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New Employment Regulations for 2019

SB 1252 (Copy of Payroll Records): There have been several clients that experienced this issue. Prior to 2019, attorneys requesting payroll records were often denied the information because of the wording in the law. The law required that employees had a right to inspect or copy their payroll records and that they must be allowed to do so within 21 days of such a request. This new law clarifies that if an employee requests a copy of the records, the employer must provide the copies (as opposed to requiring employees to copy the records themselves). Going forward if authorized by the employee, you must provide requested payroll records to their designated representative.

SB 1412 (Criminal History Inquiries): This bill amends Labor Code section 432.7, which limits employers’ ability to conduct criminal history inquiries and to use criminal history information in employment decisions. Existing law makes an exception for employers who are required by federal or state law to inquire into an applicant or employee’s criminal history. The amendment is intended to tighten the exception to apply only where an employer is required by law to inquire into a “particular conviction” or where an employer cannot
by law hire someone with a “particular conviction” to make clear that employers may only consider “particular convictions” when assessing criminal history. “Particular conviction” is defined only to mean “a conviction for specific criminal conduct or a category of criminal offenses prescribed by any federal law, federal regulation or state law that contains requirements, exclusions, or both, expressly based on that specific criminal conduct or category of criminal offenses.”

SB 820 (Settlement of Sexual Harassment Claims): This new law prohibits provisions in settlement agreements entered into after January 1, 2019 that prevent disclosure of factual information pertaining to claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender discrimination or related retaliation that have been filed in court or before an administrative agency. The new law does not prohibit a provision that prevents the parties to the agreement from disclosing the amount of the settlement. Additionally, at the claimant’ request, the settlement agreement may include a provision that limits the disclosure of the claimant’s identity or of facts that would lead to the discovery of the claimant’s identity.

SB 1300 (Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) Amendments): This bill amends FEHA in a number of respects, including (1) to add a provision making it an unlawful practice for an employer to require an employee to release a FEHA claim in exchange for a bonus, raise, or continued employment; (2) to make employers liable for any kind of unlawful harassment by non-employees (not just for sexual harassment as under existing law) where the employer knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take appropriate remedial action; and (3) to add certain statements of legislative intent to make it harder for employers to prevail on harassment claims (e.g. a legislative declaration that harassment cases are rarely appropriate for resolution on summary judgment, and a declaration that a single act of harassment may suffice to support a finding of a hostile work environment).

SB 1343 (Sexual Harassment Training): Existing law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide supervisors with sexual harassment training. This new law expands the training requirement to employers with 5 or more employees and requires that employers provide at least 2 hours of training to supervisory employees and at least one hour of training to non-supervisory employees by January 1, 2020 and once every two years thereafter. It also requires the DFEH to develop and post training materials for employers to use for these purposes.

SB 826 (Gender Composition of Boards of Directors): This new law provides for mandatory inclusion of women on corporate boards of directors. Specifically, by the end of 2019, publicly held domestic or foreign corporations with principal executive offices in California must have a minimum of one female director on its board, and by the end of 2021, these corporations must comply with the following: (1) If its number of directors is six or more, the corporation shall have a minimum of three female directors; (2) If its number of directors is five, the corporation shall have a minimum of two female directors; (3) If its number of directors is four or fewer, the corporation shall have a minimum of one female director. The new law also requires the Secretary of State to publish certain statistical information in this regard on its website.

SB 1976 (Lactation Accommodation): This new law makes changes to existing lactation accommodation law. The existing law requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a location other than a toilet stall to be used for lactation. The new law specifies that the location should be something other than a bathroom and further specifies that it generally should be a permanent location but that it can be a temporary location 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. The new law also provides that an agricultural employer may comply by allowing an employee to use the air-conditioned cab of a tractor or truck. If an employer can prove that it is an undue hardship to comply with these requirements, the employer may be able to provide a location (including a bathroom) other than a toilet stall for the employee to use for lactation purposes.

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