December 6, 2019 Category: Wrongful Termination
At the conclusion of California’s most recent state legislative session, four new bills were passed that will change the landscape of current laws concerning privacy, harassment, and workplace discrimination. These new laws take effect on January 1, 2020. Both employees and employers should take note of them because they will change workplace procedures and how and when employees can bring claims against their company.
California Consumer Privacy Act Amendments
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was enacted in 2018. The purpose of the act is to create consumer rights as they relate to privacy. The act covers the rules and regulations for accessing, deleting, and sharing personal information that is collected by California businesses. Under the act, a citizen can demand that certain companies provide a full list of any information they have on them. They can also demand to see a list of all third parties that their information has been shared with.
Only certain companies must legally comply with the CCPA. Any company that serves California citizens and makes an annual revenue of $25 million or more must comply. Also, any company that has personal data on at least 50,000 people or that collects more than half of its revenue from the sale of personal data must also comply with the CCPA. There were two amendments were passed by the 2019 California legislature that affect the rights of consumers under the CCPA.
Assembly Bill 25
Assembly Bill 25 limits some of the protections granted to consumers under the CCPA. Mainly, it allows a company to restrict the deletion of data that could be used as evidence in certain employee-employer relationships or claims like wrongful termination.
The purpose of this is to allow companies to keep records of current or former employees without being required to delete the information at the employee’s request. The California legislature decided that this was impractical to force an employer to erase all data on an employee if that employee demanded it in certain situations.
For example, if an employee was accused of misconduct, previously under the CCPA they could file a request and force their employer to delete all information and evidence regarding the misconduct. However, the new amendment allows companies to keep this type of employee record for one year before being required to delete it.
Assembly Bill 1355
The second amendment to the CCPA is Assembly Bill 1355. This law explicitly states that some companies and business communications are not governed by the CCPA, even if they meet the company size or revenue requirements.
The law makes an exemption for businesses and communications that relate to due diligence or the selling and buying of a product. This amendment expires in January 2021 unless it is renewed by the legislature.
Prohibition on Mandatory Arbitrations
Assembly Bill 51 prohibits companies from forcing employees to settle disputes in arbitration. The employee will now have the right to take any claim they have against their company to court.
While the legislature was energized to make the law because of recent nation-wide sexual harassment claims, the effects of the law will be much broader. The prohibition on mandatory arbitration also extends to all claims made under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Experts argue that this law will more than likely face multiple lawsuits from companies challenging its validity. This is a dilemma for current businesses who must now decide to either change company policy to comply with the law or wait and see if the law is still valid after it faces inevitable legal challenges. The second option may expose businesses to potential lawsuits, however, changing company policy could also be a burden and waste time and resources for the company.
Timeline to File Workplace Bias Claim Extended
Workplace discrimination is illegal in California. Assembly Bill 9 adds to the current anti-discrimination laws by giving employees additional time to bring workplace discrimination claims against their employer. Previously, employers only had one year to file a claim. Now, two additional years are given so an employee has a total of three years to contemplate and decide to move forward with their claim.
The new law extends the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a time period that is assigned to a claim. If that time period expires, a person can no longer file a claim regardless of whether they have a valid claim or not. This law does not only affect the employee bringing a claim. It will also affect the employer who will need to revamp current record-keeping procedures to accommodate the new law to avoid future lawsuits and liabilities.