California Employee Rights
Both houses of the California Legislature are currently evaluating bills designed to expand rights of California workers. The current law-making session continues a trend of an increasing number of bills introduced to protect employees, especially in the areas of harassment, retaliation and the ability to file claims against employers. The employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley continuously monitor changes in California employment law and will provide more insight as bills such as the five below wind their way through the legislative process.
AB 1870 – The California Fair Employment and Housing Act currently specifies employment and housing practices unlawful, including discrimination against or harassment of employees and tenants, among others. Existing law authorizes a person claiming to be aggrieved by an alleged unlawful practice to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year from the date upon which the unlawful practice occurred, unless otherwise specified. This bill would extend the above-described period to 3 years for complaints alleging employment discrimination, as specified. The bill would make conforming changes in provisions that grant a person allegedly aggrieved by an unlawful practice who first obtains knowledge of the facts of the alleged unlawful practice after the expiration of the limitations period, as specified. Important to note, this bill is not meant to revive lapsed claims.
SB 224 – This bill would include within the elements in a cause of action for sexual harassment when the plaintiff proves, among other things, that the defendant holds himself or herself out as being able to help the plaintiff establish a business, service, or professional relationship with the defendant or a 3rd party. The bill would eliminate the element that the plaintiff prove there is an inability by the plaintiff to easily terminate the relationship. The bill would include an investor, elected official, lobbyist, director, and producer among those listed persons who may be liable to a plaintiff for sexual harassment. Under existing law, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing is responsible for receiving, investigating, conciliating, mediating, and prosecuting complaints alleging violations of specified civil rights. This bill would also make the department responsible for the enforcement of sexual harassment claims.
SB 1038 – Existing law prohibits discrimination and harassment in employment based on certain factors, including race, religious creed, gender, or sex. Existing law prohibits discharging or discriminating against a person who has opposed any practices prohibited by these provisions or has filed a complaint, testified, or assisted in any proceeding for a violation of these provisions. SB 1038 would impose personal liability under FEHA for retaliating against a person who has filed a complaint against the employee, testified against the employee, assisted in any proceeding, or opposed any prohibited practice.
SB 1300 – SB 1300 would enact the following actions: 1) amend FEHA by expanding an employer's potential liability, 2) prohibit a release of claims under FEHA or a nondisclosure agreement (with certain exceptions) in exchange for a raise or a bonus or as a condition of employment or continued employment, and 3) prohibit a prevailing defendant from being awarded fees and costs in certain circumstances, and 4) authorize an employer to provide bystander intervention training, as specified, to their employees.
SB 1343 – The California Fair Employment and Housing Act makes specified employment practices unlawful, including the harassment of an employee directly by the employer or indirectly by agents of the employer with the employer's knowledge. The act requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide at least 2 hours of prescribed training and education regarding sexual harassment, abusive conduct, and harassment based upon gender, as specified, to all supervisory employees within 6 months of their assumption of a supervisory position and once every 2 years, as specified. SB 1343 would expand sexual harassment prevention training requirements to employers with five or more employees and would require that Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) materials be made available in multiple languages.
California Employment Law
Leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley will continue to monitor bills that expand employee rights as they are heard in their chambers of origin and cross over into the other chamber and ultimately to Governor Brown. In the meantime, if you have any questions about California's wage and hour laws, contact Kingsley & Kingsley to speak with one of our experienced labor lawyers.
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