Governor Gavin Newsom closed out the 2019 legislative session by signing dozens of bills, including 15 that will impact the rights of employers and employees.
Below are short summaries involving some important ones related to employment laws:
- AB 9 — FEHA’s statute of limitations extended
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is augmented by Stop Harassment and Reporting Extension (SHARE) triples the window for reporting unlawful workplace harassment, discrimination as well as retaliation from one year to three years. AB 9 will be six-times longer than the federal standard.
- AB 51 —employers cannot force arbitration or curtail other employee rights
This prevents employers from forcing current or potential employees from signing away the rights provided by FEHA or the Labor Code. Employers cannot threaten, retaliate against, discriminate against, or dismiss workers who refuse to waive their rights.
- AB 749 — settlement agreements
This voids the practice of using “no hire” provisions, although there are exceptions involving assault or sexual harassment. The employer can also refuse to rehire a worker if it determined that the employee was terminated for non-retaliatory or non-discriminatory reasons.
- SB 688— unpaid wages
This expands the Labor Commissioner’s power to cite instances of employers not paying what was contractually promised or failing to pay an agreed-upon amount that was less than minimum wage.
- AB 673 – employees can recover unpaid wages through civil penalties
Rather than waiting for the Labor Commissioner to cite an employer, each employee is now entitled to $100 for each initial violation involving failure to pay, and $200 for subsequent willful or intentional violations involving each employee. Employers are also liable for 25% of the amount unlawfully withheld.
Businesses may need to adjust
Those California businesses with questions or concerns regarding these changes may wish to speak with an employment law attorney. Rather than leaving businesses to risk penalties for non-compliance, appropriate adjustments to a company’s rules and protocols can protect businesses from unnecessary penalties.