In response to the recent high-profile allegations of sexual harassment following the #MeToo campaign, the California legislature passed Senate Bill 224 (SB-224) to expand existing protections of employees and applicants from sexual harassment in the workplace. In addition to the Fair Employment and Housing Act's (FEHA) protection, Civil Code section 51.9 of the Unruh Act imposes liability for sexual harassment occurring within a non-employment context involving a business, service, or professional relationship.
The California legislature recently passed Senate Bill 970 (SB 970) in an effort to combat human trafficking. SB 970 added Section 12950.3 to the Government Code and amended the Federal Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA already requires employers to provide sexual harassment training to their employees but is now taking it a step further with some employers.
Both men and women can be victims of gender discrimination if they apply for jobs traditionally held by the opposite sex. For instance, if a man in California decides to be a housekeeper, he may have a harder time getting the job because of his gender. The same could be true of a woman who wants to be a janitor or work in another industry dominated by males.
Under Assembly Bill 3109 (AB-3109), any contract or settlement agreement will be deemed void and unenforceable if it contains a provision waiving a party's right to testify regarding criminal conduct or sexual harassment by the other party or the other party's employees or agents in an administrative, legislative or judicial proceeding.
California employers were already required to provide employees with a reasonable break time and a reasonable room or other location, "other than a toilet stall," for the purposes of expressing milk. That, however, is no longer enough thanks to the passage of Assembly Bill 1976 (AB-1976). Employers are now required to make reasonable efforts to provide employees with use of a room or other location, other than a bathroom, for purposes of expressing milk.
The legislative gains advanced by the LGBTQ community in California have spread all the way to the nation's capital. With the Democrats taking control of the 116th Congress on Jan. 3, they voted to update the rules for employment at the House of Representatives by banning job discrimination against LGBTQ people. A representative who is an open member of the LGBTQ demographic pushed for the change.
California employers may need to revisit their sexual-harassment-prevention training to ensure compliance with the newly enacted Senate Bill 1343 (SB 1343). Prior to SB 1343, only businesses employing 50 or more workers were required to provide sexual-harassment-prevention training to supervisory employees.
Sexual harassment and/or discrimination settlement agreements have often included confidentiality provisions or non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) prohibiting victims from disclosing terms of settlement and the underlying facts of their claim. Beginning January 1, 2019, however, any settlement agreement containing an NDA clause will be considered void.
On January 1, 2019, the minimum wage in California increased to $12 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $11 per hour for employees with 25 or fewer employees*.