BOO! New CA Laws for 2019

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TPPS Client FYI – October 31, 2018

It all started one cool fall afternoon….your favorite HR team sent you a very scary email with tales of terrifying changes to employment law coming in the new year. But in the end you knew that if you made the right decisions, updated your policies, educated your teams, and relied on your experts you would be fine (unlike those fools in the movies who always go into that dark room alone, and never come out….).

This is your spooky preview of new laws to be on the lookout for! More to come from TPPS as we dissect how all of these will impact business in the new year.

SB 1300 Expansion of Sexual Harassment Laws: Through SB 1300 the State has clarified the intentions of the already existing sexual harassment laws, and adds to them. Specially, it cites a list of cases that can and cannot be used in judicial decisions going forward. It expands potential liability for all acts of unlawful harassment, not just sexual, and for acts of non-employees. It creates a prohibition on requiring employees to sign a release of FEHA claims or rights, and/or any document prohibiting disclosure of information related to unlawful acts in the workplace. This includes non-disparagement agreements. It states that a prevailing defendant can only collect attorney’s fees if the court finds the claim to be frivolous, unreasonable or meritless when filed, or after found to be without merit and the plaintiff continued to litigate.  Finally, it encourages, though does not require, employers to provide bystander intervention training to employees (perhaps this will be required down the road….). In summary, what we hear it saying is, we don’t mess around with unlawful harassment, any type of it, and we expect employers do everything to in their power to ensure it doesn’t happen in the first place.

SB 224 Expands who can be a harasser: This is clearly in response to the Hollywood #MeToo movement. While employers in California already understand (or should) that anyone who does business with or in your business can be a harasser (e.g. the UPS delivery driver), AB 224 expands that to include anyone who “holds himself or herself out as being able to help the plaintiff establish a business, service, or professional relationship with the defendant or a third party.” While we immediately think this applies to talent agents and managers, it is a very broad definition, so be sure to understand its impact on your organization.

SB 1343 LISTEN UP ALL EMPLOYERS: – We all know that in California if you have 50 or more employees you must conduct two hours of Sexual Harassment Training with your managers and supervisors every two years (AB 1825), with SB 1343 employers with five (5) of more employees are now included in the party! Employers will have until January 1, 2020 to come into compliance (don’t wait until December 2019). Newly hired or promoted managers and supervisors will have six months from hire/promotion to complete the training. The law also requires the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing to create training that can be used, it is unclear when this will be available. TPPS is available to conduct training in compliance with AB 1825 and SB 1343. Employers may also take advantage of a variety of online canned trainings. There are pros and cons to live training and web based training. Some of our clients like to alternate between the two. Let us know if you are interested in live training.

In addition, all employers with five (5) or more employees must provide ALL employees with at least one (1) hour of anti-harassment training every two years. This includes temporary workers. Staffing agencies will be responsible for training their workers starting January 1, 2020, but that won’t necessarily get you off the hook if they fail to do so. Be sure to use an agency who is HR focused, and understands and respects the laws (staffing agencies are not all created equal). Consider calling TPPS next time you need a temp, trust us we know a little about HR…

SB 126 Women on board: Women must be included in the Board of Directors for publicly held corporations.  

AB 1976 Lactation Accommodations:  Another new law that expands and clarifies existing law. Currently, employers must provide nursing mothers with a private space as well as reasonable breaks to express breast milk throughout the work day. AB 1976 removes the term “toilet stall” and replaces it with the term “bathroom” when referring to an acceptable space. Many employers already err on the side of caution and keep these spaces away from restrooms. If you have a space within a restroom, you will need to find a suitable alternative before the start of the new year. 

AB 2282 A Treat: AB 2282 clarifies the rules around salary history and providing pay scales when asked. First as a reminder, employers in California are prohibited from asking applicants about their pay history. Employers are also required to provide the pay range for a job opening when asked by applicants. What we now have clarity on, and this is good in our opinion, is that only applicants who have completed an interview with your company are entitled to ask what the pay range is (i.e. someone who is just fishing for information, like say a competitor, cannot simply ask if they are not being interviewed).

The list goes on and on….and includes some industry specific laws, but we didn’t want to frighten you too bad just yet. If you have any questions or want to learn more about some of the industry specific laws that may affect your business, Just Ask Us!

Happy Halloween!