Every year, California initiates new laws in the employment arena that impact employers and employees. As employers, we are held to the standards set forth in the law, not just in our practice to date. So be sure you review this overview and contact our office or your own attorney with your questions. This post is intended to create awareness and instigate inquiry for your benefit and is not an exhaustive list of new laws.
SB 820 prohibits broad confidentiality provisions in any sexual harassment settlement agreements or for any sex-based claims entered into on or before January 1, 2019. This means the standard release documents you have used in the past should be reviewed with counsel.
AB2770 provides that employees who report sexual harassment, based on credible evidence and without malice won’t be liable for injury to the alleged harasser’s reputation such as in a slander type lawsuit. Of course, retaliation protection remains strong, but this raises the standard for when a falsely accused manager or co-worker can be vindicated for reports that later are determined to be without merit. Stronger protections surround communications between the employer and victims or witnesses. Moreover, this new law permits an employer to reveal in a job reference response whether an individual is eligible for rehire because the employer determined that he/she engaged in sexual harassment. Use this authorization with great caution. Contact your attorney if this situation arises.
MILITARY FAMILIES PAID FAMILY LEAVE BENEFITS ARE ENHANCED
SB1123 relates to the Paid Family Leave Benefits for military families. Employees may collect paid family leave beginning January 1, 2021, when they take time off for activities related to the covered active duty status of their spouse, registered domestic partner, child or parent who is a member of the US Armed Forces. “Qualifying exigencies” include official military ceremonies, briefings, changes to childcare, financial, or legal arrangements as a result of military service, counseling or spending time with the covered servicemember during rest and recuperation leave, et. Federal FMLA provides for up to 12 weeks of protected leave for qualifying exigencies as well.
WAGE DISCLOSURE LAWS ARE AMENDED
AB2282 amends Labor Code Section 423.3, adding language to prohibit an employer from seeking salary history information, including compensation and benefits, from an applicant. The applicant may voluntarily provide said information, without any prompting from the potential employer, and the employer may consider said voluntary information.
Employers in the past have restricted their employees from sharing wage information among themselves. This new law restricts employers from prohibiting employees in disclosing their own wages, asking another’s wages, or discussing wages of others.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT TRAINING IS EXTENDED TO ALL WORKERS
SB1343 requires businesses with five or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training to ALL workers by January 1, 2020, and every two years thereafter.
Currently, California law requires businesses with 50 or more employees to provide supervisory training for sexual harassment prevention.
Our office provides quality interactive sexual harassment training for supervisors and all workers. Watch for our online course option coming soon.
MORE FEMALE BOARD MEMBERS ARE NECESSARY
SB826 requires that publicly traded California companies appoint a certain number of women to their Board of Directors. Each such company must have at least one female on their Board by end of 2019. Boards with five directors will need two, and boards with six directors will need three female members by the end of 2021.