California's 2014-2015 legislative session ended August 31st, and a significant number of bills impacting employers were passed by the legislature. Governor Brown signed numerous bills sent to his desk covering various areas of employment law including discrimination, arbitration, and health and insurance benefits. A short summary of three of these new laws are highlighted below. The effective date for each of these laws is January 1, 2015, unless otherwise noted.
Unpaid Interns and Volunteers Now Protected from Discrimination and Harassment
AB 1443 amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to extend harassment and discrimination protections to interns and volunteers. It amends Government Code section 12940(c) – which currently prohibits discrimination in apprentice training programs – to also preclude discriminating against interns and volunteers on the basis of any legally protected classification (e.g., race, religion, disability, etc.) and to prohibit sexual harassment of them, and to extend the existing religious belief accommodation requirements to them.
Employers Required to Pay Employees up to 3 Days Paid Sick Leave Annually
AB 1522, also known as The Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, requires California employers to pay employees for up to three days of sick leave per year. The new law applies to both full-time and part-time workers at businesses of all size and to all state, county, and municipal employers. When the bill takes effect on July 1, 2015, employees will be eligible to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked and employers will be able to cap the use of that paid time off to three days per year. While the Act's provisions for the accrual and use of paid sick days becomes effective on July 1, 2015, the Act contains posting, record keeping, and pay stub disclosure requirements that may be effective January 1, 2015.
FEHA Now Prohibits Discrimination based on Driver's License for Undocumented Workers
AB 1660 makes it a violation of the Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA) to discriminate against an individual because he/she holds a driver's license indicating the worker is undocumented. Legislation enacted last year (AB 60) authorized the California Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a special driver's license to an undocumented person and prohibited businesses from discriminating against individuals who hold or present such driver's licenses. AB 1660 further amends the FEHA to prohibit an employer from requiring a person to present a driver's license, unless possessing a driver's license is required by the employer and the employer's requirement is otherwise permitted by law. AB 1660 does not affect an employer's rights or obligations to obtain information required under federal law to determine identity and authorization to work.
Experienced California Employment Lawyers
Given the ongoing changes to California's employment laws, employers should make sure they make the proper adjustments in policies and procedures. Just as important, employers should make sure employees are properly classified as exempt or non-exempt, and hiring managers should be made aware of the latest revisions to the Fair Employment and Housing Act. To further discuss the new laws above, feel free to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Call toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us.