2012 California Employment Laws (Part 1)

There are so many laws in California that apply to all size businesses, small and big. Many new laws have taken effect on January 1, 2012. Below are four of the most important laws that business owners should be aware of:

  1. Both the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Civil Rights Act are required to cover the definition of “Gender.” The gender definition needs to be made clear that discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression is prohibited. This means employers cannot interfere in any way with how the employees appear or what they are dressed in while they are on duty. This mean that employees have the right to dress and appear any way they want, as long as it is appropriate to the work environment, in order to express their gender. Gender Expression is a person’s gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth. Gender is NOT the same as sex type!
  2. Employers can no longer ask or question the employee about any genetic information that is related directly to the employee. The definition of “Genetic Information” is information about the genetic tests of the employee, genetic tests of the employee’s family members, or the appearance of a disease or disorder in any of the family members. Please note although the law prohibits the employers to ask any questions about the individual’s genetic history, it does not prohibit asking about the employee’s sex type or ethnicity.
  3. According to Labor Code Section 1024.5, employers can no longer perform a credit check for employment purposes. Of course there are some exceptions for this law. Employer can only perform credit check on the following positions: a managerial positiona position involving fiduciary responsibilities (having access to the business accounts with a balance of $10,000 or more), and a position with access to confidential or proprietary information. That said, Civil Code Section 1785.20.5 will require a written notice to be provided to prospective employees prior to requesting a credit report check for employment purposes. Please note that the written notice letter is ONLY for the employees that are going to be dealing with the specified positions above.
  4. All employers are required to increase the employee’s record-keeping from two years to three years. Also the employer needs to specify that an employee has the right to maintain a personal record of hours worked or wages earned.

Any changes to these codes will require the employer to notify the employees in writing within seven days. Also, any information needed to be provided to the employee by the employer must be in the language that the employer uses to communicate to the employee any employment-related information.

The second part of these important laws will be coming in my next blog titled “2012 California Employment Laws (Part 2).”

Written by:
Adriat Markos
TGG Accounting
Department of the Treasury. “2011 Instruction for Form 1099-MISC.” Internal Revenue Service (2011). 21 Jan. 2012. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1099msc.pdf
Michelle La Mar, Jon G. Daryanani, and Erin Smith. “California employment laws taking effect in 2012.” Association of Corporate Counsel (2011). 21 Jan. 2012. http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=f22226e6-63d3-4022-9fac-049f4d468f16

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