Our Labor & Employment team has been busy this fall! As loyal readers, your inboxes have been filled with our updates on all the changes to California employment laws. This legislative session ended on October 14th, so we thought it would be helpful to recap the changes you should have on your radars. These new laws will take effect January 1, 2020, unless otherwise noted. Here are some of the highlights, with links to more in-depth information as applicable:
10) Extension of Statute of Limitations for CA Discrimination Claims
AB 9 extends the time a complainant has to file a complaint under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) from one year to three years. While enacted in response to the #MeToo movement, this bill affects all claims of employment discrimination under FEHA, not just harassment claims.
9) Expansion of Race Discrimination to Include Hairstyles
SB 188 changes the definition of “race” in FEHA to include hair texture and protected hairstyles, specifically including “braids, locks and twists.” This prohibition, which is detailed here, may impact policies on dress codes or grooming standards.
8) Prohibition on Mandatory Arbitration Agreements
AB 51 bars employers from requiring arbitration agreements as a condition of employment. It also prohibits retaliation against an employee who refuses to sign an arbitration agreement. My colleagues blogged in greater detail about AB 51 here, including the likelihood that it will be preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.
7) Remedies for Breach of Arbitration Agreements
SB 707 provides both consumers and employees remedies when a drafting party fails to pay arbitration fees and costs in a timely manner. Drafting parties who neglect to pay fees owed within 30 days of the due date may lose the chance to compel arbitration or may be subject to monetary or evidentiary sanctions.
6) Prohibition on “No Rehire” Provisions
AB 749 prohibits parties to an employee settlement agreement from entering into an agreement to restrict the employee’s ability to work. In the vein of non-compete enforceability, employers may no longer add a so-called “no rehire” provision to settlement agreements, unless the employer has made a good faith determination that the employee engaged in sexual harassment or assault. This bar applies to parent, subsidiaries and affiliates of the settling party. Read more from our blog here.
5) Additional Paid Family Leave
SB 83 increases benefits under the state’s paid family leave program (“PFL) from 6 weeks to 8 weeks of subsidized time off, beginning July 1, 2020. It also establishes a task force to review additional increased benefits for 2021.
4) Additional Training Requirements
AB 241 and AB 242 require implicit bias training for physician, nurses, surgeons, lawyers and court staff. Medical staff training requirements would not take effect until 2023, whereas legal training becomes effective in 2022. SB 778 gives employers a reprieve until January 1, 2021 for mandated sexual harassment training of all employees.
3) Detailed Lactation Accommodations
SB 142 mandates detailed lactation accommodations on all California employers. Specifically, a lactation room must not be a bathroom and must contain a surface for breast pump and personal items, a place to sit, as well as electricity, extension and charging cords. The employee must also have access to a refrigerator or cooler and a sink with running water.
2) California Consumer Privacy Act Changes
AB 25 exempts employers from compliance with many of the laws requirements regarding collection of personal data of employees and applicants through 2020. You can find more information about the CCPA here.
1) Restrictions on Use of Independent Contractors
Last, but certainly not least, AB 5 significantly changes which workers or businesses can be classified as independent contractors under the Labor Code and Wage Orders. We have reviewed the changes here, and will continue to update you on changes and issues as they arise in our practice.
As always, our team is here for guidance (or just to commiserate) on these new laws.