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BTB Annual Legislative Round-up (1 of 4)

December 6, 2017 by

With a Democrat-controlled super-majority, the California Legislature passed several important labor and employment bills during the 2017 session that Governor Brown recently signed into law. Most notably, there are new protections for immigrant and agricultural workers, workers with criminal convictions, and for gender pay-equality. In addition, the Legislature strengthened several existing laws that protect all workers. Here is a brief summary of the most notable changes grouped by subject. All laws are effective January 1, 2018, unless otherwise noted.


Regulation of Employment Applications

AB 168 − Salary History Prohibition

Prohibits all employers, including the Legislature, the state, and local governments, from seeking salary history information about an applicant for employment and requires an employer to provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant upon reasonable request. However, the law does not apply to salary history information disclosable to the public pursuant to federal or state law.

AB 1008 – Ban the Box

Commonly referred to as “Ban the Box”, this law makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer with 5 or more employees to include on any employment application a question that seeks the disclosure of the applicant’s conviction history or to inquire into or consider the conviction history of the applicant until that applicant has received a conditional offer. In addition, when conducting a conviction history background check, the employer may not consider, distribute, or disseminate information related to certain specified prior arrests, diversions, and convictions.

Under this law, an employer who intends to deny an applicant a position of employment because of the applicant’s conviction history is required to take certain mandated steps and provide notice to the applicant before it can reject the applicant.

SB 31 – Prohibition against Collecting Personal Religious Information

Existing law prohibits a state agency from including a question regarding an applicant’s race, sex, marital status, or religion in any application form for employment. This bill extends those protections by also prohibiting a state or local agency, or a public employee from providing or disclosing to the federal government personal information regarding a person’s religious beliefs, practices, or affiliation, when the information is sought for compiling a database of individuals based on religious belief, practice, or affiliation, national origin, or ethnicity for law enforcement or immigration purposes. The bill would also prohibit a state agency from using agency resources to assist with any government program compiling such a database, or from making state databases available in connection with an investigation or enforcement under such a program.


Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Laws

AB 46 – Expansion of the California Equal Pay Act to Public Sector Employers

Under current law, the California Equal Pay Act prohibits an employer from paying an employee wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of a different race or ethnicity or of the opposite sex for substantially similar work that requires the same skills, effort, and responsibility when performed under similar working conditions. Under AB 46, the California Equal Pay Act is expanded to include public sector employers.

SB 396 – Sexual Harassment Training Must Include Gender Identity

Amends the current requirement that employers with 50 or more employees provide sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees to require that this training cover harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. In addition, the bill requires employers to post information developed by DFEH regarding transgender rights in a prominent place in the workplace, along with other required postings.

AB 1710Protections against Military Service Discrimination

Prohibits discrimination in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment against military service members. It also prohibits employers from hindering or preventing service members from performing military service or from attending encampment, drill, or instruction if called upon to do so by the proper authority.

AB 2337Employer Notice re Discrimination against Victims of Domestic Violence

Requires employers to inform new employees of the existing prohibition on employment discrimination against victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking for taking time off work for purposes related to addressing domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

SB 295 – Sexual Harassment Training for Farm Labor Contractors

Under California law, farm labor contractors must be licensed. To obtain a license, the contractor must certify that certain employees have received sexual harassment prevention training. SB 295 expands the training requirements to require the training to be conducted in a language that can be understood by the employee. As part of a labor contractor’s license renewal, the contractor must include a list of materials used in the training and the total number of employees trained. The Labor Commissioner will aggregate this data and publish it on its website.


Employment Contracts

SB 1241 – California Jurisdiction of Employment Contracts

Prohibits employers from requiring California-based employees, as a condition of employment, to agree to adjudicate employment disputes outside of California or to waive the protections of California law for disputes arising in California. Under this bill, employment contracts which contain choice of law and forum selection provisions in violation are voidable at the employee’s option and are required to be adjudicated in California under California law. Provisions for injunctive relief and attorney’s fees are also included.

The material on this website is provided by Beeson, Tayer & Bodine for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented. Some of the articles are updated periodically, and are marked with the date of the last update. Again, readers should consult with their own legal counsel for the most current information and to obtain professional advice before acting on any of the information presented.