California has finalized all new employment laws for 2020.  Most of the new employment laws are are effective on January 1, 2020.  In my prior post I wrote about a few of the new laws (click here to view), but now that the legislative year is closed, I wanted to cover five additional key employment laws that California employers need to understand and be aware of going into 2020:

AB 25 – Employees’ Personal Information Excluded From California Consumer Privacy Act Until January 1, 2021

This bill excludes employees and prospective employees from the “Consumer” definition under the California Consumer Privacy Act until January 1, 2021.  The law exempts any individuals “acting as a job applicant to, an employee of, owner of, director of, officer of, medical staff member of, or contractor of that business.”  Therefore, employers have one additional year to comply with the requirements of the CCPA pertaining to applicants’ and employees’ information.

AB 25 was passed to assist in clarifying some aspects of the CCPA.  The law was passed in 2018, and is meant to give “consumers” certain knowledge about what data companies are collecting about them, and the right to request that the data be deleted, in addition to other rights.  “Consumers” was defined so broadly, that it has encompassed job applicants and employees.

AB 749 – Ban on No-Rehire Provisions in Settlement Agreements

AB 749 prohibits and invalidates any provisions in settlement agreements entered into on or after January 1, 2020 that prevent workers from obtaining future employment with the settling employer or its affiliated companies.

The law applies to any employees who have filed a claim: (1) against the employer in court, (2) before an administrative agency, (3) in an alternative dispute resolution forum, or (4) through the employer’s internal complaint process.  Therefore, if the employee has complained internally, and a severance agreement is reached with the employee without any litigation being filed, the employer would still be restricted from placing a no-rehire provision in the severance agreement.

The law does not prohibit or otherwise restrict an employer from preventing an employee from obtaining future employment if the employer has made a good faith determination that the person engaged in sexual harassment or sexual assault.

SB 142 – Lactation Accommodation

SB 142 expands an employer’s duties and responsibilities in providing lactation accommodation to those employees who need to express breast milk.  This bill mandates employers to provide a lactation room or location, not a bathroom, that:

  1. Is in close proximity to the employee’s work area;
  2. Shielded from view;
  3. Free from intrusion while the employee is expressing milk;
  4. Safe, clean and free of hazardous materials;
  5. Contains a surface to place a breast pump and personal items;
  6. Contains a place to sit;
  7. Has access to electricity; and,
  8. The employer must provide access to a sink with running water and a refrigerator for storing milk in close proximity to the employee’s working space

Additionally, the bill requires employers to develop and implement a lactation policy.  Such lactation policy must include, among other things, a statement about an employee’s right to request lactation accommodation and a statement about an employee’s right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for an employer’s failure to provide the accommodation.

The bill equates a denial of lactation break time or space to a violation of a rest period, thus subjecting the employer to a $100 penalty per violation.

Employers with 50 or fewer employees that demonstrate that this law would impose an undue hardship (such as being too difficult or expensive) may be exempted from SB 142’s requirements.

SB 188 – Hairstyle Discrimination

Known as the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), SB 188 expands the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s definition of race to include traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and protective hairstyles.  The bill defines “protective hairstyles” as “braids, locks, and twits.”  The law prohibits workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists and locks.

SB 707 – Arbitration Agreements Fees and Costs

SB 707 provides that an employer’s failure to pay costs and fees associated with an arbitration within 30 days of the due date would result in breach of the arbitration agreement, thereby waiving the right to compel arbitration.  The bill provides that the employee would, in turn, be able to withdraw the claim from arbitration and prosecute his or her claim in court.