California has often been at the forefront of labor law. This year, a number of new laws affecting California employees and evolving the employer-employee relationship have gone into effect.

These include:

SB 1343 – Harassment Prevention Training Requirements Extended to Smaller Employers and Nonsupervisory Employees

Businesses with five or more employees must now provide at least two-hours worth of anti-harassment training to supervisors and one-hour to employees before 2020 and at least once a year after that. The state of California is further required to making training materials readily available.

AB 2034 – Requires Transportation Agencies to Provide Training on Human Trafficking

Businesses or agencies that operate a facility for bus stations, light rails, or intercity passenger rails must provide training to new and existing employees on recognizing the signs of human trafficking and how to report these signs to law enforcement. The training must be completed by January 1, 2021 and must be at least twenty minutes in length. Employers must provide guidance on how to identify individuals most at risk for human trafficking.

Similarly, SB 970 requires hotel industries to provide employees with at least twenty minutes of training on identifying and reporting human traffickers.

AB 1976 – Expanded Lactation Accommodation Requirements

California’s lactation accommodation law is now consistent with federal law, granting workers a reasonable amount of break time to express milk. Existing law previously required employers to provide employees with a private room or location other than a toilet stall to pump breast milk, but AB 1976 now requires the location not be anywhere in a bathroom.

An employer has complied with this law by providing a temporary location that meets the following requirements:

  • The employer is unable to provide a permanent lactation location because of operational, financial, or space limitations;
  • The temporary location must be private and free from intrusion while an employee expresses milk;
  • The temporary location is used only for lactation purposes while an employee express breast milk; and
  • The temporary location otherwise meets the California law requirements for lactation accommodations. (Labor Code §§ 1030-1033)

SB 826 – Certain Corporations’ Board of Directors Must Include a Minimum Number of Female Directors by the Close of 2019 and 2021

Publicly traded California corporations must appoint at least one woman to their board of directors by the end of 2019. Boards with four directors must have at least one woman, those with five directors must have at least two women, and those with six directors must have at least three women directors by the end of 2021.

AB 3109 – Contracts and Settlement Agreements Cannot Waive a Party’s Right to Testify in Certain Administrative, Legislative, or Judicial Proceedings

AB 3109 prohibits contract or settlement agreements from limiting/waiving a party’s right to testify in an administrative, legislative, or judicial proceeding concerning alleged criminal conduct or sexual harassment on the part of the other party to the contract where the party has been required or requested to attend the proceeding. Additionally, public agencies must ensure that contracts or settlements entered into on or after January 1, 2019 do not limit or waive a party’s right to testify in a proceeding concerning alleged criminal conduct or sexual harassment.

SB 820 – Settlement Agreements Cannot Prevent Disclosure of Factual Information Related to Sexual Harassment or Discrimination Claims

SB 820 prohibits all confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements limiting the disclosure of factual information related to:

  • Sexual assault;
  • Sexual harassment involving business, service, or professional relationships as defined in Civil Code § 51.9 of the Unruh Act; or
  • Workplace harassment or discrimination based on sex, failure to prevent an act of workplace harassment or discrimination based on sex, or an act of retaliation against a person for reporting harassment or discrimination based on sex as provided under Government Code § 12940 of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

SB 820 also expands the definition of working relationships to include those held with lobbyists, producers, and directors. It further allows claimants to exclude from the publicly accessible settlement agreement fact that would allow for the claimant to be identified.

SB 1300 – Employee Protections Impacting FEHA Claims for Discrimination, Retaliation, and Harassment

Employers are prohibited from making a raise, bonus, or continued employment conditional on an employee’s signing a release on a claim of harassment by nonemployees for which the employer may be liable.

SB 1412 – Clarifies Employers Are Not Prohibited From Seeking Criminal History Information When Required by State or Federal Law

Employers whose jobs require, for security reasons, that employees disclose prior convictions, including those convictions that have been judicially sealed or expunged, will be limited to ask only about a relevant conviction.

AB 2282 – Clarifications Regarding Employers’ Use and Consideration of Salary History Information

AB 2282 clarifies a previous law dictating that an employer may not rely on salary history information of an applicant for employment as a factor in determining whether to offer the applicant employment or what salary to offer the applicant, unless the applicant voluntarily discloses this information. The previous law also required employers to provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant upon reasonable request. AB 2282 clarifies the previous law by defining “pay scale” as “a salary or hourly wage range.” AB 2282 defines “applicant” as “an individual who is seeking employment with the employer and is not currently employed with that employer in any capacity or position.”

The revised law allows employers to ask an applicant about their salary expectation for the position being applied for, but employers are still prohibited from seeking past salary history information.

SB 1123 – Expansion of Paid Family Leave

Under Paid Family Leave, SB 1123 expands the scope of the Family Temporary Disability Insurance Program to include time off to attend to a “qualifying exigency” related to the individual’s spouse, registered, domestic partner, child or parent who is an active duty member of the US Air Force, beginning January 1, 2021.

SB 1123 affects only active duty members who are deployed in a foreign country.