California has enacted several new employment laws & January Seminar “California Law for Texas Employers”

By October 9, 2018News

It’s that time of year again, and California has enacted several new laws that go into effect on January 1, 2019 or thereafter. Governor Brown vetoed the most high-profile law, which would have prohibited arbitration of employment claims, as well as other measures. However, several important It’s that time of year again, and California has enacted several new laws that go into effect on January 1, 2019 or thereafter. Governor Brown vetoed the most high-profile law, which would have prohibited arbitration of employment claims, as well as other measures. However, several important laws will be going to effect, which are set forth below.

These laws and other important developments in California employment law, including a game-changing court decision on the classification of employees vs. independent contractors, will be covered at our fifth annual seminar, “California Law for Texas Employers,” which will be held on January 22, 2019 – please save the date! At the seminar, both new and existing California laws will be covered, as well as what the new laws mean for Texas employers with employees in California.

Confidentiality Clauses in Settlement Agreements: For cases in which sexual harassment, sexual assault or sex discrimination has been alleged, a new law prohibits any settlement agreement from prohibiting disclosure of “factual information” related to the claim.

Sexual harassment training: California has expanded which employers and employees must receive sexual harassment training. Beginning on January 1, 2020, all employers with five or more employees will be required to provide two hours of sexual harassment training, and one hour to non-supervisory employees, and every two years after that. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing will be required to provide an online training course that meets all the requirements of such trainings.

Sweeping sexual harassment changes: California has amended several sections of the anti-discrimination code to clarify California law on sexual harassment and other issues. Comprising several discrete parts, SB 1300 among other things prohibits employers from requiring employees to release claims or sign certain non-disparagement agreements in exchange for a bonus, raise, or continued employment; extends employer liability to any kind of harassment by third parties (not just sexual harassment as under existing law), so long as the applicable standard for liability is met; adds statements of legislative intent regarding sexual harassment law, including that harassment claims should rarely be dismissed at the “summary judgment” stage; and make other changes making it easier for employees to bring claims of sexual harassment.

Lactation accommodation: California already has a lactation accommodation law, but instead of requiring employers to make “reasonable efforts” to provide a location other than a toilet seat for lactation, new law requires that the location should be something other than a bathroom and should generally be a permanent location. Temporary locations are allowed if (1) the employer is unable to provide a permanent location due to operational, financial, or space limitations; (2) the temporary location is private and free from intrusion while being used for lactation purposes; and (3) the temporary location is not used for other purposes while being used for lactation.

Paid family leave: California has a paid family leave law, which effective January 1, 2021, will be expanded to provide benefits to employees who take time off for reasons related to being called to active duty or for a close family member being so called.

Sexual harassment outside of the employment relationship: California law already prohibits sexual harassment in “professional relationships” (defined simply as a “business, service, or professional relationship between the plaintiff and defendant”) but importantly requires that the plaintiff show an inability to easily terminate the relationship. California law will now exclude the requirement that the plaintiff show an inability to easily terminate the relationship. This will make it easier for independent contractors to bring claims of sexual harassment.

Compliments and gratitude for this information provided by Scott Brutocao of Cornell, Smith, Mierl, Brutocao, Burton (Austin, TX)

cornellsmith.com

Laurie Howell

About Laurie Howell

Laurie is a Co-Founder and Principal of Austin HR.