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2019 California Employment Law Update

California has added to the myriad of laws that employers must abide by in the already over-regulated state. Three laws dealing with sexual harassment and associated claims that directly affect employers took effect on January 1, 2019:

  1. Prohibited Non-Disparagement Clauses. Senate Bill 1300 (Government Code Secs. 12940, 12965) prohibits employers in California from requiring employees to sign non-disparagement agreements under certain circumstances, including to release the employer from claims, including sexual harassment, as a condition for a raise or bonus, or as a condition of employment. Non-disparagement agreements prohibit employees from saying or writing anything derogatory about the employer. There are exceptions to this new law, which make it important to consult with an attorney regarding these types of matters or when implementing any policies.
  2. Protection Against Retaliatory Complaints. Assembly Bill 2770 (Civil Code Sec. 47) prohibits the filing of a defamation lawsuit if a sexual harassment allegation in the workplace was “based on credible evidence” and made “without malice.” The law was adopted because of the fear that the threat of a defamation lawsuit would prevent employees from making complaints or providing information relating to sexual harassment. The law adds some protections for employers with knowledge of the harassment and allows them to warn other potential employers without the threat of a defamation lawsuit by a former employee.
  3. Prohibited Confidentiality Agreements. Senate Bill 820 (Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 1001) prohibits “secret settlements” or nondisclosure agreements involving sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination cases. It also gives claimants in sexual abuse or sexual discrimination cases the option of keeping their names confidential.

Your employment manuals and/or policies should be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that they comply with all applicable state and local laws. The attorneys at Vogt, Resnick & Sherak, LLP are available to assist with all of your business and employment policy needs.