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State Developments: California

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With the retirement of Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and the election of Jerry Brown (D) as governor of California last fall, the stage was set for pro-employee public policy proposals to begin blooming again in the Golden State. 

California, always a trend-setter in HR public policy, is advancing workplace proposals that could have implications for employers nationwide. Here’s a snapshot of just some proposals which have or are likely to reach Gov. Brown’s desk for signature this year:

  • A.B. 22 – Except for certain financial institutions, would prohibit an employer from obtaining a consumer credit report for employment purposes, unless the position being filled is in management, law enforcement, or has access to sensitive information.
  • A.B. 592  -  This bill would bar an employer’s ability to “interfere with, restrain, or deny” an employee from exercising his or her right, under the Moore-Brown-Roberti Family Rights Act, to use 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period.
  • A.B. 887 - This measure would establish a California Gender Identity Non-Discrimination law for purposes of employment, housing, insurance and other matters. It would refine the definition of gender, including a definition of gender “expression.”   
  • A.B. 1155 - In Workers’ Compensation claims, the bill could result in an employer being barred from using risk factors and specified characteristics in denying benefits to an employee disabled in a work accident.  It would prohibit race, religion, gender and other factors to be used in determining benefits.
  • A.B. 1236 – This would prohibit a state, city, county, or special district from requiring an employer, other than one of those government entities, to use the federal “E- Verify” electronic employment verification system. Exceptions would be when required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds.
  • S.B. 459 – Prohibits the willful misclassification of individuals as independent contractors, and authorizes authorities to assess specified civil penalties on persons or employers who do so. 

To get an idea of what HR public policies are pending or advancing in your state and on the federal level, click HERE to access SHRM’s online U.S. and State Legislative Tracking System. 

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