Over the course of 2015, California lawmakers added more than a dozen new laws affecting the employer/employee relationship. Many of the new regulations officially take effect on January 1, 2016. Employers will be expected to follow new regulations from their effective date, so reviewing all new rules and requirements before the new year is important so companies have time to implement required changes.
Employees get many new benefits and protections from the new labor laws passed over the course of 2015, but must be aware of what their new rights are so they can take action in case their employer fails to comply.
New Employment Laws To Take Effect in 2016
Some of the major changes to the employer/employee relationships which go into effect in 2016 include the following:
- New protections against gender-based discrimination. Labor Code Section 1197.5 prohibits gender-based discrimination which results in pay inequality. This labor code section was amended by Senate Bill 358. The amendments alter the comparison standard and now prohibit wage discrimination not just when a male and female perform “equal work,” but also in situations where they perform “substantially similar work.” Employers are also restricted from prohibiting employees from disclosing their wages or inquiring about the wages of others. Finally, a new private cause of action was created to allow employees to file a wage and hour lawsuit to seek reimbursement of lost wages and reinstatement if they are discriminated against or if they are retaliated against for assisting in enforcing gender-discrimination laws.
- An expansion of the California Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA). A.B. 986 amended the Fair Housing Act to define the request of reasonable accommodations as a protected activity. The assembly bill was passed after a 2013 court decision in which the court held a request for accommodation was not by itself sufficient for a retaliation claim under the Fair Employment Housing Act. With the Amendment to FEHA, it becomes unlawful for employers to retaliate against workers who request reasonable accommodations, irrespective of whether such accommodations are granted.
- An expansion of protection for whistleblowers. Labor Codes section 98.6, 1102.5, and 6310 were amended to make clear that family members of whistleblowers are also protected from retaliation if a whistleblower complains to the Labor Commission, makes any internal or external complaints about legal violations, or complains about unsafe work conditions. Not only can employers not discriminate against the whistleblower or his family members, but any business entity that obtains or provides workers is prohibited from retaliation, including when a third party staffing agency is the direct employer.
- An expansion of the kin care leave laws. Labor Code section 223 was expanded by Senate Bill 679 to require employers to allow workers to use up to half of annual accrued sick leave for diagnosis and preventative care of the employee or the employee’s family member. Leave may also be used by employees who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking.
These are just a few of dozens of new rules and regulations. Employees who believe they were mistreated should consult with a legal professional to find out whether there is a law protecting them from their employer’s behavior.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
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