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Proposed Employment Laws

I am following up with you all from my article last month about Estate Planning…have you made an appointment with someone yet? Since then, I have had my sister, a close client and my mother in the hospital. Prior to admission, everyone was “healthy”. Everything is fine now, but there were some scary moments. I mention this as a helpful nudge toward making that first step toward planning your estate.

The other side of my law practice is business law, primarily representing small business owners. Employment law is absolutely out of control in California. Full compliance and the elimination of risk is impossible for any company…even those with hundreds of in-house lawyers. A great resource for changes to employment law is HR California, CalChamber. They have a Free Newsletter that notifies you of changes to the law (Fed, State and some local) and they track legislation before it becomes law, which gives us the opportunity to contact our State representatives and express our opinion.  For all of these reasons, I encourage you to sign up!

Here’s what’s on the Governor’s desk with an October 15 deadline to sign or veto:

SB 63 (Jackson) — JOB KILLER

If signed into law, SB 63 would require employers to provide 12 weeks of baby bonding leave to employees in addition to the myriad of other leaves of absence programs California already imposes. This bill targets small employers with as few as 20 employees and applies to those employees who:

  • Worked more than 12 months;
  • Worked at least 1,250 hours of service during the prior 12-month period; and
  • Work at a worksite where there is at least 20 employees within a 75 mile radius.

Combined with other protected leaves, the bill could result in small employers having to provide up to seven months of protected leave for the same employee.

In addition, the bill carries the threat of litigation for employers. SB 63 labels an employer’s failure to provide a requested leave as an “unlawful employment practice.” The employer is subject to a lawsuit should the employee allege that his or her employer:

  • Did not provide the 12 weeks of protected leave;
  • Failed to return the employee to the same or comparable position;
  • Failed to maintain benefits while the employee was out on leave; or
  • Took any adverse employment action against the employee for taking the leave.

AB 1209 (Gonzalez Fletcher)

This bill would require employers with 500 or more employees in California to collect data on the salaries paid to men and women in the same job title or classification and submit the information to the Secretary of State’s office. The state would then post the company’s salary information — with the company name attached — on a publicly accessible website.

AB 168 (Eggman)

AB 168 bans employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s salary history. Employers could be penalized for failing to provide a pay scale upon demand, even though the applicant has not suffered any harm or wage loss due to a violation.

AB 569 (Gonzalez Fletcher) 

AB 569 would prohibit an employer from taking an adverse action against an employee, an employee’s dependent or an employee’s family member based on the employee’s, dependent’s or family member’s use of any drug, device or medical service related to reproductive health.

Existing law already protects an employee and their family member’s medical choices, as well as unlawful discrimination in the workplace. This bill does not quantify what behavior constitutes “conduct” that would be prohibited.

SB 306 (Hertzberg)

SB 306 proposes to allow an employee or the Labor Commissioner to obtain a temporary restraining order prohibiting an employer from terminating an employee based on an allegation of retaliation before completing an investigation. Currently, the Labor Commissioner has the authority to seek any appropriate relief, including injunctive relief, only after it has investigated a claim of retaliation and made a determination that a violation exists. This bill also reduces the burden of proof for the employee making a claim and expands the Labor Commissioner’s authority to investigate an employer for retaliation, even without a complaint from an employee.

AB 450 (Chiu)

This bill establishes the Immigrant Worker Protection Act that shields workers from immigration enforcement while on the job. Under this bill, an employer is prohibited from providing any federal immigration enforcement agent access to a business without a properly executed warrant. The employer is also prohibited from providing the agent voluntary access to the employee’s records without a subpoena. The bill also requires employers to notify all current employees of a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification inspection performed by federal immigration enforcement officials, as well as provide notice of the results of the inspection to each affected employee and authorized representative. Finally, violation of the provisions of the bill carries stiff fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 for a first violation and $5,000 to $10,000 for each subsequent violation.

AB 570 (Gonzalez-Fletcher)

This bill would require California employers to pay injured workers permanent disability indemnity benefits for disabilities, for which there is no medical certainty were caused by a workplace injury or illness.

AB 978 (Limon)

Under this bill, an employee can request a copy of an employer’s Illness and Injury Prevention Program (IIPP). An employer who receives a written request for a paper or electronic copy of the IIPP must comply with the request within 10 business days from receipt.

AB 1008 (McCarty)

This bill would make it an unlawful employment practice under the Fair Employment and Housing Act for any employer with five or more employees to include on any application for employment any question that seeks to determine an applicant’s conviction history, or to inquire or consider the conviction history of an applicant, until an applicant has received a conditional offer of employment.  Should an applicant be denied a position based on the applicant’s conviction history, the employer would be required to make an individualized assessment of whether the applicant’s conviction history has a direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job justifying denying an applicant a position.

SB 396 (Lara)

Imposes additional requirements to the currently mandated supervisor sexual harassment prevention training for companies with 50 or more employees to include information related to harassment based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

DON’T wait to until it becomes law. Let the Governor know what you think.

By Pascal Anastasi, Esq.

Chamber Board Member & Past President

More info at: www.BusinessAndTrustLawyer.com

408.292.2606

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