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Recap of 2018 California Employment Law Changes

california employment lawCalifornia Employment Law Changes Enacted by the 2017 California Legislature

The California Legislature once again enacted numerous labor and employment laws addressing discrimination, harassment, compensation, hiring, and parental leave. A snapshot of each of these laws and their effective dates are summarized below. Employers with operations in California should understand how these laws change their policies, procedures and employee notification processes.

Hiring Practices and Enforcement

AB 168 bars employers from requesting, orally or in writing, the pay history of job applicants (either directly or through an agent, such as a third-party recruiter). Also, employers may not rely on salary history information as a factor in determining whether to hire the applicant or how much to pay the applicant. Applicants may voluntarily and without prompting disclose their salary history to a prospective employer. Effective January 1, 2018

Ban the Box

AB 1008 prohibits employers with at least five employees from asking, orally or in writing, job applicants about criminal conviction histories until a conditional offer of employment has been made. There are limited exemptions for certain positions, such as those where a criminal background check is required by federal, state or local law. AB 1008 also prohibits California employers from considering, distributing or disseminating information about certain types of arrests or convictions while conducting a background check following a conditional offer of employment. Once an employer has made a conditional offer of employment, it may seek certain criminal history information. However, before denying employment because of a criminal conviction, AB 1008 outlines several  specific steps that must be followed. Employers in Los Angeles and San Francisco are also required to comply with the local “Fair Chance” ordinances, which have additional requirements. Effective January 1, 2018

Workplace Harassment

SB 396, the Transgender Work Opportunity Act, requires California employers with 50 or more employees to expand the two hours of sexual harassment prevention training such employers are already required to provide under the Fair Employment and Housing Act to supervisors every two years (or within six months after an employee becomes a supervisor) to include training on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation harassment. Effective January 1, 2018

Retaliation and Discrimination 

SB 306 authorizes the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to investigate an employer – “with or without receiving a complaint” – when the Labor Commissioner suspects retaliation or discrimination against a worker during a wage claim or other investigation. The Labor Commissioner will also be allowed to seek injunctive relief (that the employee be reinstated pending resolution of the claim) upon a mere finding of “reasonable cause” that a violation of the law has occurred. That injunctive relief, however, would not prohibit an employer from disciplining or firing an employee for conduct that is unrelated to the retaliation claim. Effective January 1, 2018

Expansion of Fair Pay Act

AB 46 extends California’s Fair Pay Act to cover public employers. The Fair Pay Act prohibits wage discrimination on the basis of gender, race and ethnicity and previously only covered private employers. Effective January 1, 2018

Gender Discrimination

AB 1556 revises California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act by deleting gender-specific personal pronouns (such as “female,” “she” and “her”) in California’s anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, pregnancy disability and family/medical leave laws and replacing them with gender-neutral terms such as “the person” or “the employee.” Effective January 1, 2018

Worksite Immigration Protections

AB 450, or Immigrant Worker Protection Act, provides workers with protection from immigration enforcement while on the job and imposes varying fines from $2,000 to $10,000 for violating its provisions. Per AB 450, employers cannot give federal immigration enforcement agents access to non-public areas of a business without a judicial warrant, nor can they provide enforcement agents access to employee records without a subpoena or judicial warrant. Effective January 1, 2018

Parental Leave for Small Employers

SB 63, the New Parental Leave Act (NPLA), requires small businesses with 20 or more employees to provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to bond with a new child. New Parental Leave must be taken within one year of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement. Effective January 1, 2018

Prohibited Discrimination Against Veterans

AB 1710 expands the current protections for members of the armed services by prohibiting discrimination in all “terms, conditions, or privileges” of employment. This legislation conforms state law to the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) by protecting service members in civil jobs from hostile work environments. Effective January 1, 2018

Whistleblower Protections for Health Care Facilities

Section 1278.5 of California’s Health and Safety Code prohibits a health facility from discriminating or retaliating against a patient, employee, member of the medical staff or any other health care worker of the health facility because that person has presented a grievance, complaint or report to the facility, as specified, or has initiated, participated or cooperated in an investigation or administrative proceeding related to the quality of care, services, or conditions at the facility, as specified. AB 1102 amends Section 1278.5 to increase the maximum fine for a person who willfully violates the aforementioned provisions from $20,000 to $75,000. Effective January 1, 2018

workplace discrimination

Google Accused Of Workplace Discrimination Against White Conservative Men

Workplace Discrimination Case

The engineer who was fired by Google after he criticized its diversity policies last August claims in a lawsuit that he and others at the internet giant faced harassment and workplace discrimination due to their conservative political views. This latest lawsuit against Google comes on the heels of a lawsuit brought against the company in December citing violations of the California Equal Pay Act. That suit alleges that Google discriminates against its women employees by systematically paying them lower compensation than their male peers for performing substantially similar work under similar working conditions. 

Damore v. Google, LLC. (Cal. Sup. Ct., Santa Clara Cty.)

On January 8, former Google engineer James Damore, who famously circulated a memo about Google’s so-called “ideological echo chamber,” and a fellow former Google employee filed a discrimination class action complaint against Google on behalf of all employees of Google discriminated against “due to their perceived conservative political views,” “their male gender,” and/or “their Caucasian race.” 

The other ex-Googler named as a plaintiff is David Gudeman, who says he was an engineer for three years until he was wrongfully terminated in December 2016. The two men claim they were “ostracized, belittled and punished for their heterodox political views, and for the added sin of their birth circumstances of being Caucasians and/or males.”

The complaint alleges the following:

  • that employees who deviated from the “majority view” at Google regarding issues such as “‘diversity’ hiring policies, ‘bias sensitivity,’ or ‘social justice,’” were singled out, mistreated, and systematically punished and terminated from Google.
  • that the company’s “open hostility” to conservative thought leads to discrimination in hiring, promotion, and termination decisions on the basis of race and gender because of the “extreme” lengths Google allegedly goes to in taking race and/or gender into consideration as determinative hiring factors, to the detriment of white males.
  • that several of Google’s diversity initiatives, including, among other things, a “Diversity and Inclusion Summit” and a “diversity training class,” as evidence of bias against conservative white men.
  • “Google’s current method of increasing diversity resulted in what is known as reverse discrimination, because Caucasian and Asian males were not being selected for jobs and promotions due solely to their status as non-females or non-favored minorities.”

Damore’s Attorney

workplace discrimination

Damore’s attorney is Harmeet Dhillon, a civil rights lawyer who has taken on cases that push back against the Bay Area’s progressive tendencies. As part of a press conference, Dhillon, a California representative for the Republican National Committee, elaborated more on the very lengthy complaint and argued that her current clients are far from alone. Dhillon suggested that she had spoken with “dozens” of employees at Google to formulate the lawsuit and that she expects there will be “future lawsuits” to explore, as well.

California Employment Law

Protected classes called out in both state and federal statutes, such as sex, religion, race, etc. are broadly defined. As such, every person can face discrimination, and it is just as unlawful if targeted against white men as it would be against any other group. As long as an employee is negatively impacted because of his or her membership in a protected class, that counts as discrimination and could form the basis for a lawsuit. Further, California law also bans private employers from discriminating against workers due to their political views, affiliations, or activities.

If you are living in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, or San Diego and feel you have been a victim of workplace discrimination, contact Kingsley & Kingsley to speak with one of our experienced lawyers.

Kingsley & Kingsley

16133 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 1200
Encino, California 91436
Phone: 888-500-8469
Local: 818-990-8300 (Los Angeles Co.)

eeoc strategic plan

EEOC Still Seeking Input on FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan

EEOC Strategic Plan  eeoc strategic plan

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is still seeking public comment on its draft Strategic Plan that covers Fiscal Years 2018 to 2022. The draft plan has not been approved by the Commission as comments are due by 11:59 pm ET on January 8, 2018.  The draft plan can be found at According to the EEOC, the Strategic Plan serves as a framework for the Commission in achieving its mission through the strategic application of the EEOC’s law enforcement authorities, preventing employment discrim­ination and promoting inclusive workplaces through education and outreach, and organizational excel­lence. 

Every four years, Congress requires executive departments and agencies to develop and post a strategic plan on their public website. These plans direct the agency’s work and lay the foundation for the development of more detailed annual plans, budgets, and related program performance information in the future. The Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018-2022 establishes a framework for achieving the EEOC’s mission to “Prevent and remedy unlawful employment discrimination and advance equal opportunity for all in the workplace,” so that the nation might soon realize the Commission’s vision of “Respectful and inclusive workplaces, with equal employment opportunity for all.”

EEOC Strategic Objectives

To accomplish its mission, the EEOC is committed to pursuing the following strategic objectives and outcome goals:

  1. Combat and prevent employment discrimination through the strategic application of EEOC’s law enforcement authorities. The corresponding outcome goals are: 1) Discriminatory employment practices are stopped and remedied, and victims of discrimination receive meaningful relief; and 2) Enforcement authorities are exercised fairly, efficiently, and based on the circumstances of each charge or complaint. 
  2. Prevent employment discrimination and promote inclusive workplaces through education and outreach. The corresponding outcome goals are: 1) Members of the public understand the employment discrimination laws and know their rights and responsibilities under these laws; and 2) Employers, unions, and employment agencies (covered entities) prevent discrimination, effectively address EEO issues, and support more inclusive workplaces.
  3. Organizational Excellence. The corresponding outcome goals are: 1) A culture of excellence, respect and accountability; and 2) Resources align with priorities to strengthen outreach, education, enforcement and service to the public. The plan also identifies strategies for achieving each outcome goal and identifies 12 performance measures (with yearly targets) to track the EEOC’s progress as it approaches FY 2022.

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sexual orientation discrimination california

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Sexual Orientation Discrimination Case

Sexual Orientation Discrimination sexual orientation discrimination california

On December 12, 2017, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging whether Title VII protects employees from sexual orientation discrimination. In Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, Case No. 17-370 (2017), the high court declined to hear Ms. Evans’ appeal, essentially closing the door on her claim and leaving intact a prior appellate court ruling that prevents employees in the Eleventh Circuit from pursuing a claim of sexual orientation discrimination against an employer. The Supreme Court provided no explanation for its decision.


From 2012 to 2013, Jameka Evans worked as a security officer at Georgia Regional Hospital at Savannah (the “Hospital”). Evans, who describes herself as a gay female, presented herself at work in  stereotypically “male” ways—for example, she wore a male uniform, had a short haircut, and wore male shoes. During her time at the Hospital, her supervisors “harassed her because of her perceived homosexuality, and she was otherwise punished because [of her] status as a gay female.” After filing complaints to Human Resources with no changes in working conditions, Evans eventually left her job.

After exhausting her remedies with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Evans filed a pro se complaint against the Hospital, Moss, Clark, and Powers in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. In her complaint, Evans specifically alleged that she was subjected to workplace discrimination because her “status as a gay female did not conform to gender stereotypes associated with women.”

Prior to service of the complaint, Evans’ case was referred to a magistrate judge. The magistrate recommended that the complaint be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. In the magistrate’s view, Evans’ claim of discrimination based on her sexual orientation failed because Title VII “was not intended to cover discrimination against homosexuals.” The district court adopted the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation without addressing any of Evans’ objections. The district court then dismissed Evans’ case with prejudice.

Evans appealed, and the EEOC filed a supportive amicus brief, maintaining that sexual orientation discrimination “fall[s] squarely within Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex.”  The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals previously dismissed her claim holding that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Evans appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Federal Appellate Courts

Federal courts around the country are divided on whether sexual orientation is protected by Title VII. The law does not specifically reference sexual orientation. While some courts, including federal district courts in Pennsylvania have held that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited as a form of “sex” discrimination, other courts ave refused to recognize such a claim holding that it is up to Congress to change the law. 


New Regulations Protect Transgender Employees in California

FEHC Amends Regulations on Sex Discrimination

The California Fair Employment and Housing Council (“FEHC”) recently adopted amendments to the existing regulation on sex discrimination, which include transgender identity and expression. Some changes are language or definition related:

  • “Gender at birth” has even changed to “gender assigned at birth.”
  • “Opposite sex” has been replaced with “different sex.”
  • The definition of “gender identity” has been expanded.
  • A definition for “transitioning” has been added. 

Additional revisions or additions to FEHC regulations cover employment topics of job applications, employee restrooms, fringe benefits, reference to employees using their preferred gender and name.

transgender employees


Employment Applications 

An employer may not require that applicants identify themselves on the basis of sex. However, this information may be requested on a voluntary basis. An employee’s misidentification of gender on an application is not a fraudulent misrepresentation, unless sex is a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ). Also, an employer may not discriminate based on an applicant’s failure to select a gender on an application form.


Employees must be permitted to use facilities that correspond to their gender identity or gender expression. An employer may not require medical proof prior to allowing use of the facility of the employee’s choice, but may make a confidential and reasonable inquiry of an employee to ensure appropriate access. All single occupancy facilities under the employer’s control must use gender neutral signage, such as Restroom, Unisex, Gender Neutral, or All Gender Restroom. Per the FEHC, facilities subject to the above rules include locker rooms, dressing rooms, dormitories, and other similar facilities. 

Fringe Benefits

It is unlawful for an employer to condition the availability of fringe benefits upon an employee’s sex, including gender identity and gender expression. Except whereas otherwise required by state law, an employer or other covered entity shall not require unequal employee contributions by similarly situated male and female employees to fringe benefit plans based on the sex of the employee, nor shall different amounts of basic benefits be established under fringe benefit plans for similarly situated male and female employees. It shall be unlawful for an employer or other covered entity to have a pension or retirement plan that establishes different optional or compulsory retirement ages based on the sex of the employee.

Preferred Name and Pronoun

An employer must use the employee’s preferred gender, name, and/or pronoun, including gender neutral pronouns if the employee so requests. Employers may be liable under the Fair Employment and Housing Act for failure to do so. However, employers may use the gender and legal name indicated on government issued identification when necessary to meet a legally mandated obligation. Fringe Benefits. Employers may not condition the availability of fringe benefits on sex, including gender identity or gender expression. Practical Implications Employers should take steps now to ensure that their applications, policies, procedures and facilities are legally current. Employers are encouraged to consult with counsel to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.

Questions about the California Fair Employment and Housing Regulations?

An experienced California employment lawyer can quickly answer your questions about the Fair Employment and Housing Council. To discuss new regulations, or any of California’s discrimination laws, feel free to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Call toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us via email.

Kingsley & Kingsley

16133 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 1200
Encino, California 91436
Phone: 888-500-8469
Local: 818-990-8300 (Los Angeles Co.)

fair employment posters

Updated Employment Posters from California Department of Fair Employment and Housing

fair employment postersThe California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has been busy in 2017, releasing updated posters covering Employment Discrimination, Family Care and Medical Leave (CFRA Leave), Pregnancy Disability Leave, Sexual Harassment, Pregnancy Discrimination, and Workplace Harassment. DFEH has organized the posters on their website, categorized by the poster/brochure audience or intent (i.e. those that are required versus those designed for employment, housing, business establishments, or hate/violence).

Required Posters  

DFEH has placed all required posters and brochures on a single webpage in multiple languages. Even with the numerous updates, DFEH points out the absence of changes in some posting obligations. Employers may post any version of the Workplace Discrimination poster (titled: California Law Prohibits Workplace Discrimination and Harassment / DFEH-E07P-ENG / formerly DFEH-162) from December 2014 to the present. Also, employers may post any version of the CFRA/Pregnancy Disability Leave notice (DFEH-100-21) from July 2015 to the present. Lastly, employers may post any version of the Rights and Obligations as a Pregnant Employee notice (DFEH-100-20) from April 2016 to the present.

All California employers are required to display the following poster:

Most California employers also must display two other posters:

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