Workplace Discrimination and Retaliation
The California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley have been closely tracking employment laws from introduction to enactment in the 2016 legislature. Several proposed laws we previously covered from the 2016 session eventually passed both chambers and were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. Five such laws regarding workplace discrimination and retaliation are highlighted below. California employers and employees alike should consult an experienced labor attorney should questions arise about any of these new laws.
Amendments to California's Fair Pay Act Expanding Wage Equality Laws
SB 1063 amends Labor Code Sections 1197.5 and 1199.5 and expands protection for equal pay for “substantially similar work” beyond gender to include race and ethnicity. Employees who perform “substantially similar work” under similar working conditions must be paid equally, unless the employer can demonstrate that the wage differential is based on any of the following:
- a seniority system;
- a merit system;
- a system that measures earnings by quality or quantity of production; or
- a bona fide factor other than sex, race or ethnicity.
AB 1676 amends the Labor Code Section 1197.5 to prohibit employers from considering prior salary, by itself, to justify any disparity in compensation. Existing law prohibits an employer from paying an employee at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.
Harassment Prevention Training
AB 1661 adds Article 2.4.5 to Chapter 2 of Part 1 of Division 2 of Title 5 of the Government Code, which requires local agency officials, including local elected officials, to receive two hours of sexual harassment prevention training and education within the first six months of taking office or commencing employment, and every two years thereafter. The requirements of this law apply only if a local agency provides any type of compensation, salary, or stipend to its local agency officials.
Revised Definition of Employee
AB 488 adds Section 12926.05 to California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), expanding the definition of “employee” to include any individual employed under a special license in a nonprofit sheltered workshop, day program or rehabilitation facility. A special license permits the employment of individuals with disabilities at a wage less than the legal minimum wage. The law authorizes such individuals to bring an action under FEHA for any form of harassment or discrimination prohibited by the act.
Unfair Immigration-Related Practices
SB 1001 creates Labor Code Section 1019.1, which addresses unfair immigration-related practices. Employers in the process of verifying that workers have the necessary documentation to work in the United States are prohibited from:
- requesting more or different documents than are required under federal law;
- refusing to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine by an employer;
- refusing to honor documents or work authorizations based on the specific status or term of status that accompanies the authorization to work; or
- reinvestigating or re-verifying an incumbent employee's authorization to work.
Per SB 1001, employees who suffer an unfair immigration-related practice can file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), and a violation can result in a penalty imposed by the Labor Commissioner of up to $10,000.
Employment Lawyers with Experience Fighting Discrimination and Retaliation
If you feel you have been discriminated against, or have questions about any of California's employment related laws, feel free to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Call toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or contact us via email.