Understanding California Employment Law Changes For 2019

Employers and employees are bound together in a relationship defined by contract, convention and the law. California employment laws are constantly being reviewed and amended to balance the competing interests of workers and their employers. Here are a few of the changes that employees and employers should be aware of going forward:

Sexual Harassment, Senate Bill 1300

This bill makes it clear that employers may be held responsible for acts of harassment committed by nonemployees if the employer or certain other parties knew or should have known about the conduct and didn’t take immediate and appropriate corrective action. The bill, under certain exceptions, would prohibit an employer from requiring an employee(s) to release their claims under FEHA or stop them from disclosing unlawful acts, including but not limited to sexual harassment, in their workplace, in exchange for continued employment, or in exchange for a bonus or raise.

Another important aspect of SB 1300 is that it limits the situations in which an employer could collect attorney’s fees and costs from a worker who made unsuccessful claims of sexual harassment. Such an award would only be available in cases where the claims were frivolous, unreasonable or groundless when they were brought, or when a plaintiff continued to litigate after the claims lost their merit.

Lactation Accommodation, Assembly Bill 1976

Under this law, employers are required to make reasonable efforts to provide employees with a room or other location expressly for lactation purposes. The room cannot be a bathroom. Employers must be able to show that such an accommodation would be an undue hardship to be allowed to use a bathroom as the designated location, though they would still have to provide a space other than a toilet stall for employees to express milk.

Salary History Inquiries, Assembly Bill 2282

This bill added definitions for the terms, pay scale, applicant and reasonable request to existing law. The new law requires employers to provide someone who has completed an interview with a salary or hourly wage range for the position. Employers continue to be barred from relying on or seeking salary history information from an applicant. The new law does allow employers to ask applicants about their expected salary.

Defamation, Libel and Sexual Harassers, Assembly Bill 2770

This bill protects sexual harassment victims from being sued for defamation by their alleged harassers. It also protects employers from similar suits by harassing employees, thus allowing them to tell other potential employers of the sexual harassment accusations without fear of a defamation lawsuit.

Paid Family Leave Update, Senate Bill 1123

Looking farther ahead, SB 1123 will expand the Paid Family Leave wage replacement program starting in 2021. Employees will have access to the program to handle situations arising from the covered active duty status of their spouses, domestic partners, children or parents.

New Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, Senate Bill 1343

Starting January 1, 2020, all California employers with 5 or more employees must provide supervisory employees with at least 2 hours of sexual harassment training. They would also be required to provide nonsupervisory employees with at least 1 hour of sexual harassment training. The training would be classroom or other effective interactive training and education. Employers would also have to provide sexual harassment training and education to each employee at least once every two years going forward.

Confidential Settlement Agreements, Senate Bill 820

The use of confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements is restricted in this bill, starting January 1, 2019. The bill applies to settlement agreements reached in civil or administrative proceedings based on the following violations:

  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual harassment
  • Workplace harassment or sex discrimination
  • The failure to prevent workplace harassment or sex discrimination
  • Retaliation against a person for reporting harassment or sex discrimination

Courts will no longer be allowed to enter, by stipulation or otherwise, an order that prevents parties from disclosing factual information involved in the settlement. The bill specifically allows for confidentiality orders meant to protect the identity of the victim. It also allows provisions that prevent the parties from disclosing the amount paid in settling the claim. The bill declares these nondisclosure provisions related to factual information of the claim are void as a matter of law and against public policy.

Equality and Corporate Boards of Directors, Senate Bill 826

This bill requires all public companies with the principal executive offices in California to have a minimum of 1 female on its board of directors by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021, companies will be required to have a minimum of 2 female directors if the company has 5 directors, or 3 female directors if the board consists of 6 or more directors. The bill further authorized the Secretary of State to impose fines against companies that do not meet the requirements.

Addressing Sexual Harassment Claims, Senate Bill 224

This bill expands the group of people who can be held liable for sexual harassment to include investors, elected officials, lobbyists, directors and producers. In general, it allows for sexual harassment liability when the victim can show that the defendant held himself or herself out as someone who can help them establish a business, service or professional relationship with the harasser or a 3rd party. It also takes away the old requirement that sexual harassment victims must prove that they were unable to easily terminate the relationship.

Additionally, SB 224 makes the Department of Fair Employment and Housing responsible for enforcing sexual harassment claims. It also makes it illegal for someone to incite or help someone else denial the rights of persons related to sexual harassment actions.

These are just a few of the changes enacted by the California Legislature that will affect employers and employees in 2019 and beyond.

Sources: California Employment Law Report; HR Watchdog; CaliforniaBreastfeeding.org; California Legislative Information


We recently discussed how victims of sexual harassment might have trouble coming forward regarding the accusations. There are several reasons for this; however, these victims need to come forward if they want the harassment to stop. We understand how hard this is to speak out but we can stand by your side.

Sexual harassment impacts victims in more ways than just physical issues. In fact, not all sexual harassment involves touching. The emotional impact of the events is what has a real impact on the victims. It is also what makes it so hard to handle the aftermath. Physical injuries will heal over time, but you might have to work hard to overcome the mental impacts.

One of the first things that you have to do when you are being harassed at work is to let the person know that their behavior isn’t wanted. Tell them to stop. You also need to file an official complaint with the appropriate person at the company. Oftentimes, companies will have one person who takes these complaints; however, you should be able to file it with any person in authority with whom you feel comfortable.

We can help you find out what other actions you need to take. Escalating things beyond the local company might be in order, especially if the company isn’t doing anything to address the issue. We know that you might want to just put this behind you, but you might be able to receive some compensation for the event. This could help you get medical care and mental health care to help you learn to live your life.


Being sexually harassed at work is never a pleasant experience. These situations often come with a lot of uncertainty. People don’t always realize that the mental and emotional turmoil can often be greater than the physical impacts. This is one of the reasons why some people never speak up.

Oftentimes, it takes victims of sexual harassment time to work through their own feelings so they are able to speak up about what happened. This is difficult for some people to understand because they haven’t been through it themselves. In many cases, the victim simply doesn’t want to have to relive the incident through having to discuss it over and over again.

A victim of sexual harassment might feel like they are inferior to their attacker. The attackers usually try to make power plays to ensure that their victim doesn’t feel like they have any options for addressing the harassment.

Sometimes, victims of sexual harassment will try to avoid the harasser and forget about the incident. Unfortunately, this might mean that they are at risk of it happening again. This sets them up for repeated emotional and mental turmoil.

Even though it is difficult, victims of sexual harassment should speak up as soon as possible. Most employers have established a set of rules about who you need to discuss these matters with. While there might be one employee who is charged with handling all reports of sexual harassment, workers should be able to make their report with any supervisor, manager or executive with whom they feel comfortable and who can take action on the report. In some cases, filing a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is also necessary.


Being sexually harassed at work can mean more than just someone touching you in a sexual manner. In fact, many instances of sexual harassment are verbal. This can make the entire workplace uncomfortable. They are all completely unacceptable. We realize that a hostile work environment has a negative impact on you.

Many people don’t realize just how large the scope of sexual harassment is. They think that the person who is making the complaint has to be the person who is being harassed. This isn’t the case. You can file a complaint about sexual harassment even if you only hear another worker having to deal with unwanted advances. We are here to help you learn about the forms of sexual harassment that might occur and to learn how you might address them if they happen to you.

We know that it is often scary to file these complaints. People sometimes worry that they will face retaliation for reporting this type of behavior. We want people to know that retaliatory employment measures are against the law if the complaint that was made is factual. This means that employers can’t take negative actions for making the report.

Whether you are the victim of sexual harassment or someone who has seen it happen, you have options. One thing to consider is following the established chain of command for the complaint. The other is to take immediate legal action. You should learn about the options you have and move on from there. We are here to help you assert your rights from the start of the case through the final resolution.


Being sexually harassed at work can make you not even want to return to your job. This is a difficult position to be in, because you know that you need to go to work to earn an income. Without an income, you can’t support yourself.

We understand that the impacts of sexual harassment can go far beyond the workplace seeming hostile. We are here to help you determine what options you have for handling these situations. The top priority is making sure that you don’t have to deal with the sexual harassment in the future.

Every workplace should have clear guidelines addressing this type of atrocious behavior. It shouldn’t ever be allowed by anyone who you come into contact with during the course of a shift. Customers and clients, vendors, coworkers and supervisors all have to be held to a high standard.

There must also be an established procedure for handling these matters. If this isn’t set or if the company doesn’t do anything, you might need to take action beyond just alerting your superiors of the issues. We can help you to evaluate the options so that you can resolve this serious issue.

We realize that you probably never thought you would be in this situation. We are here to help you through it all. One thing that you might have to consider is getting mental health help so that you can work on moving past the issue. This might not be easy to do, but it can assist you in finding ways to cope so that your future isn’t marred by the incident.


Nobody should ever have to deal with sexual harassment while they are at work. It doesn’t matter what job they do, the workplace should be free of this atrocious behavior. This is true even in traditionally male-dominated professions. Unfortunately, some high profile individuals don’t realize that they are encouraging sexual harassment.

It has recently come to light that White House’s deputy chief of staff for communication’s wife believes that women who join the military should expect to be sexually harassed. While this is an older comment, the fact that it is now making headlines shows just how far women still have to go in their fight for hostile-free workplaces.

In her comment, she notes that the women who are taking assignments in a mostly male space, such as on a submarine, should basically prepare for this type of harassment. This is simply wrong because the men should be able to control themselves when they are working.

Women in the military have the right to expect to be able to do their jobs without having to worry about males behaving inappropriately. In bootcamp, members of all branches are taught to have military bearing. Just because a man is working in close proximity to a woman doesn’t mean that he should forget his military bearing.

Any servicewoman who is harassed in a sexual manner should find out her options for handling the situation. Some women might feel wary of standing up against this behavior, especially when the person is a superior. Still, not taking any action is an almost surefire way to ensure the behavior will continue.


The #MeToo movement has brought sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior into the limelight. Even though some people might be watching what is going on and thinking that the only place this happens is in Hollywood or with wealthy people, this isn’t the case. There is a chance that sexual harassment will occur in any setting. We don’t think that any person should have to work in a place where he or she is being sexually harassed.

We know that you never went to work with the intent of being sexually harassed. When you do go through this at work, you might be in disbelief at first. There is a chance that the harassment starts with just some seemingly innocent mistakes, but then it might progress to even more serious and frequent events.

It is imperative that you try to stop the sexual harassment as soon as it starts. Right from the start, you can clearly state that you aren’t willing to be part of this type of behavior. From there, you will need to let your employer know what is going on.

The atrocities that can occur with sexual harassment can range from comments to actual assaults. If you think that the situation warrants it, you might need to contact the police department to file a report.

If your employer isn’t doing anything to prevent the harassment or to stop it, you might decide that you need to do something. We are here to help you take legal action. We realize that it might be difficult to stand up to your employer, but we can help you do what needs to be done.


No employee should have to deal with sexual harassment of any sort. What many people don’t realize is that not all sexual harassment involves actually touching. In fact, there might not be any physical contact present at all.

In all situations of sexual harassment, the key point is that the gestures aren’t welcomed. This means that you can’t ask a co-worker for a kiss and then scream sexual harassment when you get that kiss. It usually helps if you make a clear statement that lets everyone know that the behavior isn’t acceptable. Simply telling the person to quit might be sufficient.

While it is true that physical harassment, such as an inappropriate squeeze on your body, is one of the most noticeable forms of sexual harassment, there are other forms as well. You can be the victim of sexual harassment for having to listen to co-workers have a sexually explicit conversation or from seeking materials that are geared toward sexual information.

You can also be the victim of sexual harassment if you witness another person being sexually harassed. For example, if you watch a manager grope on one of your co-workers, you can report the behavior as long as it wasn’t welcomed.

All companies should have a clear chain of events to follow when sexual harassment is reported. This can include a list of representatives who you can file the initial complaint with. It is necessary for businesses to take these complaints seriously and to implement an immediate measure to address the current state of affairs. If they don’t address the issue, you might opt to pursue further legal action.

Source: FindLaw, “What is Sexual Harassment?,” accessed June 08, 2018


Filing a complaint regarding sexual harassment can be difficult for a victim. People who haven’t ever been through this type of situation might not realize the emotional toll that it takes on the victim. This is one of the reasons why some victims of sexual harassment might not make complaints right away.

We understand that you might be traumatized by what happened. In fact, you might need to seek out medical and mental health care so that you can start to heal from the incident. We are here to lend an open ear when you can discuss what happened. Once we have that information, we can let you know what options you have to proceed with your case.

Every employer should have information up and policies in place about what you should do if you are sexually harassed. There should be a contact person listed on the posted information. You should speak to this person if you feel comfortable doing so. However, it is also possible for you to speak to another person in authority about the incident.

We understand that you might not know your rights in these cases. One that is especially important is that you have the right to a harassment-free workplace. This doesn’t mean that the employer has to worry about only employees. They also have a duty to prevent vendors and customers from harassing employees.

We are here to help you assert your rights in these cases. From filing an initial complaint through taking more serious legal action, we will stand by your side to help you ensure you don’t have to deal with this type of atrocious behavior again.


All employers should have established protocol for reports regarding harassment or discrimination. While many of these cases can simply be reported to a designated person, this isn’t the case for sexual harassment.

worker who is sexually harassed should be able to go to whichever supervisor or administrator he or she feels comfortable talking to. Some sexual harassment situations are intimate and the worker might not feel comfortable speaking to just anyone. It is a good idea to have men and women who can take these complaints.

One of the priorities that has to occur when a company is handling sexual harassment is that the alleged harasser and the victim will need to be kept away from each other while the investigation is pending. This isn’t always easy but it is fully necessary. It might be difficult to separate the two people, especially if they can’t work on different shifts or in different locations. Still, something has to be done.

Companies can’t make it seem like the victim is placing a burden on the company. Retaliation for factual complaints is forbidden in cases like these. The company also can’t punish the alleged harasser until it is proven that the sexual harassment did occur.

Once the claim is made, it must be investigated. During this process, the investigators have to check with the witnesses and review other evidence. Taking a harsh stance against sexual harassment might mean that the company has to terminate the harasser if the complaint is found factual.

There are cases in which employers don’t take action on sexual harassment complaints. In these instances, the victim might opt to pursue further action.

Source: Entrepreneur, “How to Finally Stop Sexual Harassment at Work,” Jessica Higgins, accessed April 27, 2018