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Vedder Thinking | Articles New Year, New Laws: 2018 California Employment Roundup


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California employers will be ringing in the new year with additional and expanded legal obligations. Laws taking effect January 1 include:

  • California “Bans the Box” – Employers with five or more employees will be prohibited from inquiring into conviction history, including on employment applications, until a conditional offer of employment has been made. Consideration of an arrest that did not result in a conviction and convictions that have been sealed or dismissed will also be forbidden. Before denying employment based on an applicant’s conviction history, employers will be required to follow a specific process that includes making an individualized assessment of the applicant, focusing on whether the applicant’s conviction history has a direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job.

  • Salary Information Ban – All employers will be prohibited from asking about or relying on salary history when determining whether to offer an applicant a position or what salary to offer an applicant. Employers must also be prepared to provide an applicant with the pay scale for a position upon reasonable request. This law will not preclude applicants from voluntarily disclosing their salary history or goals.

  • Immigration Enforcement – Employers will be prohibited from allowing an immigration enforcement agent to enter nonpublic areas of the workplace without a judicial warrant and may not allow an agent to access, review, or obtain employee records without a subpoena or court order. Employers must give employees notice of an inspection of I-9 forms or other employment records within 72 hours of receiving the federal notice of inspection. Employers will also be prohibited from reverifying employment eligibility, unless required by federal law.

  • Expanded Anti-Harassment Training and Posting – Current mandatory sexual harassment training for supervisors is being expanded to require training content that addresses harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Additionally, employers with five or more employees will need to post a workplace notice developed by the DFEH regarding transgender rights in a prominent and accessible location in the workplace.

  • DLSE Enforcement Actions – The DLSE’s authority will be expanded to permit investigation when, during the course of an ongoing wage claim or other investigation,  the agency suspects an employer of retaliating or discriminating against an employee, regardless of whether a complaint has been filed. Upon a finding that there is “reasonable cause” that a violation of the law occurred, the department will be able to obtain an injunction ordering reinstatement of the employee pending resolution of the investigation.
  • Expanded Family Leave – Family leave is being expanded to include smaller employers with at least 20 employees, giving eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected parental leave.

This bulletin highlights new laws with broad impact, but employers should be aware there are other new laws that may impact them in 2018. We recommend that California employers consult with experienced employment counsel to ensure compliance, as many of these new laws expand the scope of risk for employers and require changes to existing workplace policies.

If you have any questions regarding the topics discussed in this article, please contact Lowell Ritter at +1 (415) 749 9506, any of our California Labor & Employment attorneys or any Vedder Price attorney with whom you have worked.