New Laws In the Workplace Effective January 1, 2019

Employers and employees alike should be aware that a number of new California laws went into effect on January 1, 2019. If you aren’t sure what they are, read on for a short summary of each new law for California workplaces.

1.     Criminal History and Applications for Employment: Senate Bill 1412

Senate Bill 1412 allows California employers to ask an applicant, or a separate source, about specific convictions if: a) the employer is required to obtain information on a specific conviction regardless of whether or not the conviction was expunged, sealed, eradicated, or dismissed, b) the applicant’s employment would require the use of a firearm on the job, c) applicants with particular convictions are prohibited from holding the job being filled regardless of whether or not the applicant’s conviction has been expunged, sealed, eradicated, or dismissed, d) employers are prohibited by law from hiring job applicants who have particular convictions regardless of whether or not they have been expunged, sealed, eradicated, or dismissed.

2.     Board of Directors Equality: Senate Bill 826

By December 31, 2019, publicly held corporations with executive offices in California must have a minimum of one female director on the board of directors.

3.     Overtime for Agricultural Workers: Assembly Bill 1066

Agricultural Workers must receive overtime pay in addition to their salaries. This law is intended to result in a slow increase of the wages for extra hours put in by agricultural employees over the course of the next four years. Changes effective Jan. 1, 2019 apply to employers who hire more than 25 employees.

4.     Street Vendors: Senate Bill 946

The activity of street vendors in California is protected; they are allowed to sell on the streets. This measure also provides local authorities the power to establish applicable regulations based on health, safety and public welfare.

5.     Breastfeeding in the Workplace: Assembly Bill 1976

Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations in order to provide breastfeeding employees with a location that is not a bathroom.

6.     Waiver of Legal Claims: Senate Bill 1300

Employers in California are prohibited after Jan. 1, 2019 from forcing employees to sign nondisparagement agreements that release the employer of claims, including sexual harassment, as a condition for obtaining a raise, bonus, or employment. There are exceptions allowing employees or job applicants to voluntarily sign a waiver of legal claims. This bill also strengthens requirements for sexual harassment training by including bystander intervention training.

7.     Protection Against Lawsuits/Harassment Complaints: Assembly Bill 2770

Designed as a protection from the threat of a defamation lawsuit, this bill protects those seeking to make a sexual harassment allegation based on credible evidence and without malice. This law was passed after California defamation laws were identified as a potential obstruction that sometimes deters victims and witnesses from making complaints or reporting information about harassment. It also protects companies who warn other potential employers of harassing activity from a defamation lawsuit.

8.     Confidentiality Agreements: Senate Bill 820

This bill, applicable to private and public employers in the state of California, prohibits secret settlements or nondisclosure agreements pertaining to facts in sexual assault, harassment or discrimination cases. It also offers sexual abuse or sex discrimination cases the option to keep names private.

If you have experienced violations of California employment law in the workplace and need help determining your best course of action, seek the counsel of an experienced California employment law attorney at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.