SACRAMENTO — The California Chamber of Commerce issued an updated list of new laws that will impact California employers.
The list, which appears below, includes recent changes to the pregnancy disability regulations and the disability discrimination and accommodation regulations. Other significant changes for 2013 include anti-discrimination protections, employee access to personnel records and employer access to personal social media accounts. Some changes relate specifically to certain industries including farm labor contractors and temporary services employers.
Unless specified, the following list of new legislation went into effect Jan. 1. The entire list is available at www.calchamber.com/newlaws2013/press.
Religion and Reasonable Accommodation
AB 1964 clarifies that Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) discrimination protections and reasonable accommodation requirements cover religious dress practices and religious grooming practices. It also specifies that segregating an individual from other employees or the public is not a reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs or observances.
Sex Discrimination and Breastfeeding
AB 2386 changes the definition of “sex” under FEHA for purposes of discrimination protections to include breastfeeding and related medical conditions.
Social Media and Personal Passwords
CalChamber-supported AB 1844 prohibits employers from requiring or requesting employees or job applicants to provide user names or passwords for personal social media accounts and from requesting an employee or applicant to divulge personal social media. There are limited exceptions, including an exception relating to employer investigations.
Inspection of Personnel Records
AB 2674 makes significant changes to the inspection and retention of personnel records, in the following areas: (1) who has the right to inspect or request copies of personnel files; (2) any deadlines for providing access to files; (3) where and how records must be made available; (4) an employer’s obligations to retain files; and (5) penalties for failure to comply.
Amended pregnancy disability regulations take effect December 30, 2012. The approved pregnancy disability regulations make significant changes to state law, including:A change to the definition of “four months.”An expanded definition of when a woman is “disabled by pregnancy.”Clarification of an employer’s responsibilities regarding the reasonable accommodation or transfer of employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.An expansion of protections to include that it is unlawful to discriminate against or harass an applicant or employee based on “perceived pregnancy.”
The regulations also make mandatory changes to Notices “A” and “B,” which provide information for employees about their rights and responsibilities under pregnancy disability leave (Notice “A”) and the California Family Rights Act (Notice “B”).
Disability Discrimination and Accommodation
Amended disability discrimination and accommodation regulations take effect December 30, 2012. The changes to the disability regulations include an expansion of the definitions of “mental” and “physical” disability and a detailed description of the interactive process and the obligations of both the employer and the employee during that process. The amended regulations include specific examples of what constitutes a reasonable accommodation, including a discussion of when a leave of absence might be an appropriate accommodation.
Itemized Wage Statements/Temporary Service Employers
AB 1744 is effective July 1, 2013. It relates to itemized wage statement and wage notice requirements and requires specified information from temporary service employers.
Penalties for Wage Statement Violations
SB 1255 amends the Labor Code to specifically define an “injury” for purposes of violating the itemized wage statement statute. Employers are required to provide specified information to employees on a wage statement each time wages are paid. An employee who “suffers an injury” as a result of an employer knowingly or intentionally failing to comply with the statute is entitled to recover damages against the employer.