New California Employment Laws Are on The Way

With the end of the 2018 legislative sessions looming at the end of August, many significant Employment-law related bills are either on the Governor’s desk or will be in the coming days.

One bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 2282, which was just signed by Governor Brown, makes significant changes and clarifications to the recently enacted Salary History law (California Labor Code section 432.3). As you may remember, Section 432.3 prohibits employers from asking applicants about their salary histories during the interview process. One new change under the amended law, would now allow employers to ask potential applicants about their salary expectations specifically as opposed to their salary histories. Under the current law, if the applicant voluntarily discloses their salary history during their response, then no violation would occur. However, the danger is now that certain follow-up questions regarding the ‘salary expectations’ topic (e.g. what is your salary expectation based on?) may cross a fine-line depending on the eye of the beholder. No doubt that HR may now have to provide a “script” of permissible questions to ensure that this delicate line is not violated by interviewers not classically-trained in the nuances of this ever-evolving law.

Too numerous to account in a single post, Employers will have their work cut out for them as they once again will have to adjust their policies and procedures next year. Another potential law, Assembly Bill 3080 would essentially ban the use of mandatory arbitration agreements by employers in the employment context. Despite the fact that the proponents of this bill have introduced it in reaction to the #MeToo movement, Assembly Bill 3080 would prohibit mandatory arbitration not only of any sexual harassment claims, but any employment discrimination claims or wage and hour claims under the Labor Code. A similar bill was vetoed several years ago by Governor Brown on the grounds that this state law would be preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act, the landmark federal law authorizing such agreements. It remains to be seen if the ongoing of the #MeToo movement will change the Governor’s mind this time.

Other bills that are on their way include: a potential ban on the use of confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in settlements involving sexual harassment claims (SB 820); mandatory sexual harassment training essentially for businesses employing 5 or more employees (SB 1343); and a massive revamp of the state’s discrimination laws that expands numerous protections of employees against harassment or discrimination (SB 1300); among other laws. Look out for further articles as these new laws are passed over the coming days and months.

Sergio H. Parra is the head of the JRG’s labor and employment department. If you have a question concerning your company’s employment-related matter, please feel free to contact Sergio H. Parra (sergio@jrgattorneys.com) or at 831-269-7094.

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