New Changes To California Employment Laws
The new year has come and gone, as we head into mid-year, but as time has passed, you may not have noticed some changes in California employment laws. Many of these changes are for the benefit of California workers, and provide you with rights you may not have known that you even had.
As of January 1, 2023, it is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you for refusing to work or come to work because of an emergency condition.
This is not your condition, but rather, some external, objective condition, which either causes “extreme peril” to the safety of the workplace or workers, caused either by criminal activity, or natural forces. Emergency conditions also include any government instructions to evacuate, due to criminal activity or natural disaster.
Note that emergency conditions don’t include pandemic or health related emergencies, should they happen again in the future.
The employee who refuses to come to work must have a reasonable belief that there is a threat to the worker’s health or safety. Additionally, workers who do work during these conditions, cannot be prohibited from using or accessing their phones.
If possible and safe, employees must notify employers in advance of their intention to refuse to report to work beforehand.
Extension of Time for Harassment Claims
Sexual harassment claims in the workplace are unfortunately common. Thankfully, the federal government passed a law prohibiting forced arbitration in these kinds of cases; now California has provided additional help to sexual harassment victims, extending the statute of limitations on these claims.
Now, sexual harassment claims that happened anytime after January 1, 2009, can still be brought, so long as the employer did something to try to cover up the harassment, or to keep it from being discovered.
This may include paying people to remain silent, or using confidentiality agreements to keep people from reporting sexual harassment or abuse.
Those suffering from a death in the family will get some relief as well; the new law allows employees five days of bereavement leave for the death of any family member. That includes non-blood family members, like in-laws, adopted children, or domestic partners.
The leave must be taken within 90 days of the death, but it doesn’t have to be taken all at once; intermittent leave is permitted. The employer can ask for proof of the death.
Employees don’t need to be paid for those five days—however, if your employer already provides paid bereavement leave, the employee will get those days, plus the five unpaid days provided by the new law.
Paid Family Care Leave
California employees always were entitled to unpaid leave, to take care of sick or ailing relatives or those who are as close as relatives. Under the new law, that leave will now be paid leave.
Contact the San Jose employment lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm today for help protecting your rights as an employee in California.