By: Shagun Parekh
This article addresses some significant changes in legislation that occurred over the past few days. It seeks to highlight the top employment legislations that First-year Governor Gavin Newsom signed. The nature of these changes makes the Golden State truly golden for employees as it gets even easier than it already was to sue employers.
Unless otherwise noted, each of the measures listed in this article are set to go into effect on January 1, 2020.
Key points to note:
Amendments to california’s privacy law
The amendments to the California Privacy Act (CCPA) have a direct impact on the employers as they require covered businesses to meet a certain revenue threshold, implement certain policies and adopt procedures which provide consumers certain privacy rights.
As applicable to employees, the AB 25 will postpone all CCPA obligations regarding employee data by one year. The only two which make the cut are the provision pertaining to reasonable security measures to safeguard employee data and disclosure of the categories of personal information collected with regards to employees, job applicants and the corresponding business use of such information. Additionally, AB 1355 also exempts specified business to business communications or transactions from the purview of the CCPA.
Lactation accommodation requirements
Under existing law, an employer was required to make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room, or other location, other than a bathroom, in close proximity to the employee’s work area, for the employee to express milk in private. SB 142 now requires that the lactation room or location be “safe, clean and free to hazardous materials”.
There are additional requirements of providing a surface to place the breast pump and personal items on, a place to sit, access to electricity or alternate resources needed to operate an electric or battery-powered breast pump. The employer is now also mandated to provide access to a sink with running water and a cooling device like a cooler or refrigerator. Further, when a multipurpose room is used for lactation among other uses, the use of the room for lactation shall take precedence over the other uses at a time when it is being used for lactating purpose.
This change also brings with it increased liability for failing to provide reasonable break time for employees to express breast milk and a mandated adoption and distribution of an employer lactation policy. An employer who fails to comply will be under a violation of Section 226.7 of the Labor Code. There are several exceptions and accommodations for employers but undoubtedly, the stakes have been raised.
statue of limitations
The new measure which was signed into law will extend the statute of limitations for filing an employment-related administrative complaint by two years. This means that employees now have a total of three years to drag their employers to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing as opposed to the current time limit of one year. Although the motivating force behind this change were the recent #MeToo developments, this sweeping change under AB 9 will extend the statute of limitations for all employment related claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
No Rehire No More
It is common for employers to enter into settlement agreements with their employees over threatened claims or lawsuits. Such agreements are usually airtight and in favor of the employer. The prevailing trend for such agreements is to include a “no-rehire” clause to protect the employer’s interests indefinitely. Per this clause, if an employee who is entering into the settlement agreement with the employer ever applies for a job opening with the same employer at any point, the employer is entitled to reject that application without facing adverse consequence.
Under AB 749, however, starting January 1, 2020 these clauses will not be permitted. This change prohibits an employer from including any language in a settlement agreement that may prevent the employee from obtaining future employment with that employer. The scope of this change extends to employment with parent companies, subsidiaries, divisions, affiliates or even contractors. If any such clause still exists in an agreement, it will be interpreted as void.
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