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2019 Legislation Changes for California Employers


As this year wraps up, employers are gearing up to make necessary changes to their policies and procedures to comply with ever-changing legislation.  California employers should take note of new or updated laws relating to anti-harassment, lactation accommodations, and gender and pay equity, to name a few. We’ll briefly touch on some key information that California employers should consider. Businesses should coordinate with their Human Resources (HR) Departments and consider seeking appropriate legal counsel to ensure they are in compliance.

Anti-Harassment Requirements

Businesses that employ five or more individuals will be required to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all workers by January 1, 2020, and every two years thereafter. Employers will need to look at their current harassment programs or develop one that meets the standards of the law.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing will prepare training materials that comply with the new requirements that employers can consult.

Sexual Harassment & Discrimination

New laws relating to sexual harassment settlement agreements and any workplace discrimination claims based on sex go into effect at the beginning of New Year. As a result, employers may need to make revisions to their policies.

Under the new law, employers and victims of sexual harassment will be better protected from defamation liability by an alleged harasser. Employees who report harassment, based on creditable evidence and without malice, will not be liable for injury to the alleged harasser’s reputation. Plus the communications between the employer and victim or witnesses will be protected. And an employer will be allowed to reveal in a job reference whether an individual is ineligible for rehire because they were determined to have engaged in sexual harassment.

Beginning January 1, 2019, settlement agreements in a case where sexual harassment, assault, or discrimination has been alleged are banned from containing broad confidentiality provisions. Such settlement agreements cannot include confidentiality provisions that prohibit disclosure of factual information regarding the claim, except regarding the claimant’s identity.

In addition, any provision in a contract or settlement agreement that prohibits a party in the contract from testifying about criminal conduct or sexual harassment in a proceeding will be unenforceable.

In relation to raises, bonuses, or as a condition of employment, an employer cannot require an employee to:

  • Agree not to sue or bring a claim against the employer under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA); or
  • Sign a non-disparagement agreement preventing the employee from disclosing information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including sexual harassment.

It should be noted that these prohibitions do not apply to negotiated and severance agreements.

Required Materials for Talent Agencies

Talent agencies will need to provide adult artists with educational materials on sexual harassment prevention, retaliation, and reporting resources, as well as nutrition and eating disorders, within 90 days. The materials must be in a language that the artist understands.  Artists between the ages of 14 and 17, along with their legal guardians, must receive complete training in sexual harassment prevention, retaliation, and reporting resources before they can obtain a work permit.

The agencies will have to keep records for three years confirming that the educational materials were made available to all artists who have signed for representation, and will be used in the license renewal process to confirm compliance. Violators will face a penalty of $100 per violation.

Lactation Accommodations

California employers will be required to provide a lactation space other than a bathroom. The location must be private and in close proximity to the employee’s work area. Under limited circumstances will an employer be able to claim it is an undue hardship to provide a separate location other than a bathroom.

Gender Equality

Publically traded California companies must have a certain number of women on their board of directors, depending on their size. Covered corporations must have at least one female on their board by the end of 2019. Boards with five or more directors will need to add two or three female members by the end of 2021. Companies that fail to add the required number of women to their board could face significant financial penalties.

Preparing for the New Year

While employers prepare for a new year of business, take some time to check out your company’s BCA Report. See what your customers are saying about you, and if you don’t see any reviews, invite your customers to leave some of their positive experiences. BCA’s Customer Feedback Program has successfully helped companies promote their business and also gain customers, as well as increased repeat sales.  Click the link to request a Free Consultation. There is no long-term commitment, but once you join, we think you’ll stay.

If you’re not currently a BCA member, don’t hesitate to contact us to find out what BCA can do for your business.

BCA wishes you all a successful and prosperous New Year.

About Business Consumer Alliance Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.