As the 2019 legislative year is about to come to a close, there are a number of critical labor and employment proposals still making their way to Governor Newsom’s desk. With just four short weeks remaining for the Legislature to pass bills, there will be a flurry of activity as everyone watches to see which bills cross the finish line on or before the September 13 deadline.
Governor Newsom recently signed legislation to provide that prohibited employment discrimination based on race under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) also includes discrimination based on hair texture and protective hair styles. This new law goes into effect on January 1, 2020. California employers will need to review workplace grooming standards in order to ensure compliance with the law.
A measure currently pending in the California Legislature, and garnering wide bipartisan support, would provide that prohibited employment discrimination based on race under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) also includes discrimination based upon hair texture and hairstyles. If enacted into law, this bill will require California employers to re-evaluate workplace grooming standards applicable to their work sites in order to ensure compliance with the law.
February 22 was the last day to introduce new legislative proposals for the 2019 California legislative year. A whopping 2,576 bill were introduced before the deadline, making for an extremely busy legislative year ahead. Although new ideas can be added later through the “gut and amend” process, we now have a fairly clear sense of the labor and employment issues the California legislature will be confronting in 2019.
December 3 was the first day of the new legislative session in California. It was a day of festivities and ceremony, as new members were sworn into office and Democrats had their first taste of the “super-duper majority” dominance in both houses of the legislature.
While much of the attention this midterm election has been focused on Congress and federal issues - the “blue wave” and a “referendum” on the Trump presidency - California employers know all too well that employment and labor policy is largely being driven at the state and local level. The split in Congress between the Republican-led Senate and the Democrat-controlled House means that we can expect continued gridlock and lack of significant federal legislation on employment issues.
As we have covered extensively, the California Supreme Court dropped a proverbial bomb earlier this year in the Dynamex case when it adopted a new legal standard known as the “ABC Test,” making it much more difficult for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors. A few days ago, a California Court of Appeal held that the new test is limited to claims arising under the California Wage Orders, and that other claims continue to be governed by the prior (and more employer-friendly) standard known as the Borello test. This holding, if it stands, is good news for employers. However, it’s not all treats for employers on this Halloween. The new case has a few tricks of its own, as the good news appears to be tempered by some other less-favorable positions.
This past Sunday (September 30) represented the deadline for Governor Brown’s final actions on legislative measures, and his final term as California’s governor will come to an end in a few short months.
On September 22, Governor Brown signed SB 1402, a bill that establishes joint and several liability for customers who contract with or use port drayage motor carriers who have unpaid wage, tax and workers’ compensation liability. SB 1402 is effective January 1, 2019.
On September 20, Governor Brown signed AB 2605, which provides that petroleum facility employees in safety-sensitive positions and are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement are exempt from the requirement that employees be relieved of all duty during rest periods. The bill contained an urgency clause, which means it went into effect immediately upon signing.