New California Workplace Legislation for 2013

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Now that we’ve said goodbye to 2012 and 2013 has begun, employers and employees alike should take note of the various changes to California’s labor and employment laws. Among the legislation which took effect on January 1, 2013, are the following, each of which is likely to rely principally on private litigation for its enforcement.

  • Pay Stub Statute Clarified: Labor Code section 226 is clarified, by SB 1255, to specify that “suffering injury” is generally coextensive with an employer’s violation of one of the nine enumerated requirements of wage statements issued in California. This is expected to foreclose the argument that the “suffering injury” requirement gives rise to individual inquiries, thereby precluding class treatment of pay stub claims.
  • Social Media Privacy: AB 1844 prohibits employers from requiring that either job applicants or employees disclose user names and/or passwords to provide the employer with access to private social media information.
  • Enhanced “Whistleblower” Protection: AB 2492 expands the cover age of California’s False Claims Act (aka “Baby Qui Tam”) beyond employees, to cover all contractors and agents.
  • Right to Inspect Personnel Files: AB 2674 clarifies that employers must retain employee personnel files for at least three years after an employee’s tenure ends.
  • Breastfeeding Discrimination: AB 2386 expands the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) definition of “sex” to include breastfeeding, thereby making discrimination based on breastfeeding actionable.
  • Religious Clothing: FEHA’s coverage of employers’ reasonable accommodation of employees’ religious beliefs is expanded by AB 1964 to include dress and grooming under the rubric of “beliefs and observances.”