Governor Brown Signs, Considers, Several Employment-Related Bills Passed by the California Legislature

The 2011 California legislative season is coming to a close. Below is a summary of the employment-law-related bills that were signed or are pending before the Governor. The Governor has until October 9, 2011 to consider, and sign or veto the bills passed by the Legislature this year.

Bills Signed by Governor Brown

SB 272 (DeSaulnier) Leave of Absence: Organ Donation - This bill provides that the days of leave for purposes of bone marrow and organ donation leave are business days rather than calendar days, and that the one-year period is measured from the date the employee’s leave begins and consists of 12 consecutive months. This bill also provides that such a leave of absence is not a break in the employee’s continuous service for the purpose of his or her right to paid time off. This bill further provides that the employer may condition the initial receipt of leave upon the employee’s use of earned but unused days for paid time off. Additionally, the bill states that it is declaratory of existing law.

SB 559 (Padilla) Discrimination: Genetic Information - This bill prohibits discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Unruh Civil Rights Act on the basis of genetic information. "Genetic information" means, with respect to any individual, information about any of the following: (i) the individual’s genetic tests; (ii) the genetic tests of family members of the individual; (iii) the manifestation of a disease or disorder in family members of the individual. Genetic information includes any request for, or receipt of, genetic services, or participation in clinical research that includes genetic services, by an individual or any family member of the individual. Genetic information does not include information about the sex or age of any individual.

AB 587 (Gordon) Public Works/Volunteers - This bill extends the repeal date from January 1, 2012, to January 1, 2017, for the law that exempts specified work performed by a volunteer, a volunteer coordinator, or a member of the California Conservation Corps or a community conservation corps from public works provisions.

AB 240 (Bonilla) Wage Recovery: Liquidated Damages - This bill permits an employee to recover liquidated damages pursuant to a complaint brought before the Labor Commissioner alleging payment of less than the minimum wage.

Bills Pending On Governor’s Desk

AB 22 (Mendoza) Consumer Credit Reports - This bill would greatly limit employers’ ability to obtain a consumer credit report for employment purposes, with exceptions for certain financial institutions, and a limited number of other job classifications.

AB 267 (Swanson) Employment Contracts - This bill would make void and unenforceable as against public policy any provision in an employment contract that requires an employee, as a condition of obtaining or continuing employment, to use a forum other than California, or to agree to a choice of law other than California law, to resolve any dispute with an employer regarding employment-related issues that arise in California.

AB 243 (Alejo) Labor Contractors - This bill would require an employer who is a farm labor contractor to disclose in the itemized wage statement the name and address of the legal entity that secured the employer’s services.

AB 325 (Lowenthal) Bereavement Leave - This bill would allow for four days unpaid leave for bereavement purposes upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or domestic partner’s child, within 13 months of the death of the bereaved individual. The provisions of the bill would not apply to an employee who is covered by a valid CBA that provides for bereavement leave and other specified working conditions.

AB 436 (Solorio) Prevailing Wages - This bill would make revisions regarding the method by which the Department of Industrial Relations sets reimbursement rates and enforcement of public works projects financed in any part by the Water Security, Clean Drinking Water, Coastal and Beach Protection Act of 2002.

AB 469 (Swanson) Wages: Civil Penalties - This bill would provide that in addition to being subject to a civil penalty, any employer who pays or causes to be paid to any employee a wage less than the minimum fixed by an order of the Industrial Welfare Commission shall be subject to paying restitution of wages to the employee. This bill would extend the period within which the division may commence a collection action from 1 year to 3 years. This bill would require an employer to provide each employee, at the time of hiring, with a notice that specifies the rate and the basis of pay and to notify each employee in writing of any changes to the information set forth in the notice within 7 calendar days of the changes unless such changes are reflected on a timely wage statement or another writing.

AB 514 (Hernandez) Prevailing Wages: Hauling Refuse - This bill would include in the definition of "hauling of refuse" the hauling of specified materials other than certain recyclable metals, thereby expanding the definition of "public works" and thus requiring the payment of prevailing wages for that activity.

AB 551 (Campos) Prevailing Wages: Penalties - This bill would increase penalties assessed to contractors and subcontractors found to have violated prevailing wage laws.

AB 592 (Lara) Leaves - This bill would make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to interfere with, or restrain the exercise or attempted exercise of, any right provided to an employee under the CFRA or Pregnancy Disability Leave law.

AB 766 (Monning) Public Works - This bill would require nonredacted copies of certified payroll records to be provided, upon request, to any agency included in, and for the purposes of, the Joint Enforcement Strike Force on the Underground Economy, or to any law enforcement agency.

AB 887 (Atkins) Gender Discrimination - This bill would make changes to state discrimination law by refining the definition of gender to include a person’s gender identity and gender expression. Gender expression would be defined as meaning a person’s gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.

AB 1236 (Fong) Use of E-Verify - The bill would prohibit the state, a city, county, or special district, from requiring an employer other than one of those government entities to use an electronic employment verification system (E-Verify) except when required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds.

AB 1396 (Committee on Labor & Employment) Commissions Agreements - This bill would require all employers, within the state, or from out-of-state, to enter into written contracts of employment where commissions are a method of payment with the employee for services rendered in the state.

SB 129 (Steinberg) Agricultural Labor Relations - This bill would revise election, bargaining, and unfair labor practice procedures before the Agricultural Labor Relations Board.

SB 299 (Evans) Pregnancy Leave - This bill would prohibit an employer from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes Pregnancy Disability Leave.

SB 459 (Corbett) Independent Contractors - This bill would prohibit willful misclassification of individuals as independent contractors. The bill would also authorize the Labor Commissioner to assess civil and liquidated damages against a person or employer based on a determination that the person or employer violated these prohibitions.

SB 757 (Lieu) Health Insurance Plan Discrimination - This bill would prohibit group health insurance plans or policies from discriminating in coverage between spouses or domestic partners of a different sex and spouses or domestic partners of the same sex.

SB 922 (Steinberg) Project Labor Agreements - This bill would provide that if a charter provision, initiative, or ordinance of a charter city prohibits the governing board’s consideration of a project labor agreement for a project to be awarded by the city, or prohibits the governing board from considering whether to allocate funds to a city-funded project covered by such an agreement, then state funding or financial assistance may not be used to support that project.

Please check back in the coming weeks for updates on these bills as they face consideration by the Governor.

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