Four hot mid-year topics in California employment law

by Thompson Coburn LLP

Thompson Coburn LLP

As California sizzles under scorching temperatures, state and local governments have turned up the heat on employers. Employers should be aware of and make sure they are in compliance with important legislative changes effective July 1, 2017, in the Golden State: 

DFEH Transgender Regulations

New Department of Fair Employment and Housing regulations that took effect on July 1, 2017, specifically address protections for transgender persons, including equal access to facilities. 

While California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act already specifically protected people who identify as transgender, the new regulations expand on the exiting protections. The new regulations: 

  • Specify that it is unlawful to discriminate against the individual who is transitioning, has transitioned or is perceived to be transitioning. 
  • Provide that employers must honor an employee’s request to be identified by a preferred gender, name or pronoun, including gender-neutral pronouns. 
  • Prohibit an employer from making inquiries that directly or indirectly identify an individual on the basis of sex, gender identity or gender expression. Employers cannot inquire about or require documentation or proof of an individual’s sex, gender, gender identity or gender expression as a condition of employment. 
  • Provide that employers must provide equal access to comparable, safe and adequate facilities without regard to the sex of the employee. All employees have the right to use a facility that corresponds to the employees’ gender identity or gender expression, regardless of the employees’ assigned sex at birth. 
  • And, importantly, the term “facility” is broader than bathrooms. The term “facility” is meant to encompass other types of employer facilities, such as an employee locker room with a showering area. 

Minimum Wage Increases

Several California local governments have increased the minimum wage effective July 1, 2017: 


For Employers with 55 or Fewer Employees: $14/hour

For Employers with 56 or More Employees: $15.20/hour

Los Angeles City

For Employers with 26 or More Employees: $12/hour

For Employers with 25 or Fewer Employees: $10.50/hour

Los Angeles County (Unincorporated Areas)

For Employers with 26 or More Employees: $12/hour


For Employers with 26 or More Employees: $12/hour

For Employers with 25 or Fewer Employees: $10.50/hour


For Employers with 26 or More Employees: $12/hour

For Employers With 25 or Fewer Employees: $10.50/hour

San Francisco


San Jose


San Leandro


Santa Monica

For Employers with 26 or More Employees: $12/hour

For Employers with 25 or Fewer Employees: $10.50/hour

Criminal History Regulations

California’s new criminal history regulations reiterate existing prohibitions on the use of criminal history information in employment decisions and impose additional restrictions. 

California employers cannot use criminal history information in employment decisions if doing so would have an adverse impact on a protected class. Hiring decisions based on an applicant’s criminal history must be clearly related to the successful performance on the job and in the workplace. The new regulations also require employers to notify individuals who were screened out because of their criminal history and give them the opportunity to provide information showing why they should not be excluded. 

Notice Regarding Victim Leave Rights

Employers with 25 or more employees must provide new employees with a written notice about the rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, to take time off from work for medical treatment and legal proceedings.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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