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Additional protections for employees against harassment and discrimination

It is common knowledge that California prohibits discrimination against and harassment of employees. However, recent laws are expanding the protections afforded to employees relating to discrimination and harassment.

First, a new law (AB 1660) makes it illegal "for an employer or other covered entity to require a person to present a driver's license, unless possessing a driver's license is required by law or is required by the employer and the employer's requirement is otherwise permitted by law." So unless possessing a driver's license is absolutely required as part of the employment - and for most jobs it would not be - employers cannot require the employee to present a driver's license.

Another new law (AB 2751) broadens the definition of unfair immigration-related practices to include filing or threatening to file a false report or complaint with any state or federal agency, as well as authorizes a civil action by anyone who is the subject of an unfair immigration-related practice.

Finally, AB 2953 amends the provision of the Fair Employment and Housing Act requiring mandatory supervisor harassment training. The amendment requires training on prevention of "abusive conduct," which is defined as: "Conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer's legitimate business interests." The law provides examples of abusive conduct, such as verbal abuse, derogatory remarks, insults, epithets, or verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating. Another example of abusive conduct is "the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person's work performance." A single act will not constitute abusive conduct, unless it is especially "severe and egregious."

It would be a wise choice to review your employee handbooks and policies to make sure that you are in compliance with these new regulations.

This article is for education and information purposes only; it should not be construed as legal advice. If you have an employment law question for inclusion in a future article, contact Brett T. Abbott at Gubler & Abbott LLP (bta@thecalifornialawyers.com). For specific employment law advice or other legal assistance, contact Gubler & Abbott LLP, (559) 625-9600, 1110 N. Chinowith St., Visalia, CA 93291 (www.thecalifornialawyers.com).

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