The California Legislature passed and Governor Brown approved the following new statutes impacting California employment law that shortly take effect in 2014.
Employment Discrimination – FEHA amendment prohibits discrimination on account of military or veteran status
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) prohibits discrimination against employees on account of race, religion, gender and other protected categories. AB 566 amended FEHA to add “military and veteran status” as additional protected categories. Existing federal and state laws protect employees in military service and veterans from discrimination; now, FEHA protection and remedies will be available to such employees. Employers are, however, permitted to inquire about military or veteran status for the purpose of awarding a veteran’s preference where such preferences are allowed by law.
Leaves of Absences
Time off and reasonable accommodations must be afforded to victims of stalking (in addition to existing protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault)
Existing law protects employees who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault from discrimination or retaliation for taking time off to appear in court or to obtain legal relief to ensure their health, safety or welfare. SB 400 extends such protections to victims of stalking. In addition, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to victims of stalking that would increase the safety of the victim while at work, such as implementing additional safety measures (for example, a transfer, reassignment, modified schedule, changed work telephone and work station, and the like).
Required time off (and other reasonable accommodations) that must be afforded to victims now applicable to an expanded list of crimes
The current law prohibits discrimination or retaliation against an employee who is a victim of a felony crime and who takes time off to attend judicial proceedings related to that crime. AB 288 expands the list of covered crimes including victims of a crime involving driving under the influence and crimes involving violence (not limited to crimes charged as a felony). In addition, the protection to attend judicial proceedings has been expanded to cover delinquency proceedings, sentencing, post-conviction release hearings, and the like.
Time off for volunteer fire and law enforcement training expanded to cover emergency rescue training
Presently, employers who employ 50 or more employees must allow an employee who is a volunteer firefighter to take a leave of absence of up to 14 days for firefighting training. AB 11 expands this leave of absence right to reserve peace officers and emergency rescue personnel to attend law enforcement and emergency rescue training.