• Brooke Winter

CA Employment Law UPDATE for 2019

Updated: Dec 15, 2018

Is your business ready for 2019?

*Disclaimer: The materials available on this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.

California legislators have been very busy this year and there are A LOT of changes coming in 2019! I will give a brief description of the changes under each new law but I will list sources at the bottom of this blog in case you want to dig in deeper (which I highly recommend). Being unaware of these changes can put you and your entire business at risk so please take a few minutes to read through this blog and feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

· Protection for Employers Against Defamation Suits – AB 2770 sets up boundaries around employers who will be questioned for a recommendation for a former employee IF that former employee received complaints of sexual harassment. Basically, if you get a phone call from another employer asking you if Susie Sylvester worked for you and if you would hire her again, you are now allowed to disclose that Susie received complaints for sexual harassment while working for your business.

Why? In the past, you would have been open to a defamation lawsuit so the new law gives some protection. However, you must give this information professionally and "without malice" in order to stay protected.

· Equal Pay Changes – AB 2282 clarifies the ban on salary history inquiries and the requirement to provide pay scales to applicants. You can NOT ask an applicant what their current or previous wages were at their past or present job. You CAN ask the applicant what they expect to make at the job they are applying for with your business. The applicants can ask you for a pay scale for the job they are applying for but only after you have completed the initial interview. Whew! Catch all that?

Why? This is to prevent wage disparity and to ensure that employees are paid fairly and equally. Pay scales are the best way to ensure employees are not being underpaid or overpaid for their position and to prevent discrimination in the process.

· Gender Composition on Boards – SB 826 mandates that public companies based in the state have at least one female member on their boards of directors by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021, corporations with five or more directors will be required to include at least two female members. Corporations failing to comply with these requirements will face penalties ($100,000 fine for the first violation and a $300,000 fine for further violations).

Why? The goal is to shift large companies boards' gender makeup over the next few years. There was a "request" from lawmakers back in 2013 to begin adding more women to the executive boards but the change was so insignificant that Governor Brown passed legislation to get businesses to take the issue seriously; there is a lot of controversy around this decision.

· Expansion of Anti-Harassment Training Requirements – SB 1343 extends California’s requirement that employers with 50 or more employees provide supervisory personnel with anti-harassment training to employers with five or more employees, including seasonal and temporary employees. This means that ALL of your employees now have to take the required one hour of sexual harassment prevention training AND all supervisors/managers must take the two hour course. This is a MASSIVE change from the previous requirements. We are still waiting on the exact requirements of this new training course but luckily businesses have the entire year of 2019 to become compliant in this area.

Why? #MeToo has rocked the nation. California is trying to be proactive when it comes to preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. The hope is that by broadening who is required to take anti-harassment training we will begin to see a decrease of harassment in the workplace.

*I will publish a blog specifically on SB 1343 when we receive more information on the expectations and requirements of this training...so stay tuned!

· Payroll Records Requests – SB 1252 clarifies existing laws regarding an employee’s right to inspect or copy their own payroll records and requires that an employer must provide the copies of the records in addition to inspecting them. Basically, if an employee wants to see a copy of their payroll records, give it to them immediately.

Why? This holds employers accountable for payroll and wage accuracy.

· Lactation Accommodations – AB 1976 states that employers may NOT designate a bathroom as a lactation room. The designated location must be private and in close proximity to the employee’s work area. There are A LOT more details on this so please read some of the attached articles for specifics.

Why? Women have been asking for a private place to breast feed or breast pump while at work and the usual answer is "well, you have a bathroom so go do it in there". Not anymore. There needs to be a private location for women and this no longer means a bathroom stall is cutting it.

California has been in the top 3 tops states for highest number of employment lawsuits for the past 10 years.

Are YOU ready for 2019?

Sources & Further Reading: