California Employers Must Now Give Notice to All New Hires of Their Domestic Violence Rights

On July 1, 2017 a new California law went into effect that adds yet another notice that California employers must give to new employees at the time of hire.

Existing California Law

For several years now, California Labor Code § 230 has prohibited California employers from discharging, or in any manner discriminating or retaliating against, an employee who (a) is a victim of a crime for taking time off to appear in court to comply with a subpoena or other court order as a witness in any judicial proceeding, and/or (b) is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking for taking time off to obtain or attempt to obtain any relief, including, but not limited to, a temporary restraining order, restraining order, or other injunctive relief, to help ensure the health, safety, or welfare of the victim or his or her child.

Labor Code § 230 requires California employers to provide an employee with a reasonable accommodation, when requested, for his or her safety at work.  Such accommodations may include a transfer, reassignment, modified work schedule, or change in work telephone number.  California employers are required to engage in a “timely, good faith, and interactive process” in order to arrive at a reasonable accommodation.

In addition, under California Labor Code § 230.1, California employers with more than 25 employees are also required to provide an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking with time off from work to:  (a) obtain a restraining order, (b) appear in court, or (c) seek medical attention or counseling services.  Employers must allow an employee to use available paid time off, vacation pay, or other compensatory time off for leave taken for these purposes.

Labor Code § 230.1 allows an employee who is terminated, threatened with termination, demoted, suspended, or retaliated against because of his or her status as a victim, or his or her efforts to seek time off under for these purposes, to seek reinstatement and payment for lost wages and benefit.  In addition, the employer may be guilty of a misdemeanor.

New Notice Obligations

California Governor Brown recently signed AB 2337 which requires all California employers to provide all new employees with a “written notice” of their rights as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking under California Labor Code § 230 and § 230.1.  The new law specifically required the California Labor Commissioner to devise a new notice template for this purpose.  You can find that new notice template here.

What Employers Should Do Now

As of July 1, 2017, all California employers must now provide this notice at the time of hiring to all newly hired employees.  In addition, California employers should review their existing employee handbooks and other policy documents to ensure that they are in compliance with California Labor Code § 230 and § 230.1.

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