Legislative Update as of 1/29/2019
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AB 51 (Gonzalez D) Employment discrimination: enforcement.
Summary: Would prohibit a person from, as a condition of employment, continued employment, the receipt of any employment-related benefit, or as a condition of entering into a contractual agreement, prohibiting an applicant for employment, employee, or independent contractor from disclosing to any person an instance of sexual harassment that the employee or independent contractor suffers, witnesses, or discovers in the workplace or in the performance of the contract, or otherwise opposing any lawful practice, or from exercising any right or obligation or participating in any investigation or proceeding with respect to unlawful harassment or discrimination.
SB 17 (Umberg D) Civil discovery: sanctions.
Summary: Current law authorizes a court to impose sanctions on a party, person, or attorney in connection with conduct that is a misuse of the discovery process in a civil action, as specified. This bill would express the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would require a court to impose sanctions against any party, person, or attorney who engages in conduct that is a misuse of the discovery process in a civil action.
SB 41 (Hertzberg D) Civil actions: damages.
Summary: Current law authorizes a person who suffers a loss or harm to himself or herself, or his or her property, from an unlawful act or omission of another to recover monetary compensation, known as damages, from the person in fault. Current law specifies the measure of damages as the amount which will compensate for the loss or harm, whether anticipated or not, and requires the damages awarded be reasonable.This bill would prohibit the estimation, measure, or calculation of civil damages from being based on, or considering, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.
Discrimination & Civil Rights
AB 9 (Reyes D) Employment discrimination: limitation of actions.
Summary: The California Fair Employment and Housing Act makes specified employment and housing practices unlawful, including discrimination against or harassment of employees and tenants, among others. Current law authorizes a person claiming to be aggrieved by an alleged unlawful practice to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year from the date upon which the unlawful practice occurred, unless otherwise specified. This bill would extend the above-described period to 3 years for complaints alleging employment discrimination, as specified.
AB 160 (Voelpel R) Employment policy: voluntary veterans’ preference.
Summary: Would enact the Voluntary Veterans’ Preference Employment Policy Act to authorize a private employer to establish and maintain a written veterans’ preference employment policy, to be applied uniformly to hiring decisions, to give a voluntary preference for hiring or retaining a veteran over another qualified applicant or employee. The bill would provide that the granting of a veterans’ preference pursuant to the bill, in and of itself, shall be deemed not to violate any local or state equal employment opportunity law or regulation, including, but not limited to, the antidiscrimination provisions of California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
Family & Medical Leave
AB 196 (Gonzalez D) Paid family leave.
Summary: Current law establishes, within the state disability insurance program, a family temporary disability insurance program, also known as the paid family leave program, for the provision of wage replacement benefits to workers who take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a minor child within one year of birth or placement, as specified. This bill would state the Legislature’s intent to enact legislation that would expand the paid family leave program in order to provide a 100% wage replacement benefit for workers earning $100,000 or less annually.
SB 135 (Jackson D) Disability compensation: paid family leave.
Summary: Would express the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would strengthen California’s family leave laws and to create more equitable access to California’s family leave programs, as specified. The bill would also state various findings and declarations in that regard.
SB 142 (Wiener D) Employees: lactation accommodation.
Summary: Would require the California Building Standards Commission to adopt prescribed mandatory building standards for the installation of lactation space for employees in nonresidential buildings newly constructed or remodeled for workplace occupancy, as specified, when there is a tenant improvement project to the building and certain criteria are met.
Health & Safety
AB 26 (Rodriguez D) Emergency ambulance employees.
Summary: Would require an emergency ambulance provider to provide each emergency ambulance employee, who drives or rides in the ambulance, with body armor and safety equipment to wear during the employee’s work shift. The bill would also require the emergency ambulance employer to provide training to the emergency ambulance employee on the proper fitting and use of the body armor and safety equipment. The bill would not apply to the state or a political subdivision thereof.
AB 27 (Rodriguez D) Emergency Ambulance Employee Safety and Preparedness Act.
Summary: Would require every current emergency ambulance employee, on or before July 1, 2020, and every new employee hired on or after January 1, 2020, within 6 months of being hired, to attend a 6-hour training on violence prevention that includes, among other things, understanding types of anger, proven and effective verbal deescalation skills, and hands-on demonstrations, workshops, and role-playing scenarios. The bill would require an emergency ambulance employee, following the completion of the 6-hour violence prevention training, to receive a one-hour refresher course each calendar year thereafter.
AB 35 (Kalra D) Worker safety: blood lead levels: reporting.
Summary: Would require the State Department of Public Health to consider a report from a laboratory of an employee’s blood lead level at or above 25 micrograms per deciliter to be injurious to the health of the employee and to report that case within 5 business days to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. The bill would further provide that the above-described report would constitute a serious violation and subject the employer or place of employment to an investigation, as provided, by the division, and would require the division to make any citations or fines imposed as a result of the investigation publicly available on an annual basis.
SB 35 (Chang R) Human trafficking.
Summary: Would express the intent of the Legislature to establish a task force to combat human trafficking that would collect and organize data on the nature and prevalence of trafficking in persons in California and organize collaborative efforts between local and state governments and nongovernmental organizations for protecting victims of trafficking, among other, related duties.
Immigrant Employee Rights
SB 31 (Lara D) Courthouses: Privilege from civil arrest.
Summary: Would clarify the power of judicial officers to prevent activities that threaten access to courthouses, including by protecting the privilege from arrest at a courthouse. The bill would provide that no person shall be subject to civil arrest in a courthouse while attending a court proceeding or having legal business in the courthouse. The bill would also authorize the Attorney General to bring a civil action to obtain equitable and declaratory relief for a violation of this section, and it would allow a party in a successful action to enforce liability for a violation of this section to recover court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
AB 170 (Gonzalez D) Employment: sexual harassment: liability.
Summary: Would require a client employer to share with a labor contractor all civil legal responsibility and civil liability for harassment for all workers supplied by that labor contractor.
AB 171 (Gonzalez D) Employment: sexual harassment.
Summary: Would prohibit an employer from discharging or in any manner discriminating or retaliating against an employee because of the employee’s status as a victim of sexual harassment, as defined by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The bill would establish a rebuttable presumption of unlawful retaliation based on the employee’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, or stalking if an employer takes specific actions within 90 days following the date that the victim provides notice to the employer or the employer has actual knowledge of the status.
SB 71 (Leyva D) Political Reform Act of 1974: campaign expenditures: limitations.
Summary: The Political Reform Act of 1974 authorizes certain candidates and elective officers to establish a separate legal defense fund campaign account to defray attorney’s fees and other related legal costs incurred in the defense of the candidate or elective officer who is subject to one or more civil, criminal, or administrative proceedings arising directly out of the conduct of an election campaign, the electoral process, or the performance of the officers’ governmental activities and duties, as specified. This bill would prohibit the expenditure of funds in a legal defense fund campaign account to pay or reimburse a candidate or elected officer for attorney’s fees or other legal costs, as specified, in connection with claims of unlawful practices made pursuant to specified provisions of law.
Wage and Hour
AB 5 (Gonzalez D) Worker status: independent contractors.
Summary: Current law, as established in the case of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903 (Dynamex), creates a presumption that a worker who performs services for a hirer is an employee. Current law requires a 3-part test, commonly known as the “ABC” test, to establish that a worker is independent contractor. This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to include provisions within this bill would codify the decision in the Dynamex case and clarify its application.
AB 71 (Melendez R) Employment standards: independent contractors and employees.
Summary: Current case law establishes a three-part test, known as the “ABC” test, for determining whether a worker is considered an independent contractor for purposes of specified wage orders. Under this test, a worker is properly considered an independent contractor only if the hiring entity establishes; 1) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for performance of the work and in fact; 2) that the worker performs work outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and 3) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity. This bill would, instead, require a determination of whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor to be based on a specific multifactor test, including whether the person to whom service is rendered has the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired, and other identified factors.
AB 233 (Cooley D) Insurance: independent contractors.
Summary: Current case law creates a presumption that a worker who performs services for a hirer is an employee. Current case law requires a 3-part test to establish that a worker is an independent contractor, including that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in performing the work. This bill would clarify the application of the case law described above to persons licensed by the Department of Insurance to transact insurance in specified capacities by providing that those persons are not employees when they have entered into a written agreement with an insurer or organizational licensee that includes specified provisions, including that the worker is classified as an independent contractor, that each party has the right to terminate the agreement upon notice to the other party, and that the worker is responsible for the payment of necessary expenditures and applicable taxes.
AB 267 (Chu D) Employment of infants: entertainment industry.
Summary: Current law regulates the employment of minors in the entertainment industry and requires the written consent of the Labor Commissioner for a minor under 16 years of age to take part in certain types of employment. Current law requires specified certification from a physician and surgeon in order for an infant under the age of one month to be employed on any motion picture set or location. Existing law makes it a crime to violate the provisions regarding infant employment. This bill would expand the certification requirements for infants to cover any employment in the entertainment industry.
AB 271 (Cooper D) Civil service: Personnel Classification Plan: salary equalization.
Summary: Would require the Department of Human Resources to, by December 13, 2020, and every 2 years thereafter, evaluate all civil service classifications and prepare a detailed report on gender and ethnicity pay equity in each classification where there is an underrepresentation of women and minorities. The bill would require each state agency to submit specified information to the department about each state civil service certification within the agency. The bill would require the department to prepare a plan for each state agency to attain pay equity if a discrepancy is found and a specified plan to recruit, attract, and retain women and minorities into positions where there is an underrepresentation of those subgroups.
SB 1 (Atkins D) California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019.
Summary: Current state law regulates the discharge of air pollutants into the atmosphere. The Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act regulates the discharge of pollutants into the waters of the state. The California Safe Drinking Water Act establishes standards for drinking water and regulates drinking water systems. The California Endangered Species Act requires the Fish and Game Commission to establish a list of endangered species and a list of threatened species, and generally prohibits the taking of those species. This bill would require specified agencies to take prescribed actions regarding certain federal requirements and standards pertaining to air, water, and protected species, as specified.