New Pending Employment Laws
California employers may want to be aware of a number of employment-related bills still pending before the California Legislature, each of which is listed below. This list does not include employment bills that have already died in various committees during this legislative session. Pending bills must be passed by each house by August 31. After that, the Governor has until September 30 to sign or veto the legislation.
AB 2386: This bill would expand the definition of “sex” under the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include breastfeeding and medical conditions relating to breastfeeding, making discrimination on those grounds a violation of FEHA with a correlating private right of action.
AB 2373: This bill would add a new section to the Labor Code setting forth 17 factors to consider to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The enumerated factors are similar to those employed by California courts analyzing independent contractor/employee status.
AB 1450: This bill would make it unlawful for an employer to exclude from the applicant pool or refuse to hire someone based on their unemployed status. It would also prohibit job advertisements stating that current employment is a requirement for consideration for the job.
AB 1999: This bill would add “family caregiver status” as a protected class under FEHA, thereby prohibiting discrimination in employment against a person based on the person being a family caregiver. For purposes of the legislation, “family caregiver” is defined as an individual who provides medical or supervisory care for a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent or grandchild.
AB 2039: This bill would expand the circumstances under which employees could take leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) by (1) eliminating current age and dependency requirements from the definition of “child,” thereby permitting an employee to take leave to care for an adult child, (2) expanding the definition of “parent” to include parents-in-law, and (3) permitting an employee to take leave to care for a grandparent, sibling, or grandchild.
AB 1844: This bill would prohibit an employer from requiring or requesting that an employee or applicant disclose user name or password information for personal social media, or to divulge any personal social media.
SB 1255: This bill would specify circumstances under which “injury” would be presumed to an employee as a result of an employer not providing wage statements, or providing incomplete wage statements. Presumed injury would allow the employee to recover penalties and/or actual damage. Presumed injury could be shown by the failure to provide a wage statement at all, or by the failure to include the employee’s name and last 4 digits of the social security number. It could also be shown by failing to provide complete wage information, causing the employee to be unable to determine (from the statement alone) gross and net wages earned, deductions there from, and the name and address of the employer.
AB 1744: This bill would require temporary services employers to include additional information on itemized wage statements for employees, including the rate of pay for each assignment, the name and address of the entity that secured the services and total hours worked for each entity.
AB 2674: This bill would amend section 1198.5 of the Labor Code relating to employee rights to inspect personnel files. The bill would require employers to maintain employee personnel files for at least 3 years following termination of employment, and to permit current and former employees (or their designated representatives) to inspect and copy personnel records, within 30 days of a request to do so by the employee. The bill specifies that an employer is not required to comply with more than 50 requests for copies of personnel records by a representative of employee(s) in one calendar month.
AB 1964: This bill would add to the current requirement under FEHA that employers reasonably accommodate religious beliefs and observances of employees, by specifying that a religious dress practice or grooming practice are covered “beliefs and observances.”
AB 1875: While not technically an employment bill, this bill would impact employment litigation by limiting depositions in state court cases to 7 hours (as is the limitation in federal court).
As you can see, most if not all of these bills have the effect of adding new prohibitions on employment actions and increasing burdens on California employers, simultaneously giving rise to new potential legal claims for violations. Bills that aimed to reduce burdens on California employers, add flexibility to the workplace, and/or reduce litigation were largely killed by the California Legislature. I will continue to keep you updated on the progress of these bills as the close of the legislative session nears.