With the end of 2018 just around the corner, it is time to look at the new California employment laws that will affect your rights as an employee.  The following is a list of new employment laws that will govern the employee-employer relationship beginning on January 1, 2019.

AB3109 (Disclosure of Sexual Harassment): This new law prohibits an employer from putting any provision in a settlement agreement or contract that prevents an employee (current or former) from testifying about criminal conduct or sexual harassment in an administrative, legislative or judicial proceeding.  Often when an employer settles a sexual harassment claim, there will be a confidentiality provision in the settlement agreement which prevents the employee from speaking about the harassment.  This provision essentially removes the confidentiality provision as it relates to an employee testifying at an administrative, legislative or judicial proceeding.

SB 224 (Sexual Harassment):  Under this law the types of relationships that can be subject to a claim for sexual harassment will be expanded.  In particular, this law provides examples of professional relationships where sexual harassment claims may authorize the DFEH to investigate the claim.  These professional relationships include lobbyists, elected officials, directors, producers, and investors.

SB 820 (Settlement of Sexual Harassment Claims): This law will prohibit a settlement agreement, entered into after January 1, 2019, from containing a provision that precludes an employee from disclosing information relating to claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender discrimination or retaliation that was filed with the court or an administrative agency.  However, the settlement agreement can contain a provision that prohibits an employee from disclosing the monetary settlement amount.  Lastly, at the employee’s request, the settlement agreement may contain a provision that limits the disclosure of the employee’s identity or facts that would lead to the discovery of the employee’s identity.

SB 826 (Female Inclusion on Board of Directors): This law will require publicly held domestic and foreign corporations with principal executive offices in California to have at least one female director on the board by the end of 2019.  By the end of 2021, these corporation will have to comply with the following standards:(1) If the number of directors is six or more, the corporation shall have a minimum of three female directors; (2) If the number of directors is five, the corporation shall have a minimum of two female directors; and (3) If the number of directors is four or fewer, the corporation shall have a minimum of one female director.

SB 1123 (Expansion of Paid Family Leave): Under this new law, an employee will be entitled to paid family leave benefits beginning on January 1, 2021 for taking time off for if it is due to being called to active duty or a spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child being called to active duty.

SB 1252 (Payment for Copying of Payroll Records): This law clarifies that when an employee requests copies of his or her payroll records, the employer is responsible for the copying costs associated with copying the employee’s payroll records.

SB 1300 (FEHA Sexual Harassment Provisions): This law expands the Government Code by including a provision making it unlawful for an employer to require an employee to release a harassment and/or discrimination claim in exchange for a bonus, raise or continued employment.  It also makes employers liable for any kind of unlawful harassment by non-employees where the employer knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take action.  Lastly, it makes it more difficult for harassment claims to be dismissed through the summary judgment process.

SB 1343 (Sexual Harassment Training):  Employers with 5 or more employees will be required to provide sexual harassment training.  Furthermore, employers will be required to provide at least 2 hours of harassment training to supervisory employees and at least one hour so harassment training to non-supervisory employees by January 1, 2020.

SB 1412 (Criminal History Inquiries): This law limits an employer’s criminal history check by having the employer consider only a “particular conviction” that is relevant to the job when screening applicants using a criminal background check.  Meaning the employer cannot go and scour an employee’s background looking for irrelevant crimes, giving the employee privacy relating to his or her background.

SB 1619 (Increase in the Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations): The statute of limitations for a sexual assault civil lawsuit is increased to ten years after the assault or 3 years after the plaintiff discovered or should have reasonably discovered injury as a result of the assault, whichever is later.

SB 1976 (Lactation Accommodation): This law modifies the current lactation law by requiring a lactation station to be something other than a toilet stall.  The law further provides that the station should be permanent, but can be temporary if:(1) the employer is unable to provide a permanent location due to operational, financial, or space limitations; (2) the temporary location is private and free from intrusion while being used for lactation purposes; and (3) the temporary location is not used for other purposes while being used for lactation.

If you have any questions about these new employment laws, please contact an attorney at The Rinka Law Firm, PC.  Our telephone number is 310-556-9653.

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