California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Issues COVID-19 FAQs

With the rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, California employers have endeavored to ensure the health and safety of their workforces while at the same time heeding the anti-discrimination provisions of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Addressing a number of unique issues arising out of the current crises, on March 20, 2020, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) issued answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAQs address compliance with both the anti-discrimination provisions in FEHA as well as leave of absence rights found in the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

California Prohibits Most “No Rehire” Provisions in Settlement Agreements

Employment litigation settlement agreements often include a mutually negotiated “no-rehire” provision by which the departing employee agrees not to seek employment with the company in the future. A recently enacted California law will require companies to refrain from including such provisions in most instances.

California’s New Hairstyle Antidiscrimination Law May Signal the Beginning of a National Trend

Signaling a growing movement to align culturally inclusive practices with legal protections, California has become the first state to expressly ban discrimination based on hairstyle and hair texture associated with a person’s race. On July 3, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsome signed into law Senate Bill No. 188, the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act (CROWN Act).

California Pay Equity Data Collection Legislation Closer to Passing

Currently, certain employers are required under federal law to file annual Employer Information Reports (EEO-1) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These EEO-1s must contain data regarding demographics of the employer’s workforce. Accordingly, employers covered by federal EEO-1 reporting requirements were required to file EEO-1 Component 1 data from 2018 by May 31, 2019, and must still submit Component 2 EEO-1 (pay and hours worked) data for their workforces by September 30, 2019. Not to be outdone, the State of California is poised to impose a similar requirement on employers.

California’s Paid Family Leave Program to Expand from 6 to 8 Weeks

California is expanding state benefits available to workers who lose wages while taking time off to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. On June 27, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California’s 2019-20 state budget, which included an expansion of the state’s family temporary disability insurance program administered through the Employment Development Department (EDD). The benefit program is commonly referred to as “paid family leave” or PFL.

A Dozen Major Employment Law Bills Wind Through the California Legislature

The California State Senate and Assembly have been busy this year, moving a number of employment law bills through the legislative process. May 31, 2019, was the deadline for either the assembly or the senate to pass a bill and send it to the other house. A few employment-related bills failed to advance, but there are still a dozen major bills marching forward.

Please Release Me: New California Civil Code Section 1542 Release Language Effective January 1, 2019

Given the litigious environment in California, employers operating in the state are in great need of enforceable general release terms in severance and settlement agreements. California employers entering into severance or settlement agreements will want to be aware of the amendment to California Civil Code Section 1542.

Governor Brown Signs Final Round of Employment-Related Legislation

Once again, Governor Jerry Brown ends the legislative year by signing a flurry of employment-related legislation. This year, however, is Governor Brown’s last year to do so, and next year we will report about the employment-related legislation that the new governor (whoever that is) undoubtedly will have signed.

New California Law Mandates Small Businesses Provide Parental Leave

On October 12, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed the New Parent Leave Act into law, extending unpaid leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement to employees of businesses with as few as 20 employees. Commenting on Senate bill (SB) 63, Governor Brown stated, “today’s actions will make a positive difference for women, children and families across the state.”

California Legislative Update: Several Labor and Employment Bills Passed in the Assembly

Several California labor and employment law bills passed in the state assembly or senate before the June 2, 2017, legislative deadline. The legislature now has until September 15, 2017, to pass these bills in the second house. Thereafter, the governor will have until October 15, 2017, to sign or veto any bills that pass in both houses.

California Paid Sick Leave Update: Employer Attendance Policies May Interfere With Labor Code Rights

Many employers enforce attendance policies which assign an “occurrence” for unscheduled, unapproved absences. Although employers generally have discretion to implement attendance policies, such policies should be carefully crafted to avoid running afoul of antidiscrimination and antiretaliation provisions found in certain state and local paid sick leave laws.