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New California Employment-Related Laws

Published by on December 3, 2012

Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law numerous bills that affect California employers, employment law, and wage and hour law.  Below is a summary of several of these new laws. AB 1844.  Effective January 1, 2013, employers will be prohibited from requiring or requesting an employee or applicant disclose a user name or account password […]

Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law numerous bills that affect California employers, employment law, and wage and hour law.  Below is a summary of several of these new laws.

AB 1844.  Effective January 1, 2013, employers will be prohibited from requiring or requesting an employee or applicant disclose a user name or account password for the purpose of accessing personal social media, to access personal social media in the presence to the employer, or to divulge any personal social media information.  This law also prohibits an employer from discharging, disciplining, or retaliating against an employee or applicant for not complying with a request or demand by the employer that violates this law.

AB 1964.  Effective January 1, 2013, this law clarifies that religious dress and grooming practices are “beliefs and observances” covered by the protections under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) against religious discrimination.  The law provides that an accommodation of an individual’s religious dress or grooming practice that requires that individual to be segregated from the public or other employees is not a reasonable accommodation.  The law also states that an accommodation is not required if the accommodation would result in the violation of laws protecting civil rights.

AB 2103.  Effective January 1, 2013, this law will require that payment of a fixed salary to an non-exempt employee is deemed to provide compensation only for the employee’s regular, non-overtime hours, notwithstanding any private agreement to the contrary.

AB 2386.  Effective January 1, 2013, this law codifies that under FEHA, the term “sex” includes breastfeeding or medical conditions that relate to breastfeeding.

AB 2674.  Effective January 1, 2013, this law will expand an employee’s right to inspect his or her personnel file by requiring employers to furnish copies of personnel files to current and former employees.  Employers must provide copies or allow for inspection of an employee’s personnel file within 30 days of a request or be subject to a penalty of $750.  Employers must also create a form for personnel file requests, although employees are not required to use the form.  This law further requires that personnel files are maintained for three years following the termination of employment.

AB 2675.  Pursuant to AB 1396 (which was passed last year), effective January 1, 2013, when an employer employs an individual whose pay is based on commission, the employment contract must be in writing and set forth the method by which the commissions are to be computed and paid.   AB 2675 exempts from the requirements of AB 1396 the following: (1) short-term productivity bonuses, (2) temporary, variable incentive payments that increase, but do not decrease payments under the written contract, and (3) bonuses and profit sharing plans, unless based on a fixed percentage of sales or profits.

SB 1038.  This law eliminates the Fair Employment and Housing Commission (“FEHC”) and transfers its duties to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”).  Additionally, the law expands the powers of the DFEH as it relates to complaints, mediations, and prosecutions, and provides for mandatory dispute resolution at no cost to the parties involved.  The law also requires certain actions be brought in court by civil action rather than accusation by the FEHC.

SB 1255.  This law provides that an employee “suffers injury” for purpose of accessing penalties if an employer fails to provide a wage statement.  The law also sets out that an employee is deemed to “suffer injury” if the employers fails to provide accurate and complete information and the employee cannot promptly and easily determine from the wage statement alone the amount and manner in which the employer calculated the gross and net wages paid to the employee during the pay period, the deductions the employer made from the gross wages to determine the net wages paid to the employee during the pay period, and the name and address of the employer or legal entity that secured the services of the employer, or the name of the employee and the last four digits of his or her social security number or employee identification number.

The full text of each new California law can be accessed here.

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