California Legislature Considers Employment-Related Bills

Employment Law

The California legislature has several employment-related bills under consideration, including a law that would prohibit discrimination against marijuana users, another that would provide protections for employees with safety concerns and allow them to leave work without notice, and a measure that would establish a four-day workweek in the state.

Below are some details about the pending bills.

  • Protection for marijuana users. Assembly Bill 2188 would amend the Fair Employment and Housing Act to make it an unlawful practice for an employer to discriminate against an adult applicant or employee based on the “person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace” as well as on failed drug tests that detect “nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites in … urine, blood, hair, or bodily fluids.” The bill features exceptions for certain industries (such as federal contractors and licensees as well as the building and construction trades) and does not permit employee use of cannabis on the job. Still in committee, the measure faces opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce. 
  • Safety during a state of emergency. Employees who refuse to report to or leave a workplace because they “feel unsafe” in the event of a state of emergency or “emergency condition” would be protected by Senate Bill 1044, which would ban employers from taking or threatening adverse action against the worker. The bill defines an “emergency condition” as “[a]n event that poses serious danger to the structure of a workplace or to a worker’s immediate health and safety” or “[a]n order to evacuate a workplace, a worker’s home or the school of a worker’s child.” 
  • Shortened workweek. A proposal with potentially significant impact, Assembly Bill 2932 would drop the standard workweek in California from 40 hours to 32 hours for nonexempt employees of employers with more than 500 employees. To avoid wage loss for workers, the measure would require employers to maintain the compensation rate of pay on the 40-hour workweek scale; it would also provide overtime payment for work performed beyond 32 hours each week. The controversial bill failed to meet the deadlines for committee consideration and is no longer pending for this legislative session.

To read AB 2188, click here.

To read SB 1044, click here.

To read AB 2932, click here.

Why it matters: AB 2188 and SB 1044 remain pending in the legislature and could become law by the end of the year if passed and signed by the governor. While AB 2932 failed to move forward this year, the bill generated headlines and could be back for the next legislative session.



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