Five More Laws California Employers Need to Understand in 2017
As California labor laws change, it is important that you – whether an employer or employee – understand what the changes entail so that you may better understand your rights in the face of a dispute. Here are five more laws that California employers and employees need to be aware of this new year.
Amendments to the Fair-Pay Act (SB1063 and AB1676)Until recently, the Fair-Pay Act prohibited employers from paying an employee any less than someone with equal skill based on gender. This act has been expanded to include the discrimination in pay based on race or ethnicity and for substantially similar work.
However, if an employer is able to show that the wage difference between two employees is based on a seniority system, a merit system, or a system that measures earnings based on factors outside of a person's race, ethnicity, or gender (such as education, training, or experience), then the employer has every right to offer disproportionate pay. However, such a system had to have been in place for a significant amount of time; they could not have implemented it upon the hire or promotion of a person of a minority class.
Additionally, AB1676 prohibits employers from using a person's prior salary to justify a discrepancy in pay.
Single-User Bathrooms (AB1732)Beginning on March 1 of this year, all single-user restrooms in a place of business or public space must be marked as all-gender toilet facilities. After the March 1 deadline, inspectors will be given permission to ensure that California businesses are in compliance with AB1732.
Unfair Immigration-Related Policies (SB1001)Under California's new immigration-related policy, employers are expressly prohibited from requesting more or different documents than are required under law, refusing to honor documents that appear to be legitimate upon face value, refusing to honor documents or work authorizations that are based upon a specific status or term of status, or attempting to reverify a person's authorization to work in the U.S. after receiving valid proof of authorization from the employee him or herself. If an employer is guilty of any of the following, the employee may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner, who will then impose a fine of up to $10,000 on the offending employer.
Employment Disputes (SB1241)For all contracts between California employees and employers created and signed after Jan. 1, 2017, employers cannot request or require an employee who lives and works in California to travel outside of the state to settle an employment dispute. Additionally, they cannot deny a worker the protection that California's new and existing labor laws provide, even if the employer is based outside of the state. It is important to bear in mind that this provision only applies to contracts that were created on or after Jan. 1, 2017.
Employee Rights Regarding Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Sexual Assault (AB2337)Under AB2337, an employee has every right to take the time he or she needs to recover from an instance of domestic violence or sexual assault, or to obtain the protection and privacy needed after an incident of stalking. If an employer tries to retaliate against an employee who takes time off for any of the aforementioned situations, they would be in violation of the law and subject to appropriate penalties.
This law only applies to employers with 25 or more employees. Employers of that size must make their employees aware of their rights by distributing a notice to all existing employees and new hires.