2023 was a big year for California’s state legislature. From crime and healthcare to housing and schools, California’s legislators passed a bevy of new laws, including many that will significantly impact workers. Though some of these laws won’t be effective for a few more months, many have already taken effect. We discuss the most significant ones below.
Crackdown Against Noncompete Agreements
California has long been a leader in the fight against noncompete agreements, which restrain worker mobility and suppress wages. With the passage of SB 699, however, the state has taken its fight to another level, making most noncompete agreements unenforceable “regardless of where and when the contract was signed” and “regardless of whether the contract was signed and the employment was maintained outside of California.”
In practice, this means that out-of-state companies intending to enforce noncompete agreements against employees or former employees seeking work in California will be unable to do so, barring some exceptions.
Unpaid Leave for Reproductive Losses
SB 848 allows California’s workers to take up to five days of unpaid leave following a “reproductive loss event.” The law defines such events as “the day or, for a multiple-day event, the final day of a failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or an unsuccessful assisted reproduction.” The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for taking reproductive loss leave.
More Paid Sick Leave
Due to the passage of SB 616, California’s workers now have the right to accrue and use up to five days (or 40 hours) of paid sick leave. The state’s workers were previously guaranteed a minimum of three paid sick leave days.
Protections for Cannabis Users
AB 2188 was actually passed after the 2022 legislative session but did not take effect until this month. The law prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of cannabis use “off the job and away from the workplace,” with some exceptions.
Similarly, a law from this past legislative session, SB 700, prohibits employers from requesting information from job applicants about their prior use of cannabis. The law also prohibits employers from using information obtained from an applicant’s criminal history about their prior cannabis use, with some exceptions.
For more on the latest developments in employment law, visit our blog here. If you believe your employer may have violated workplace laws, click here to get in touch with our office.
2022 was a big year for employment law in California, with Governor Gavin Newsom signing a slew of employment bills into law that will improve protections and conditions for the state’s workers. Now that the Governor has finished signing new laws for the year, Teukolsky Law would like to take a moment to review the progress that’s been made for California’s workers.
(All bills take effect on January 1, 2023, unless otherwise noted.)
Assembly Bill 1041
AB 1041 allows employees to take paid sick leave and family leave to care for a “designated individual.” California law previously allowed employees to take family leave only for family members, whereas AB 1041 allows employees to take time off to care for “chosen family,” or anyone they designate at the time they request leave.
Assembly Bill 1949
AB 1949 amends California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to require that employers grant their employees at least 5 days of unpaid bereavement leave, or time off for the death or funeral of a family member. Previously, California law did not guarantee any time off for the death of a family member, which meant that an employee who took time off to attend a funeral could be fired.
Assembly Bill 2188
AB 2188 prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees on the basis of cannabis during their off-work hours. AB 2188 will take effect on January 1, 2024. We covered this bill in a previous post, which is here.
Senate Bill 836
SB 836 reinstates a law that protects a person’s immigration status from disclosure in public court proceedings. This protection stopped employers from using a worker’s immigration status to deter the worker from bringing legal claims against the employer. It ended at the beginning of 2022, and this bill reinstates it. SB 836 is already in effect.
Senate Bill 1162
SB 1162 requires companies of 100 or more employees to submit annual pay data reports broken down by race and gender to California’s Civil Rights Department. This reporting will assist the State in combating pay disparities along race and gender lines. This bill would also require employers with 15 or more employees to provide a salary range on all job postings. You can learn more about this bill in a previous post of ours here.
Congratulations to the Governor, California’s state legislature, and all of the groups that worked to get these bills passed into law, including the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), which sponsored all of these bills.
If you believe your employer is behaving unlawfully and want to get in touch with Teukolsky Law, click here.
Lauren Teukolsky was quoted in a September 19th article by Bloomberg Law on AB 2188, a recently signed bill in California that prohibits employers from discriminating against workers who use cannabis in their off-work hours. Once the bill goes into effect on January 1, 2024, it will be illegal for California employers to make any employment decisions based on an employee’s use of cannabis “off the job and away from the workplace,” according to the law’s text. This means, for example, that an employer may not fire an employee who used cannabis use when they were off the job and away from work. Hiring decisions will be limited in this manner as well.
The law will not apply to workers in building and construction trades or those holding positions that require a federal background clearance. Also, the bill will not permit employees to possess, to be impaired by, or to use, cannabis on the job.
Governor Newsom’s signing of the bill represents a huge victory for many of California’s workers. Even though recreational cannabis has been legal in the state since 2018, and medicinal cannabis has been legal since 1996, California’s laws and cannabis testing technology are only just beginning to catch up. Standard drug tests still screen for substances in the body that may be present days or even weeks since an individual used cannabis. This means that, before AB 2188 takes effect, a worker or job applicant could still be fired or denied employment for having used cannabis during their own free time, weeks prior to any test being administered.
Some employer-side attorneys have suggested that AB 2188 inappropriately amends California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to afford cannabis users the same protections as minorities or other protected classes. Ms. Teukolsky counters that notion. As stated in the Bloomberg Law article:
“[D]iscipline against those who smoke or ingest marijuana disproportionately affects workers of color, said Lauren Teukolsky, who represents workers in court. It was one of the reasons Amazon.com Inc. stopped drug testing during the hiring process. The new law shielding marijuana consumers ‘is entirely consistent with FEHA’s aim of eliminating discrimination against people of color in the workplace,’ Teukolsky said in an email.”
To read the Bloomberg Law Article in its entirety, click here. If you believe your employer is behaving unlawfully and want to get in touch with Teukolsky Law, click here.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.