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Sunday, December 16, 2012

NEW EMPLOYMENT RELATED LAWS FOR 2013

FEHA's Definition of “Sex” Expanded to Protect Breastfeeding
The California Legislature has taken another step to expand the definition of "sex" under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which prohibits specified discriminatory practices in employment. Under existing law, “sex" includes gender, pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. AB 2386 expands the definition of "sex" to include breastfeeding and medical conditions relating to breastfeeding.

Religious Accommodation under FEHA Enhanced
Under FEHA, employers must reasonably accommodate religious beliefs and observances of their employees unless the accommodation would create an undue hardship for the employer. AB 1964 clarifies that religious dress and grooming practices are covered "beliefs and observances." In addition, the new law states that FEHA's "significant difficulty or expense" definition of undue hardship, not the narrower federal Title VII standard, applies to the FEHA religious discrimination section. AB 1964 also specifies that segregation, such as assigning an employee to a stock room out of public view, will no longer be an acceptable religious accommodation.

Employee Social Media Privacy Interests Protected
AB 1844, an addition to the California Labor Code, will prohibit employers from requiring or requesting that employees or applicants disclose their user name or password information for any personal social media, or that they "divulge" any personal social media. "Social media" is broadly defined to include any "electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations." A limited exception will allow employers to ask employees to divulge their personal social media for the purpose of an investigation into alleged employee misconduct or violations of law.

Employee Rights To Inspect Personnel Files Clarified
While existing California law already provides employees with the right to inspect their personnel files, the law was previously unsettled on certain specifics of that process. AB 2674 eliminates some of that confusion by amending the Labor Code to specifically require that employers retain personnel files for at least 3 years following termination of employment, and to permit current and former employees (or their representatives) to inspect and receive a copy of their personnel records within 30 days of a request to do so.
The new law also specifies that an employer is not required to comply with more than 50 requests for copies of personnel records by "a representative or representatives of" employee(s) in one calendar month. In addition, the new law requires that employers develop, and provide upon request, a written form employees may use to request access to, and a copy of, records in their personnel file.

Temporary Services Employers Must Provide Extra Detail on Wage Statements
Beyond the extensive wage statement requirements already in place for California employers under the Labor Code, AB 1744 will amend the Code to require that temporary services employers (with the exception of certain security services companies) include additional information on employee wage statements. Specifically, temporary service employers will also have to include the rate of pay for each separate assignment, the name and address of each entity that secured the temporary employee's services, and the total hours worked for each such entity. These new requirements for temporary services employers will not take effect until July 1, 2013.

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