take guests to and from airports or rental car agencies. After the initial training, covered employees must receive the training every two years.
Criminal History Application Questions The new Senate Bill 1412 amends the existing SB218 of 2013 by further limiting an employer’s right to ask job applicants questions about criminal history. Though an employer currently is prohibited from asking a job applicant about arrests that didn’t result in a conviction (with certain exceptions), referrals to pre-trial or post-trial rehabilitation facilities or other diversion programs, or sealed, dismissed, expunged or statutorily eradicated convictions are also protected under the new law. Under the SB1412 amendment, an employer will only be allowed to ask questions that would prohibit hiring an individual with what the law identifies as a “particular conviction.” The definition under the law of a particular conviction is when criminal conduct or categories of criminal offenses prescribed by federal laws and regulations or state law that contain exclusions and/or requirements based on those specifics including those that have been expunged, sealed, statutorily eradicated, or judicially dismissed. For example, a child daycare employer may ask an applicant if they’ve ever been charged with or convicted of any crimes related to child abuse or neglect. But an employer who has nothing to do with children in a business capacity, may not inquire about that type of criminal history.
Employer Obligation to Provide Copies of Payroll Records Upon Request by Employee The current law regarding current and former employee access to their pay records gives them the right to inspect or copy their own records. The Senate Bill 1252 amendment under California Labor Code not only gives an employee the right to inspect or copy their pay records but adds that employers must provide copies of pay records to the employee. The amendment’s simple change is that an employee is not required to make copies of pay records, but by law, the employer is required to provide copies if asked within a prescribed time period. If the employer insists, it is still lawful for the employer to charge the employee for the cost of copying.
Quotas for Female Directors of Publicly Held Corporations Senate Bill 826 will require publicly-held corporations to appoint females to their boards of directors. The number of female directors required to be appointed will depend upon the size of the board. The law will apply to companies regardless of the state in which they’re incorporated as long as their principal executive offices are in California according to the corporation’s SEC 10-K form. Under SB826, the law defines a female as an individual who self-identifies her gender as a woman regardless of the individual’s birth gender. Any company that fails to comply with SB826 will be fined $100,000 for a first violation and $300,000 for additional violations.
Paid Family Leave Expansion The paid family leave program under Senate Bill 1123 adds to the California Employment Development Department (EDD) that provides wage replacement benefits for workers who require time off to bond with a minor child within one year of birth or placement or to care for a seriously ill family member. In addition to those benefits, another leave category for state wage replacement benefits beginning January 1, 2021, is for the EDD to pay benefits for time off “to participate in a qualifying exigency related to covered active duty or call to covered active duty of the individual’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.
Lactation Accommodations for Breastfeeding Employees Under Assembly Bill 1976, an employer will be required to provide private rooms other than a bathroom to express breast milk. If an employer is unable to provide a permanent lactation room because of operational, financial, or space limitations, providing a temporary lactation room is allowed, but it must be private, free from intrusion, and not used for other purposes when milk expressing is occurring.
Sexual Harassment Protections Under current sexual harassment law, employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors every two years or within six months of an employee becoming a supervisor. Senate Bill 1343 amended the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to require employers with five or more employees to provide the same training as employers with 50 or more employees. In addition, SB1343 will require employers to provide at least one-hour of training to nonsupervisory employees within six months of being hired and every two years thereafter.
The legal protections for employees are complex and may be challenging to understand. If you have questions about the new employee legislation or feel your rights as an employee have been violated under current laws, you may need the assistance of an employment civil rights attorney.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act and Title VII law make discrimination against individuals in protected categories (sex, race, color, national origin, and religion) unlawful. Additionally, California’s Fair Employment & Housing Act prohibits discrimination because of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status of any person. These laws allow a prevailing employee to recover Attorneys’ Fees and we handle cases on a contingency fee basis.
If you believe your employer has discriminated against you or is not following the established laws, and there is evidence to prove it, Los Angeles attorney James DeSimone can help. With over three decades representing hundreds of hard-working people whose employment and civil rights have been violated, he has the experience, knowledge, and resources to fight the unfair, unconstitutional treatment to which you may have been subjected.
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