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SB 1343/778 Harassment Prevention Training

Requires that all employers of five (5) or more employees provide one (1) hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to non-managerial employees and two (2) hours of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to managerial employees once every two years. The training and education required by this section shall include information and practical guidance regarding the federal and state statutory provisions concerning the prohibition against and the prevention and correction of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in employment. Existing law also requires the trainings to include practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation and to be provided by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in those areas. Both managerial and non-managerial employees must receive training by January 1, 2021. After January 1, 2021, employees must be retrained once every two years.

AB 5  – Worker  Classification Imposes sweeping amendments to the California Labor Code and the Unemployment Insurance Code. Most significantly, the law expands and codifies the presumption that workers are “employees” and expressly adopts the “ABC” test for classifying independent contractors that the California Supreme Court articulated in 2018. A worker is presumed to be an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity can establish the following conditions are satisfied: 1. The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact. 2. The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business. 3. The person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

SB 83 – Paid  Family Leave Increases the maximum wage replacement benefits under California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program from six to eight weeks, beginning July 1, 2020. Employers should review policies and notices addressing PFL benefits and update those documents to address this change, effective July 1, 2020. This is a benefit provided by the State and does not require employers to provide time off unless such time off is required under a protected Leave (i.e. Family Leave).

SB 142 – Lactation Accommodation Expands an employer’s duties and responsibilities in providing lactation accommodation to those employees who need to express breast milk.  This bill mandates employers to provide a lactation room or location, not a bathroom, that: 1. Is in close proximity to the employee’s work area; 2. Shielded from view; 3. Free from intrusion while the employee is expressing milk; 4. Safe, clean and free of hazardous materials; 5. Contains a surface to place a breast pump and personal items; 6. Contains a place to sit; 7. Has access to electricity; and, 8. The employer must provide access to a sink with running water and a refrigerator for storing milk in close proximity to the employee’s working space. Additionally, the bill requires employers to develop and implement a lactation policy.  Such lactation policy must include, among other things, a statement about an employee’s right to request lactation accommodation and a statement about an employee’s right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for an employer’s failure to provide the accommodation. The bill equates a denial of lactation break time or space to a violation of a rest period, thus subjecting the employer to a $100 penalty per violation. Employers with 50 or fewer employees that demonstrate that this law would impose an undue hardship (such as being too difficult or expensive) may be exempted from SB 142’s requirements. AB 1223 – Organ  Donation Leave  Expands employee protection for organ donation by requiring employers with 15 or more employees to provide an additional unpaid leave of absence (up to 30 business days per year) to an employee donating an organ (following the 30 business days of paid leave for organ donation required under current California law).  Employers should determine whether any existing written policies addressing organ donation leave need to be updated to address this change in the law.

SB 188 – Hairstyle Discrimination Known as the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), expands the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s definition of race to include traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and protective hairstyles.  The bill defines “protective hairstyles” as “braids, locks, and twits.”  The law prohibits workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists and locks.

AB 51 – Employment Discrimination Essentially bans mandatory arbitration agreements and prohibits employers from requiring any applicant for employment or any employee to waive any right, forum, or procedure for a violation of any provision of the FEHA or other specific statutes governing employment (such the Labor Code) as a condition of employment, continued employment, or the receipt of any employment- related benefit. This means that, except in certain limited circumstances, AB 51 essentially bans arbitration agreements in California. In addition, AB 51 provides that even an opt-out of a waiver provision or requiring employees to take any affirmative action in order to preserve their rights are deemed a condition of employment and prohibited. AB 51 also prohibits employers from threatening, retaliating or discriminating against, or terminating any applicant for employment or any employee because of the refusal to consent to the waiver of any right, forum, or procedure for a violation of specific statutes governing employment. In an attempt to address federal preemption issues, AB 51 provides that nothing in the bill is intended to invalidate a written arbitration agreement that is otherwise enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.). Also, AB 51 should not impact arbitration agreements entered into prior to January 1, 2020, and does not apply to post-dispute settlement agreements or negotiated severance agreements. Given the potential clash with the Federal Arbitration Act, it is expected that AB 51 will be challenged on preemption grounds.

AB 673 – Failure to Pay Wages: Penalties In addition to existing penalties that an employee may recover for an employer’s failure to timely pay an employee’s wages, AB 673 authorizes the affected employee to bring an action to recover statutory penalties against the employer to recover unpaid wages. This bill provides that for any initial violation, the employer is subject to $100 for each failure to pay each employee. For each subsequent violation, or any willful or intentional violation, the employer is subject to $200 for each failure to pay each employee, plus 25 percent of the amount unlawfully withheld.

AB 1554 – Employers: Dependent Care Assistance Program: Notice to Employees This bill requires an employer to notify an employee who participates in a flexible spending account of any deadline to withdraw funds before the end of the plan year. The notice may include, but is not limited to, the following: electronic mail, telephone, text message, mail, or in person.

AB 1805 –  Occupational Safety and Health  Under existing law, “serious injury or illness” is defined as requiring inpatient hospitalization for a period in excess of 24 hours for purposes of reporting serious occupational injury or illness to the Division. AB 1805 removes the 24-hour minimum time requirement, excludes those for medical observation or diagnostic testing, and explicitly includes the loss of an eye as a qualifying injury. This bill deletes, among other things, loss of a body member from the definition of serious injury and, instead, includes amputation. In addition, this bill redefines “serious exposure” to include exposure of an employee to a hazardous substance in a degree or amount sufficient to create a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm in the future could result from the actual hazard created by the exposure. This bill also establishes that a serious violation exists when the Division determines that there is a realistic possibility that death or serious injury could result from the actual hazard created by the condition alleged in the complaint.

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