Yankees vs. Dodgers. East Coast rap vs. West Coast rap. Skyscrapers vs. sprawl. Bagels vs. burritos. There’s no denying the rivalry between New York and California.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the Empire State and the Golden State are at it again—and this time, they’re competing to be the state with the most rigorous workplace harassment prevention laws.
Months after New York adopted the broadest anti-harassment regulations in US history, California has enacted its own batch of #MeToo-inspired legislation. Last October, outgoing governor Jerry Brown signed numerous workforce and labor-related bills into law.
If you have employees in California, take note of the following anti-harassment measures, which went into effect on January 1st:
- SB 1300 carves out protections for workplace harassment claims under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Among other things, the new law prohibits employers from requiring an employee to waive their rights to legal action or to sign non-disparagement or non-disclosure agreement “in exchange for a raise or bonus, or as a condition of employment or continued employment.”
- SB 1343 requires companies with 5 or more employees to provide anti-harassment training to all workers—not just supervisory personnel. The previous law applied only to companies with 50 or more employees, and exclusively covered supervisors.
- SB 820 prohibits employers from using language in sexual misconduct settlement agreements that would prevent the disclosure of facts related to an incident, other than names or payment amounts. In other words, when settling a sexual harassment case, an employer can no longer force an employee to keep all the details confidential.
- AB 3109 bans contract provisions that waive individuals’ rights to testify about alleged criminal conduct or sexual harassment. Note that the law only applies to subpoenas, court orders, and other situations in which an individual is required to give testimony.
- AB 2770 designates internal sexual harassment determinations and complaints as “privileged communications.” This means that, as long as a claim is based on “credible evidence” and filed “without malice, an employee who reports harassment can no longer be held liable for damages to the alleged harasser’s reputation.
- AB 2338 obligates talent agencies to provide performers ages 14 and up with educational information about sexual harassment, retaliation, and reporting, as well as nutrition and eating disorders. Parents and legal guardians of individuals between the ages of 14 and 17 must complete the same training.
- AB 3082 mandates the California Department of Social Services to develop harassment prevention training materials for in-home supportive services providers (such as nurses and caregivers for seniors and people with disabilities) and IHSS recipients.
- SB 970 and 9. AB 2034 both create new training and reporting requirements for workers to identify and address apparent human trafficking. SB 970 concerns hotel and motel employees, while AB 2034 applies to train and bus operators.
Believe it or not, these are just a few of the new employment laws now in effect in California. Don’t neglect your legal obligations. Contact us to get your workforce and compliance program up to date.