July 2017 | California Employer Bulletin
California has just provided employers with four new reasons to stay alert. The four new California Laws going into effect on July 1, 2017 address the following- (1) domestic violence, (2) the minimum wage, (3) criminal background checks, and (4) transgender rights.
Notice Posting and Leave for Domestic Violence Issues
Employers must now notify employees of workplace rights regarding domestic violence victims. By way of background, Labor Code section 230.1 forbids employers with 25 or more employees to discriminate against employees who take time off to
- seek medical attention for injuries caused by domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking,
- obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, program, or rape crisis center as a result of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking,
- obtain psychological counseling for domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or
- participate in safety planning or other actions (including temporary or permanent relocation) to increase safety from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Employees taking time off must give the employer reasonable advance notice, unless the advance notice is not feasible. But if the employee takes an unscheduled absence, the employee remains protected by providing, within a reasonable time after the absence, a certification of the protected reason for leave. Employers must maintain the confidentiality of the reason. The Labor Commissioner has developed a notice form for use which can be found here.
Minimum Wage Increases for Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Emeryville
Earlier this year, California once again hiked its minimum wage (to $10.50). But for some municipalities as of July 1, the minimum wage rises in certain California cities/counties such as:
New Criminal Background Check Regulations
On July 1, the Fair Employment and Housing Council will begin to enforce new regulations which will impose additional burdens on use of criminal background checks in employment decisions. As with any criminal background check policy that creates an adverse impact on a protected class, the employer must justify the policy as job-related and consistent with business necessity.
The regulations identify two ways an employer could justify the policy: (1) show that a “bright-line” disqualification properly distinguishes those who do and do not pose an unacceptable level of risk; (2) individually assess the individual’s qualifications. The employer must also give the applicant or employee a reasonable opportunity to show that the conviction information is wrong. If the individual provides evidence of factual inaccuracy, then the conviction cannot be considered in the employment decision.
Even when an employer can show job-relatedness and business necessity, an individual can still prevail on a claim if there is a less discriminatory alternative (such as a narrower list of disqualifying convictions) that advances the employer’s legitimate concerns as effectively as the challenged practice would.
The regulations pose a substantial new risk to employers who maintain no-hire policies for individuals with criminal convictions! Any such policy should be reviewed for compliance.
FEHC Transgender Rights Regulations
On July 1, the California Fair Employment and Housing Council regulations expanded laws relating to gender identity and expression.
As background, note that as of March 1, 2017, all single-user toilet facilities in any California business establishment, place of public accommodation, or government agency must be identified as “all-gender.” As of July 1, transgender employees must have equal access to restrooms and other facilities, including locker rooms, dressing rooms, and dormitories. Employers now must allow employees to use those facilities without regard to the employee’s assigned sex at birth. The regulation provides that employers may make reasonable, confidential inquiries of employees to ensure that facilities are safe and adequate for use.
The July 1st regulation also:
- require employers to honor an employee’s request to be identified by a preferred gender or name,
- forbid employers to impose appearance, grooming or dress standards inconsistent with an individual’s gender identify and gender expression,
- forbid employers to require proof of an individual’s sex, gender, gender identity or gender expression, and
- expand existing gender expression, gender identity and transgender definitions to include “transitioning” employees.
The expanded definition of this protected class may likewise expand liability for harassment, which is particularly likely with respect to a group traditionally subject to discrimination.
Employers should review policies and consider management training to ensure compliance with the California initiatives around gender identity and expression.
ACG Consulting Services has been assisting employers since 1974 by providing a helpful and experienced resource for guidance specific to employment, human resources, health, safety and environmental compliance. For further information regarding ACG Consulting Services or for question specific to the information contained within the current employer bulletin, contact Eric Martin at 1-949-452-1840 or at email@example.com