New Employment Laws In Play Regarding Licenses for Undocumented Individuals

In 2013, the Department of Motor Vehicles was authorized to issue an original driver’s license to an individual who is not able to submit proof that their presence in the United States is authorized under federal law. (California Assembly Bill 60 created Vehicle Code section 12801.9). This same bill also made it illegal to discriminate against a person who holds such a driver’s license under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. AB 60 is to take effect on January 1st, 2015.

The licenses issued to undocumented persons under the new law will have a distinctive design/color and will have text on the photo indicating limitations for official federal purposes. Additional provisions related to the licenses were included in Assembly Bill 1660 (passed in September) to provide protections in employment context. Employers will be prohibited from discriminating against a person because they hold a license that was issued under Vehicle Code section 12801.9. Employers will be prohibited from requiring workers to present a driver’s license unless possessing one is required by the employer or otherwise permitted by laws in place. Additional provisions have been put in place to protect holders of licenses issued under Vehicle Code section 12801.9 from unlawful release of private information, use to establish citizenship or immigration status for investigation, arrest, citation, etc.

The new licenses will not be acceptable to establish eligibility for employment and they will not be acceptable for any official federal requirements or purposes. The new laws will not change the employers’ rights regarding obtaining information in order to establish an employee’s authorization to work (required under federal law). Employers will still be required to have employees provide documentation and submit the I-9 documentation to determine work eligibility. Employer action taken in accordance with federal Immigration and Nationality Act will not be in violation of the new laws regarding the licenses and the use of licenses issued under Vehicle Code section 12801.9.

For additional information regarding the new laws regarding issuance of licenses for undocumented persons or to get further information on federal work eligibility laws, contact the southern California employment law experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik. 

California Labor Law Update: Changes in Sexual Harassment Protection

New employment laws or amendments to existing laws are passed by the California legislature every year. The changes can directly impact the relationship between an employer and their employees as well as how they run their business. 2014 saw dozens of new labor laws go into effect.  

One important change that occurred in 2014 was a result of an amendment to Government Code 12940. It clarifies the definition of sexual harassment in the workplace. After a 2013 appellate decision, there was a question as to whether or not there needed to be sexual desire on the part of the perpetrator in order to establish a legitimate sexual harassment claim. Bill 292 addressed this issue.

The California legislature passed Senate Bill 292 in 2013 and we saw it go into effect on January 1, 2014. This amendment to the previous employment law defining sexual harassment in the workplace in California redefines the issue: sexual harassment is prohibited under California law without regard to the sexual desire of the perpetrator. It was reasoned that sexual harassment (like other forms of harassment) isn’t necessarily motivated by desire. In fact, harassment of all types is more often motivated by hostility. The passing of this bill addressed the confusion in the California courts regarding whether or not a sexual harassment claim can be established without a basis of desire. Senate Bill 292 clarifies what the California courts have been recognizing for years: that sexual motive or desire isn’t necessary in order to establish a sexual harassment claim and bring action against an employer. 

If you or someone you know has questions about what constitutes a sexual harassment claim or if you feel you work in a hostile work environment get in touch with the employment law experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.