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New Laws Affecting Employment in California

Oct. 2, 2020

On September 30, 2020, Governor Newsom signed off on several bills that were passed by Legislature earlier in the year. A summary of those laws affecting California employees can be found below.

  • Retaliation and Whistleblower Protections (AB 1947): This bill extends the filing deadline for administrative retaliation complaints from 6 months to 1 year. More importantly, this bill allows workers to recover their attorneys fees if they prevail in a whistleblower retaliation action under Labor Code section 1102.5.

  • Family Leave (SB 1383): This bill expands the California Family Rights Act to cover all employers with 5 or more employees (currently covers employers with over 50 employees) and to additionally allow employees to use unpaid job protected leave to care for a domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law who has a serious health condition. For claims against employers with 5-19 employees, parties must participate in mediation through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing before a civil action can be filed.

  • Worker Misclassification and Exceptions to AB-5 (AB 2257): This bill would exempt from the 3-part ABC test for employment status certain occupations such as musicians, insurance inspectors, and competition judges, subject to specified conditions.

  • Pay Data Reporting to Close the Gender and Race Wage Gap (SB 973): This bill requires California employers with 100 employees or more to submit an annual pay data report to the state outlining the compensation and hours worked of its employees by gender, race, ethnicity, and job category. The purpose of this bill is to help close the gender wage gap, which has recently been highlighted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other notable bills signed into law by Governor Newsom include as follows:

  • AB 2992: Employers are prohibited from discharging, or discriminating or retaliating against, an employee, who is a victim of crime or abuse, for taking time off from work.

  • AB 685: Employers are required to provide written notice and instructions to employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at their worksite.

  • SB 1129: Defines "injury" for an employee to include illness or death resulting from COVID-19 for workers' compensation purposes.