Summary of Key New California Laws for 2019 (and Beyond): What Employers Should Know

In 2018, Governor Brown signed several laws impacting California employers. A summary of some of the key new laws follows. The effective date of each new law is indicated in the heading of the Assembly Bill (AB) and/or Senate Bill (SB).1 The list below is in numerical order by AB or SB.

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Anti-Harassment Training Update for New York Employers: Are You Compliant?

In April, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a sweeping budget bill, which included several major amendments to the New York Human Rights Law (NYHRL). One of the most significant aspects of the bill was the mandate that New York employers adopt robust sexual harassment policies as well as provide mandatory anti-sexual harassment training to all employees, not just managers. Specifically, the law requires employers with four (4) or more employees to adopt sexual harassment policies and training consistent with a model policy and model training prepared jointly by the Commissioner of Labor and the New York State Human Rights Division.

That law became effective on October 9, 2018, and New York state has finally released the model materials, an online “Toolkit for Employers”, including a model sexual harassment policy, a model complaint form, and a model interactive training program. All of the state’s model materials are accessible to employers via a website set up by the government.

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Do Your Employees Use Cell Phones for Work While Driving?

Many employers have policies regarding the use of cell phones while driving, including the requirement to use the car’s hands-free, Bluetooth phone system, and abide by all applicable laws. But what happens when an employee still abides by the employer’s policy, is involved in a car accident, and causes injuries to a third party? Can the employer be held liable under the theory of respondeat superior?

Well, it depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. By way of background, respondeat superior means that an employer is vicariously liable for the torts of its employees when these employees commit the wrongful acts within the scope of their employment. California courts have held that the determination of whether an employee has acted within the scope of employment is a question of fact, but it also can be a question of law in circumstances where the facts cannot be disputed and there can be no conflicting inferences possible.

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Part 18 of “The Restricting Covenant” Series: Court Reporters and Covenants Not to Compete

Most litigators will attest that court reporters and transcribers are essential to the litigation process because they provide a verbatim record of depositions and other court proceedings. Court reporters are extremely patient, courteous, and obviously great listeners. Often times, we lawyers tend to have our “favorites” – you know, the court reporters who you work with repeatedly because they pick up your preferences and other linguistic quirks. I typically think of court reporters as “independent contractors” who would not be bound by traditional non-competition agreements. But when I learned about cases in some jurisdictions enforcing restrictive covenants involving court reporters, I had to write about a few of them in this eighteenth article of the Series.

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Delaware Joins Growing List of States Passing Anti-Harassment Legislation

Delaware is the latest state to mandate that employers provide anti-harassment training to employees. Delaware joins New York, California, Connecticut, and Maine as states that require employers to provide such training. The new law amends the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act (“DDEA”), and takes effect on January 1, 2019.

While the DDEA already prohibited discrimination based on sex, the recent amendments are devoted to prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. The new law amends the DDEA to define sexual harassment and provides the same process used for Title VII violations with regard to exhaustion of administrative remedies prior to filing a private lawsuit.

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U.S. Department of Labor Extends Expiration of FMLA Forms Through August 2021

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) Wage and Hour Division recently announced that its model Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) notices and certification forms are valid for another three years, until August 31, 2021. There is nothing new in the updated model FMLA forms, other than a new expiration date, which is located on the top right corner of the forms.

Employers who use the DOL’s model FMLA forms can access them at the following links:

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