California just added the circumstances under which an individual was issued a driver’s license to the list of categories protected by the Fair Employment and Housing Act. What’s that you say? You were unaware of rampant driver’s-license-issuance-circumstance discrimination? Well join the crowd.

Copyright: cursedsenses / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: cursedsenses / 123RF Stock Photo

On September 19, 2014, Governor Brown signed AB 1660. The statute, which takes effect on January 1, 2015, amends the FEHA to say:

“National origin” discrimination includes, but is not limited to, discrimination on the basis of possessing a driver’s license granted under Section 12801.9 of the Vehicle Code.

Pursuant to Section 12801.9, the DMV must issue a license to people who are not in the country legally if they’re otherwise qualified for the license. Those licenses indicate on their face that the holder is allowed to drive, but the license “does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits.” Now it’s a violation of the FEHA for employers to discriminate against employees because they hold such licenses, or even to ask to see the license.

This last requirement comes from language in the bill making it an FEHA violation:

for an employer or other covered entity to require a person to present a driver’s license, unless possessing a driver’s license is required by law or is required by the employer and the employer’s requirement is otherwise permitted
by law.

Using driver’s licenses to confirm eligibility to work upon hiring is presumably still OK, since it’s permitted by federal law. Also, if an employee has to drive as part of the job, checking a driver’s license is obviously appropriate. But beyond that, employers need to review under what circumstances they ask California employees or applicants to show their driver’s licenses.