This month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed several employment-related bills into law. The laws go into effect January 1, 2020, and include an extension to the deadline to file certain state discrimination claims and address harassment training and prevention, as well as mandatory arbitration agreements.
The Stop Harassment and Reporting Extension Act, AB 9, extends the deadline for filing harassment, discrimination and other claims under the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) from one year to three years. The lengthening of the statute of limitations—although not retroactive—prolongs employers’ exposure to claims under the FEHA, potentially increasing the value of such claims to employees, as well as a corresponding risk of such claims against employers. Employers should, accordingly, apply additional diligence when evaluating such claims.
AB 547 affects the hospitality and other industries as it takes measures to address refinements in harassment training and prevention for janitorial workers. Similarly, SB 530 addresses sexual harassment training and prevention measures for construction workers.
Another new California law, AB 51, prohibits employers from requiring applicants and employees to waive a right, forum, or procedure under the FEHA and the California Labor Code. Related statute SB 707 provides for severe penalties—including losing the right to arbitrate claims—for the drafter an arbitration agreement who fails to pay arbitration fees within 30 days of the due date.
These laws, along with other states’ recently enacted laws, illustrate the shifting trend toward further employee protections through employment laws throughout the country, and employers should continue to monitor developments in this area.