Posted: 9/12/2017

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California employers should be aware of new state laws that have come into effect as of July 2017. A minor oversight to any of these laws can lead to hefty penalties. Here are three law changes that should be implemented in your workplace if you are doing business in California.

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California employers should be aware of new state laws that have come into effect as of July 2017. A minor oversight to any of these laws can lead to hefty penalties. Here are three law changes that should be implemented in your workplace if you are doing business in California.

Regulations on Criminal History

The law prohibits an employer from screening out applicants based on a criminal record or considering criminal information in employment decisions if doing so would have an “adverse impact” on a protected class, such as individuals of a particular race, national origin, or gender. Hiring decisions based on an applicant’s criminal past must be clearly related to successful performance in the job and workplace and must measure a person’s suitability for the particular position. The employer must consider the nature and gravity of the offense, how much time has passed since the offense, and the nature of the job.

If an applicant is not hired due to their criminal history, the applicant must receive specific notices and be allowed an opportunity to rebut the decision.

Employers cannot ask applicants to disclose information regarding:

  • Juvenile criminal history
  • Arrests or detentions that did not result in conviction
  • Convictions that have been judicially dismissed or ordered sealed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated pursuant to law
  • Information pertaining to referrals or participation in a criminal diversion program
  • Convictions for most marijuana possession offenses over two years old

Gender Identity/Expression Related Regulations

It is against the law to discriminate against a person on the basis of gender identity, gender expression, or because an individual is transgender, in the process of transitioning, has transitioned or is believed to be transitioning. In addition, employers cannot require proof of or ask questions that identify a person on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity or gender expression.

Within the workplace, an individual’s requests to be referred to by a particular name, gender, or pronoun must be honored. Dress codes generally cannot be gender specific and employees should be allowed to dress consistent with their gender identity or expression. Also, employees should be allowed to use restroom facilities that correspond with their gender identity or expression and cannot be forced to use a particular facility.

Victim Leave Rights

California businesses with 25 employees or more must provide written notice to new employees regarding rights of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking victims to take time off for medical treatment or legal proceeding. The notice must also include information on victims’ rights to accommodation and protection against discrimination. A notice containing this information is available from the State Department of Industrial Relations.

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Tags: California, employer, new laws

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