California legislators put forth several employment bills in recent weeks set to impact private sector employers. For the bills to become effective, the Legislature will still need to vote on each bill. The bills that the Legislature passes will then move to Governor Brown for signature or veto.
Opportunity to Work: Already implemented in San Jose, this bill requires employers to offer additional hours of work to existing part-time employees before hiring new part-time, contract, or temporary employees to work such hours. While employers are exempt from offering additional work hours to employees if doing so would require paying overtime compensation, this bill also authorizes employees to file civil suits against employers for violations of this bill.
‘Ban the Box’ Bill: This bill includes laws which prohibit private-sector employers from asking a job applicant about his or her criminal record or conviction history prior to giving the applicant a conditional employment offer. If the bill passes, background checks will no longer reveal information including arrests not followed by a conviction, sealed or expunged convictions, or misdemeanor convictions without a jail sentence. Further, employers will be required to provide written notice of a decision to deny employment if a conviction is the basis for denial. The applicant may then challenge such decision by providing evidence of mitigation or rehabilitation.
Baby-bonding Leave Rights: While businesses with 50 plus employees already must provide protected “baby-bonding leave,” this bill would require businesses with 20-49 employees to provide 12 weeks leave. Although the leave is unpaid, employers would be required to maintain employee medical benefits.
Veterans’ Hiring Preference: While California public employers have been able to grant hiring preferences to veterans, this bill expands protection against FEHA discrimination claims and permits private employers to grant such hiring preferences to any honorably discharged veteran. Currently, private employers are only insulated from sex discrimination claims when granting hiring preferences to Vietnam War-era veterans.
Reproductive Health Discrimination: The first of its kind in the country, this bill prohibits employers from taking adverse action against an employee, or a dependent of an employee, for use of a drug or device related to reproductive health.