BUSINESS BRIEF:

QUARTERLY EMPLOYMENT LAW

UPDATES

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By: Phillip Maltin

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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By: Ricardo Rozen

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATESNEW LEGISLATION 2019

Changes to Anti-Harassment Training:  Businesses Must Train All of their Workers

SUMMARY: Until this year, California required employers with 50 or more employees to deliver at least two hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees every two years.  By January 1, 2020, employers with five or more workers shall deliver at least two hours of “classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all nonsupervisory employees in California within six months” of hiring.

Pending Legislation to Lengthen the Statute Of Limitations on Discrimination Claims

SUMMARY:  A bill is working its way through the California Legislature that would extend to three years the period within which a person must file a lawsuit alleging employment discrimination. (AB 9.) 

Legislature Makes Sexual Harassment Claims Easier to Prove, & Harder to Defeat

SUMMARY: Until this year, a person claiming harassment, including sexual harassment, needed to prove the “harassment” affected the employee’s “tangible productivity.” The Legislature lowered the level of proof required to win a claim.  “It suffices to prove that a reasonable person subjected to the discriminatory conduct would find, as the plaintiff did, that the harassment so altered working conditions as to make it more difficult to do the job.”

California Disfavors Trial Courts Dismissing Most Harassment Claims before Trial

SUMMARY: Changes to anti-harassment laws in California beginning on January 1, 2019, make it easier for employees alleging harassment to get to trial.  The Legislature enacted this law:  “Harassment cases are rarely appropriate for disposition on summary judgment. In that regard, the Legislature affirms . . . that hostile working environment cases involve issues “not determinable on paper.”

California Requires Gender Diversity:  Females Must Receive Positions on the Boards of Directors of Publicly Traded Companies

SUMMARY: By the end of 2019, all publicly held corporations, with their principal offices located in California, must have at least one female director on their boards.  

Salary Questions a Business Can Ask During Job Interviews

SUMMARY: California’s Equal Pay Act, Labor Code section 1197.5, prohibits employers from paying less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work. Some exceptions, such as seniority, apply.  That statute prohibits an employer from using “prior salary” to justify wage disparity.  These apply to disparities in wages paid to workers based on race or ethnicity. Thus, a potential employee’s prior salary is irrelevant when determining what to pay that person.   

Workplace Culture Is Irrelevant When Defending Against Harassment Claims

SUMMARY: Some work environments are more rough-and-tumble than others. In fact, in upholding a trial court’s decision to dismiss a sexual harassment case, the California Court of Appeal relied on the fact that the Plaintiff worked in a “salty” environment.  It noted that “profanity, vulgarity and sexual taunting were commonplace [in the environment in which the Plaintiff worked] and apparently generally accepted.” 

Summary of California’s Limitations on Restrictions in Settlement Agreements

SUMMARY: The California Legislature changed what parties can include in agreements that settle claims involving sexual misconduct. A settlement agreement may not prevent a person from disclosing “factual information” related to “a claim, regarding an act of (i) sexual assault (under Code of Civil Procedure section 1002); (ii) sexual harassment (under Civil Code section 51.9); and (iii) workplace harassment or discrimination based on sex (under Government Code section 12940(h), (i), (j) and (k)).”

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