Governor Brown has signed into law a host of California labor and employment bills that will take effect January 1, 2013. The following are highlights of some of the new laws applicable to California employers:
Assembly Bill No. 2386: Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), it is unlawful to engage in discriminatory practices on the basis of sex. This bill specifies that “sex,” for purposes of the act, includes breastfeeding or medical conditions related to breastfeeding.
Assembly Bill No. 1964: Under FEHA, it is unlawful to engage in discriminatory practices on the basis of religious belief or observance. This bill provides that religious dress or grooming practices are covered by these protections and must be reasonably accommodated. However, no accommodation is necessary if it would be an undue hardship on the conduct of business.
Assembly Bill No. 2674: This bill amends Labor Code section 1198.5 to specify that both current and former employees have a right to inspect and copy their personnel records. The new law also requires employers to maintain personnel records for at least three years after an employee’s termination. Finally, an employee is entitled to inspect his or her personnel file within 30 days of his or her written request. The employer must supply a form for the employee to make his or her written request if the employee asks for it.
Assembly Bill No. 1744: This bill requires temporary service employers (other than security services companies) to provide itemized information concerning the rate of pay and total hours worked for each assignment by a temporary employee pursuant to Labor Code section 226. Such employers are also required to provide the name, physical and mailing address, and telephone number of the main office of the entity for which the employee performs work.
Assembly Bill No. 2103: Overturning a 2011 California court opinion, this bill provides that the payment of a fixed salary to a non-exempt employee may not include anticipated overtime compensation, even by agreement. Instead, such a fixed salary is deemed payment of the employee’s regular non-overtime hours.
Assembly Bill No. 1255: If an employer fails to provide a wage statement, including accurate and complete information by which an employee can “properly and easily determine” certain key elements, an employee is deemed to suffer “injury” for purposes of the imposition of penalties. The certain key information includes: the amount of gross or net wages, all deductions, the name and address of the employer, and the name of the employee and the last four digits of his or her Social Security number or employee ID.
Assembly Bill No. 1844: This bill prohibits an employer from requiring or requesting an employee or applicant for employment: (1) to disclose a username or password for the purpose of accessing social media; (2) to access personal social media in the presence of the employer; or (3) to divulge the content of any personal social media. Similarly, an employer may not discharge, discipline, threaten to discharge or discipline, or otherwise retaliate against an employee or applicant for not disclosing the content of personal social media.
In light of these new rules, California employers should review their impacted policies and procedures to ensure timely compliance in 2013.