New Legal Developments for California Employers in 2018 Important Changes Starting in 2019
Laws are constantly changing—and employment laws are not the exception. In 2018, the governor of California, Jerry Brown signed many important bills relevant to employment law. The developments established in 2018 will become effective in 2019 and coming years, meaning that employers must be prepared for these new developments.

The laws that were signed by Governor Brown relevant to California employment are discussed below:

  • SB 826 Corporations, Board of Directors: this law is effective January 1, 2019. The law requires that public corporations with offices in California have at least one female on its board of directors by December 31, 2019. The law requires all public corporations to have 2 to 3 females on the board of directors by late 2021. The law also requires that certain information is released to the public annually.
  • SB 820 Settlement Agreements, Confidentiality: this law is effective January 1, 2019. This law voids provisions preventing the disclosure of information surrounding sexual assault, sexual harassment, workplace harassment based on sex, discrimination based on sex, failure to prevent harassment/discrimination based on sex, retaliation for reporting sex harassment/discrimination, and harassment/discrimination based on sex. The law allows victims (claimants) to request confidentiality. The law also allows provisions for the confidentiality of settlement amounts.
  • SB 224 Personal Rights, Civil Liability and Enforcement: this law is effective January 1, 2019. This law makes the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) liable for enforcing sexual harassment claims. The law also makes it illegal to deny, aid, incite, or conspire in denying rights to someone who is being sexually harassed.
  • SB 1300 Unlawful Employment Practices, Discrimination and Harassment: this law is effective January 1, 2019. Under this law, employers are responsible for the actions of nonemployees (applicants, volunteers, unpaid interns, etc.) regarding all types of harassment/discrimination prohibited by FEHA. This law also makes it illegal for employers to require the release of claims/rights under FEHA or to require agreements or documents that deny employees’ right to disclose information regarding unlawful occurrences in the workplace in exchange for a bonus, a raise, or conditional employment.
  • SB 1252 Wages, Records, Inspection and Copying: this law is effective January 1, 2019. It requires employers to allow their employees to receive copies of employment records.
  • AB 3109 Contracts, Waiver of Right of Petition or Free Speech: this law is effective January 1, 2019. This law makes provisions that waive the right to testify in regards to sexual harassments both unenforceable and void.
  • AB 2770 Privileged Communications, Communications By Former Employer, Sexual Harassment: this law is effective January 1, 2019. The law makes the following part of privileged communication by an employee to an employer with credible evidence; communication between an employer and the alleged culprit regarding a sexual harassment complaint; communication by the employer stating that the decision not to rehire is based on sexual harassment complaints against the employee.
  • AB 2610 Meal Periods, Commercial Drivers: this law is effective January 1, 2019. This law makes an exception to employment law requiring employees to take a lunch period after working five hours. The law allows commercial drivers to work through the fifth hour and take the meal period after the sixth hour of work. This exception only applies under the following circumstances—the driver is transporting from a commercial feed manufacturer to a customer in a remote/rural area and the driver’s regular pay rate is no less than 1.5 times the state minimum wage, receiving overtime compensation when applicable.
  • AB 2587 Disability Compensation, Paid Family Leave: this law is effective January 1, 2019. Under current law, employees requesting family leave would have to apply vacation time to the seven-day waiting period. The new law eliminates the requirement to apply vacation time and pay to the seven-day waiting period prior to receiving benefits.
  • AB 2334 Occupational Injuries and Illness, Employer Reporting: this law is effective January 1, 2019. Under current law, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health cannot issue a citation for a violation more than six months after the occurrence. The new law provides that occurrences are continuous until any of the following occur—the violation is corrected, the violation is discovered by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or the policy resulting in violation no longer exists.
  • AB 1976 Lactation Accommodation: this law is effective January 1, 2019. The law states that employers are required to provide (or at least make reasonable efforts to do so) employees with a room or location—other than a restroom—in which the employee can express breast milk. The change from current law requires the accommodation to not be in a restroom, in contrast to “not in a toilet stall”.

What do these new legal developments mean to you? Whether you are an employer or an employee, these new legal developments are important as they might apply to you or your business in particular.

The Duty of Employers

With the influx of new laws and legal developments that apply to California employment, employers have to ensure that they continue to run their businesses within the scope of employment law. If you are an employer, these new employment laws might mean that you will have to make a few changes in your company to remain compliant with any new laws that might be applicable. Your duty is to get the necessary information to make sure that you and your company is ready for the new laws. If your company is not compliant to the new laws, it is possible that you will be in violation. If you are in violation of any laws, there could be legal action taken against you and your company. In some cases, it is employees who pursue legal action against their employers.

The Options for Employees

If your employer is in violation of any new employment laws, you might be able to take action. Depending on the nature of the violation, you could either file a report or pursue an employment claim. If your employer violated a law, you could report it with an employment agency; the employment agency liable for enforcing such laws will then investigate and take action against the employer. If your employer violated a law and infringed your basic employment rights, you might have grounds to pursue a civil lawsuit against your employer; you might also have the right to be compensated.

About California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group

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