2020 Employment Law Updates for California Employers


For California employers, 2020 carries a whole set of new legal obligations.

In this article, we highlight some of these new changes that may affect your business:

AB 5: Employee v. Independent Contractor: Enter the ABC Test

In Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Super. Ct., 4 Cal. 5th 903 (2018), the California Supreme Court decided that the “ABC Test” should be used to determine worker classification.  Under the ABC Test, a worker is by default an employee, unless the employer can prove the following:

A) the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact;

B) the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and

C) the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as work performed for the hiring entity.

Certain occupations and professions are exempt from this test: doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, licensed insurance agents, real estate agents, securities broker-dealers and investment advisors, architects, private investigators, direct sellers, and certain professional services workers with their own business (marketing, human resources, travel agents and licensed manicurists, barbers or cosmetologists, etc.), licensed subcontractors in the construction industry, certain referral agencies, and others.

For these exemptions, courts will apply the 11-part Borello test to determine worker classification.

AB 51: Mandatory Arbitration Agreements Prohibited

Employers cannot require applicants or employees to agree, as a condition of employment, continued employment, or in exchange for any employment-related benefit, to arbitrate claims involving violations workplace claims. The law also prohibits employers from threatening, retaliating, discriminating, or terminating any applicant or employee because of their refusal to sign an arbitration agreement.

The statute provides for injunctive relief and reasonable attorneys’ fees to a prevailing plaintiff who enforces his or her rights under the statute. Employers who violate the law may be charged with a criminal misdemeanor.

SB 778: Sexual Harassment Training

As of 2018, employers with 5 or more employees are required to provide sexual harassment training as follows:

  1. 2 hours of sexual harassment prevention training for supervisory employees

  2. 1 hour of sexual harassment prevention training for non-supervisory employees.

  3. The new law extends the prior deadline of January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021.

  4. Training must be provided once every 2 years thereafter and must be completed within 6 months of hiring or promotion.

SB 142: Lactation Accommodation

Employers are required to provide:

1) a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee who wants to express breast milk for her child

2) use of a private room near the employee’s work area, other than a bathroom, and

3) access to a sink with running water and a refrigerator suitable for storing milk close to the employee’s work space, or another cooling device suitable for storing milk.

SB 83: Paid Family Leave

Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) currently provides benefits for up to six (6) weeks through California’s state disability insurance program to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a child within one year of the birth, adoption or foster care placement of the child. Beginning July 1, 2020, the law will increase benefits to eight (8) weeks.

SB 188: FEHA’s Definition of Race

This new law expands the definition of “race” under California Fair Employment and Housing Act to provide that race “is inclusive of traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” It also provides a definition of “protective hairstyles,” which includes, but is not limited to, “such hairstyles as braids, locks, and twists.”

Business owners: Is your business compliant with the new labor laws?

To learn more about the new laws that could affect California businesses this year, contact our experienced team of Los Angeles employment law attorneys at Amity Law Group, LLP. Being compliant to these new labor laws can help to avoid potential fines and lawsuits.

To schedule a free consultation, call or text us at (626) 307-2800.

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Amity Law Group, LLP

Amity Law Group, LLP