Recap at Summer Break: Employment Bills Remain
A review of action on major employment-related legislation for business before the Legislature began its summer recess on July 6 shows both good and disappointing outcomes for the employer community.
On the plus side was the passage of a CalChamber-sponsored job creator that enables businesses to avoid hiring repeat sexual harassment offenders. AB 2770 (Irwin; D-Thousand Oaks) codifies case law to ensure victims of sexual harassment and employers are not sued for defamation by the alleged harasser when a complaint of sexual harassment is made and the employer conducts its internal investigation.
In addition, strong opposition from the CalChamber and its coalitions of business/industry groups and local chambers of commerce helped stop several job killer bills or provided pressure to secure amendments removing the more onerous provisions of job killers and other CalChamber-opposed proposals.
Still, a number of employment-related job killers continue to move in the Legislature.
Many positive and negative proposals will face critical hearings in the fiscal committees of both the Senate and Assembly when legislators return from their summer break in August.
The following list summarizes CalChamber’s top priority employment-related bills — including bills related to immigration, safety and health and legal reform — and their status as of July 6, when the Legislature began its summer recess.
Within each subject area, the list presents bills in order of priority with the highest priorities at the top.
CalChamber will publish a second status report in September, showing the status of priority legislation when the Legislature begins its final recess on August 31.
September 30 is the last day for the Governor to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature and in the Governor’s possession on or after September 1.
CalChamber will publish its final status report, showing the ultimate fate of bills sent to the Governor this year, in October.
Dates listed are the date the bill was assigned to a committee, the latest date of committee action, the next hearing date or when the bill reached the floor, unless action is stated.
Download a Print Friendly PDF report of the entire bill list here.
- New Labor Code Penalties. AB 2732 (Gonzalez Fletcher; D-San Diego) creates new onerous requirements for employers to provide a worker bill of rights document to all employees, have them sign it, give them a copy of the signed document and keep the original for three years. Non-compliance with these provisions could result in penalties up to $10,000. Oppose. Senate Appropriations Hearing 8/6/18
- Foreign Labor Contractors: Agriculture. AB 1913 (Kalra; D-San Jose) regulates agriculture foreign labor contractors on top of currently comprehensive rules regulating recruitment and employment. Oppose. Assembly Floor 5/25/18; Failed Deadline
Industrial Safety and Health
- Hotel Worker Panic Buttons. AB 1761 (Muratsuchi; D-Torrance) creates unworkable requirements for paid leave, allows for a patchwork of state and local rules and unnecessary signage in regards to providing protection for hotel employees working alone and the provision of panic buttons. Job killer status removed due to May 9, 2018 amendments, but CalChamber remains opposed unless amended. Oppose Unless Amended/Former Job Killer 2018. Senate Appropriations Hearing 8/6/18
- Usurps Cal/OSHA Priorities. AB 2963 (Kalra; D-San Jose) requires Cal/OSHA to treat as a serious violation a rule that does not constitute any violation of Cal/OSHA rules, and redirects Cal/OSHA resources, which will undermine existing Cal/OSHA priorities. As a result of a blood lead level of employees reported to the Department of Public Health, the bill requires a workplace inspection by Cal/OSHA within three days, as if a serious violation has been reported where none exists. Oppose. Senate Appropriations Hearing 8/6/18
- Expensive Public Database. AB 2334 (Thurmond; D-Richmond), before amendments, sought to publicly shame employers by disclosing for public review on a searchable website, each employer’s injury and illness records, that can be misconstrued and distorted in a manner that does not reflect employers’ commitment to the safety of their employees while providing no advancement of worker safety. Opposition removed due to May 25, 2018 amendments. No Position. Senate Appropriations Hearing 8/6/18
- Valley Fever Awareness. AB 1789 (Salas; D-Bakersfield) creates a common sense approach to alert construction employees about Valley Fever in areas where it is most commonly contracted by creating a framework for employers to provide Valley Fever Awareness training to all construction employees in Valley Fever-prone areas of the state. Support. Held in Assembly Appropriations Suspense File 4/4/18; Failed Deadline
Labor and Employment
- Significant Expansion of Harassment Discrimination and Retaliation Liability. SB 1300 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) significantly increases litigation by allowing a plaintiff to sue for failure to prevent harassment or discrimination when no harassment or discrimination occurs, limits the use of severance agreements and prohibits the use of a general release or nondisparagement clause in employer/employee contracts. Oppose/Job Killer 2018. Assembly Appropriations 6/27/18
- Disclosure of Company Pay Data. SB 1284 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) unfairly requires California employers to submit pay data to the Department of Industrial Relations, creating a false impression of wage discrimination or unequal pay where none exists and, therefore, subjecting employers to unfair public criticism, enforcement measures and significant litigation costs to defend against meritless claims. Oppose/Job Killer 2018. Assembly Appropriations 6/26/18
- Wage Statement Penalties. AB 2613 (Reyes; D-Grand Terrace) imposes another layer of Labor Code penalties for wage and hour violations in addition to the penalties already available under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and imposes personal liability onto employees who have no control over the actual payment of wages. Oppose/Job Killer 2018. Assembly Inactive File 6/4/18; Failed Deadline
- Portable Benefits for the Gig Economy. AB 2765 (Low; D-Campbell) imposes onerous and costly mandates on companies in the gig economy labeled as the “digital marketplace” by adding them under the provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), expanding the protected classifications under FEHA for contractors of the digital marketplace to include “familial status,” and creates further confusion and uncertainty regarding the use and classification of independent contractors. These new mandates will dramatically increase the amount of frivolous litigation under the FEHA and the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) for the digital marketplace. Oppose/Job Killer 2018. Assembly Labor & Employment 3/22/18; Failed Deadline
- Extension of Statute of Limitations. AB 1870 (Reyes; D-Grand Terrace) unnecessarily extends the statute of limitations from one year to three years for all discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Oppose Unless Amended. Held in Senate Appropriations Suspense File 7/2/18
- Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act. AB 2841 (Gonzalez Fletcher; D-San Diego) amends the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act to extend the number of paid sick days employers are required to provide from 3 days to 5 days. Oppose. Held in Assembly Appropriations Suspense File 4/25/18; Failed Deadline
- Sexual Harassment. AB 3081 (Gonzalez Fletcher; D-San Diego) places in the Labor Code additional, often duplicative, sexual harassment protections and training requirements, which are already protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), exposing employers to additional liability, including Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims. The bill mandates leave of absence protections for employees and their “family members,” asserting sexual harassment violations without mandating the same notice requirement that applies to other similar types of leave. The bill also expands labor contractor joint liability for sexual harassment, which is inappropriate in light of the inability to objectively verify and ensure that a contractor’s workers do not engage in such activity. Oppose. Senate Appropriations Hearing 8/6/18
- Sexual Harassment Employer/Employee Protection. AB 2770 (Irwin; D-Thousand Oaks) codifies case law to ensure victims of sexual harassment and employers are not sued for defamation by the alleged harasser when a complaint of sexual harassment is made and the employer conducts its internal investigation. This bill also provides additional protections to employers by expressly allowing employers to inform potential employers about the sexual harassment investigation and findings. Reducing the cost of frivolous litigation allows an employer to utilize these financial resources to grow its workforce. Sponsor/Job Creator 2018. Signed—Chapter 82
- Significant Expansion of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). AB 1938 (Burke; D-Inglewood) creates a new protected classification under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for “familial status,” which will significantly increase the amount of frivolous litigation against employers and ultimately hamper their ability to conduct business and manage their employees. Oppose Unless Amended. Assembly Labor & Employment 2/5/18; Failed Deadline
- Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) Reform. AB 2016 (Fong; R-Bakersfield) mitigates the financial threat of frivolous litigation by requiring that plaintiffs provide a more detailed account of the allegations in the required Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) notice, allowing an employer to utilize these financial resources to grow their workforce instead. Support/Job Creator 2018. Assembly Labor & Employment 2/12/18; Failed Deadline
- Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) Reform. AB 2907 (Flora; R-Ripon) provides employers with a reasonable opportunity to cure specific Labor Code violations before being subject to costly and frivolous litigation under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), allowing an employer to invest this financial savings into growing its workforce. Support/Job Creator 2018. Assembly Labor & Employment 3/22/18; Failed Deadline
- Sexual Harassment Leave Requirement. AB 2366 (Bonta; D-Oakland) mandates a leave of absence protection for employees asserting sexual harassment violations without mandating the same notice requirement that applies to other similar types of leave. Significantly expands leave of absence protections for victims of sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence and now, sexual harassment victims to their “family members,” which is broadly defined. (Provisions incorporated into AB 3081). Oppose. Held in Assembly Appropriations Suspense File 5/16/18; Failed Deadline
- Lactation Accommodation. SB 937 (Wiener; D-San Francisco) significantly amends current law regarding lactation accommodations by implementing new location standards, employer policy requirements, document retention, new construction requirements and supplementary Labor Code penalties. Oppose Unless Amended. Assembly Appropriations 6/26/18
- Lactation Accommodation. AB 1976 (Limón; D-Goleta) establishes a new mandate regarding lactation accommodations whereby the employer must make a reasonable effort to provide a location other than a bathroom for the employee to express breastmilk, even though this could create an undue hardship on employers with limited space. Oppose Unless Amended. Senate Appropriations Hearing 8/6/18
- Disclosure of Personal Contact Information. AB 2455 (Kalra; D-San Jose) requires the state to turn over personal information of registered home care aides to unions for the purpose of organizing. Oppose. Senate Appropriations Hearing 8/6/18
- Sexual Harassment Complaint Document Retention. AB 1867 (Reyes; D-Grand Terrace), before amendments, created a confusing mandate whereby employers with 50 or more employees must maintain internal complaint records of employee complaints alleging sexual harassment for a minimum of five years after the last day of employment of the complainant or any alleged harasser named in the complaint, whichever is later. Opposition removed due to June 21, 2018 amendments. No Position. Senate Appropriations Hearing 8/6/18
- Flexible Meal Period Schedule. AB 2509 (Waldron; R-Escondido) provides nonexempt employees, who work a traditional eight-hour day schedule, the opportunity to request an on-duty meal period in order to leave work 30 minutes earlier, which helps accommodate employee requests, retain employees and offer more flexible work arrangements. Sponsor/Job Creator 2018. Assembly Labor & Employment 3/15/18; Failed Deadline
- Flexible Workweek. AB 1173 (Harper; R-Huntington Beach) provides employers with the opportunity to accommodate employees’ needs as well as business demands by allowing employees to request a voluntary, flexible workweek agreement that can be repealed by the employee at any time with proper notice. Support. Assembly Labor & Employment 1/11/18; Failed Deadline
- Janitorial Workers Training Requirements. AB 2079 (Gonzalez Fletcher; D-San Diego) mandates additional registration, enforcement and training requirements on employers and individuals in the janitorial business. Oppose. Senate Floor 7/3/18
- Flexible Workweek. AB 2482 (Voepel; R-Santee) allows for an employee-selected flexible work schedule and relieves employers of the administrative cost and burden of adopting an alternative workweek schedule per division, which accommodates employees, helps retain employees and allows the employer to invest these savings into growing its workforce. Support/Job Creator 2018. Assembly Labor & Employment 3/5/18; Failed Deadline
- Joint Liability. SB 1402 (Lara; D-Bell Gardens) requires customers of a motor carrier service provider to be jointly and severally liable with the motor carrier for unpaid wages, unreimbursed expenses, damages and penalties, including applicable interest. Oppose. Assembly Appropriations 6/26/18
- Criminal Background Checks. SB 1412 (Bradford; D-Gardena) prohibits employers in specific industries from seeking particular conviction history information of an applicant, creating a conflict with federal law requirements. Oppose Unless Amended. Assembly Appropriations 7/3/18
- Imposes New One-Sided Attorney’s Fee Recovery. AB 2946 (Kalra; D-San Jose) undermines the essence of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DSLE) complaint process by requiring a one-sided attorney’s fee provision that will incentivize further litigation. Oppose. Assembly Floor 5/25/18; Failed Deadline
- Additional Employer Regulations. AB 2212 (Ting; D-San Francisco) requires food processors that sell direct to consumers to undergo redundant and superfluous regulations regarding food handler card requirements. Oppose. Assembly Health 3/19/18; Failed Deadline
- CalWORKs Participation. SB 926 (Skinner; D-Berkeley), before amendments, allowed a participant in the CalWORKs program to refuse to comply with the program based on the participant’s independent determination that the employer-provided schedule is too unpredictable. Opposition removed due to May 26, 2018 amendments. No Position. Assembly Appropriations 6/26/18
- General Contractor Wage-and-Hour Liability. AB 1565 (Thurmond; D-Richmond) prevents general contractor liability for wage theft that the subcontractor committed if the general contractor already paid the subcontractor in full and was not involved in the wage theft. Gutted and amended May 24, 2018. No Position. Senate Floor 7/3/18
Legal Reform and Protection
- Ban on Settlement Agreements and Arbitration Agreements. AB 3080 (Gonzalez Fletcher; D-San Diego) significantly expands employment litigation and increases costs for employers and employees by banning settlement agreements for labor and employment claims as well as arbitration agreements made as a condition of employment, which is likely preempted under the Federal Arbitration Act and will only delay the resolution of claims. Banning such agreements benefits the trial attorneys, not the employer or employee. Oppose/Job Killer 2018. Senate Appropriations Hearing 8/6/18
- Interference with Contracts. AB 1902 (Levine; D-San Rafael) discourages and reduces “personal service contracts” as defined, by unfairly increasing the contract price for these services based upon an undefined and unspecified “area income” rate that presumably will include wages from different industries and different occupations that are not comparable to personal services. It also provides the Department of Industrial Relations with extraordinary authority to value companies, determine “similar services” to be included under the provisions of this bill and what constitutes “area income.” Oppose/Job Killer 2018. Held in Assembly Appropriations Suspense File 5/2/18; Failed Deadline
- Confidentiality Provisions. AB 3109 (M. Stone; D-Scotts Valley) specifies the limitations of a non-disclosure provision in a settlement agreement for claims involving sexual harassment and assault, so that the Legislature, courts or administrative agencies can resolve disputes or policy debates involving these issues. Support. Senate Floor 7/3/18
- Employee-Union Agent Evidentiary Privilege. AB 3121 (Kalra; D-San Jose) creates a new evidentiary privilege that is one-sided and will provide a union representative with an unfair opportunity to preclude relevant evidence during litigation regarding labor disputes or collective bargaining, that may ultimately result in the miscarriage of justice. Oppose. Senate Floor 6/21/18
- Confidentiality Provisions. SB 820 (Leyva; D-Chino) limits the ability to informally resolve civil cases that include an allegation of harassment or failure to prevent harassment, which will encourage defendants to pursue a trial on the merits of such cases to prove such claims lack merit and clear any public concerns regarding reputation, thereby increasing the burden on the trial courts. Oppose. Assembly Floor 7/5/18
- Individual Liability. SB 1038 (Leyva; D-Chino), before amendments, unfairly imposed individual liability on a supervisor employee for making personnel and management decisions that are a part of the supervisor’s duties, placing the supervisor in a conflict of interest with the employer, and subjecting the individual to financial harm. Opposition removed due to June 25, 2018 amendments. No Position. Assembly Floor 7/5/18
- Medical Marijuana in Employment. AB 2069 (Bonta; D-Oakland) undermines employer’s ability to provide a safe and drug-free workplace by requiring employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to employees who use marijuana for a disability or medical purposes, exposing employers to costly and unnecessary litigation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) whenever the employer terminates an employee who has created a safety hazard in the workplace. Oppose/Job Killer 2018. Held in Assembly Appropriations Suspense File 5/16/18; Failed Deadline