Costly Workplace Mandates Set for Hearings in Senate This Week

​(June 25, 2012) Three California Chamber of Commerce-opposed “job killer” bills that create costly workplace mandates by expanding discrimination litigation and protected leave requirements will be considered by their respective Senate policy committees this week.

Expands Litigation

  • AB 1450 (Allen; D-Santa Rosa) subjects employers to charges of discrimination for legitimately inquiring into an applicant’s employment history. This bill will be heard in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on June 27.

The bill prohibits employers from considering an applicant’s current “employment status” when hiring for an available position, unless such status satisfies a “bona fide occupational” requirement. To avoid exposing an applicant’s current status as “unemployed” during the application process, however, employers will in essence be barred from asking questions regarding a recent employer, dates, and reasons for separation or risk fines or litigation.

The CalChamber believes an employer should be allowed to investigate the reasons a person is unemployed, including whether the applicant was recently terminated for serious misconduct, before offering that person a job and bringing him/her into the workplace.

  • AB 1999 (Brownley; D-Santa Monica) makes it virtually impossible for employers to manage their employees and exposes them to a higher risk of litigation by expanding the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to include a protected classification for any person who is, perceived, or associated with a family caregiver. This bill will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 26.

The bill proposes to include “family caregiver status” as a protected classification under FEHA to prevent discrimination on such basis, but provides such a broad application of a protected classification that it will essentially encompass almost all employees in the workforce. This hampers an employer’s ability to manage the business, as any adverse employment action the employer takes against an employee could potentially be challenged as discriminatory on the basis of “family caregiver status.”

Approximately 19,500 discrimination claims were filed in 2010 with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing under FEHA, which was 1,000 complaints more than in 2009. Adding this new expansive classification to FEHA will only cause such cases to increase dramatically, placing California employers at a significant disadvantage.

Expands Leave Categories

AB 2039 (Swanson; D-Alameda) creates a burdensome, California–only mandated benefit that significantly expands the category of individuals with serious health conditions for whom an employee can take a leave of absence beyond what is currently included under the federal Family Medical Leave Act. This bill will also be heard in Senate Labor and Industrial Relations on June 27.

The bill seeks to expand the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) by allowing an employee a protected leave to care for adult children, parents-in-law, grandparents and siblings.

CFRA is already costly to employers, and expanding the types of individuals or circumstances under which an employee can take a leave of absence under CFRA, through AB 2039, would only further increase the cost of doing business for employers in California.

Moreover, AB 2039 would also create additional pressure on the state economy, as the bill is identical to AB 59 (Swanson; D-Alameda), which was introduced last year and held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee due to the increased pressure the bill would place on the General Fund.