California's Workplace Landscape Set to Change: New Employment Laws for 2023

  • April 19, 2023
  • /   FCIS Team
  • /   Uncategorized
Stop sign reading: The Rules Have Changed
Stop sign reading: The Rules Have Changed

It’s our goal to help our clients not only protect their business but manage risk, there are a few highlights on the new 2023 employment laws that we think you should know about. Staying up to date on the latest California employment laws is a full-time job…which is why we asked Renee N. Noy, Partner of WorkWise Law, PC (an actual California Employment Attorney) to weigh in! 

Topping the chart for us are:

SB 1044

Prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who refuse to report to or leave a workplace during an emergency if they have a reasonable belief that it is unsafe. This applies to natural disasters, criminal acts, or evacuation orders, but not health pandemics. Employers cannot prevent employees from using mobile or communication devices during emergencies. Employees must notify the employer of the emergency condition. However, the protection does not apply if there is an imminent and ongoing risk of harm.

SB 731

Electronic sealing of records is applicable to individuals who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime, as well as the option for certain individuals who have served time in prison to have their records sealed. Additionally, individuals who have completed their parole and have remained free of crime for a period of four years following their release from prison may petition their local court to have their record expunged. It should be noted that there exist certain exceptions to this law, those convicted of sex offenses or crimes against children are not eligible to have their records expunged.

AB 2777

This bill extends the statute of limitations until Dec. 31, 2026, for sexual assault claims that were previously barred due to expiration. It also allows for claims that occurred after Jan. 1, 2009, and for claims that occurred after the plaintiff's 18th birthday with a "cover up" by the responsible entity, to be revived and pursued. Claims pending before the effective date of the bill can proceed, while claims not filed by Jan. 1, 2023, can be initiated until Dec. 31, 2023. The bill does not apply to claims already litigated or compromised before Jan. 1, 2023.

Wondering what the future brings?

AB 2188 FEHA

Governor Newsom approved the law on September 18, 2022, which amends FEHA to prohibit employers from discriminating against employees or job applicants for off-duty cannabis use. The law becomes effective on January 1, 2024, allowing time for employers to prepare. The California Civil Rights Department may issue further guidance before then.
While some may view this as a step forward for employee rights, there are also concerns about its potential impact. One concern is that the law could create ambiguity for employers, who may not know how to enforce drug-free workplace policies while still complying with the new law. Additionally, there are concerns that the law could result in increased workplace accidents or reduced productivity if employees use cannabis while off-duty but still come to work impaired. Finally, some critics have argued that the law could make it harder for employers to maintain a safe work environment or enforce drug testing policies, particularly for employees in safety-sensitive positions…stay tuned.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI)

A positive outcome is on the horizon in the form of: Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). EPLI provides coverage for employers against claims made by employees related to employment-related practices, such as wrongful termination, discrimination, or harassment. And another fun fact, EPLI coverage may also include coverage for claims related to workplace safety and health issues.

If an employee refuses to work due to a wildfire or flood, the employer may face potential legal liabilities and claims from the employee, such as claims of unsafe working conditions, wrongful termination, or retaliation. In this situation, EPLI coverage may be helpful as it can provide financial protection to the employer by covering the costs of defending against such claims, including legal fees, settlements, and judgments.

Additionally, EPLI coverage may also provide access to resources such as legal advice and risk management support to help the employer manage the situation and prevent future claims. We do want to note, the specific terms and coverage of EPLI policies can vary, so it is important for employers and business owners to carefully review their policies and it is advisable to consult with your insurance provider to gain a clear understanding of your coverage, including any limitations or exclusions that may apply.

As always, the team thrives on assisting our clients, we are happy to answer any questions you may have