With all of the media attention focused on California’s new paid sick leave law, other California bills affecting employers and employees in California that were signed by Gerry Brown seem to have quietly slipped under the radar. Two of these are Assembly Bill 2053, authored by Lorena Gonzalez (D – San Diego) and Assembly Bill 1443, authored by Nancy Skinner (D – Berkeley). Both bills take effect on January 1, 2015.
Currently, California Government Code Section 12950.1 requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide at least 2 hours of training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees. A.B. 2053 amends that section to also include “prevention of abusive conduct,” or bullying, as a training subject. Abusive conduct 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.” This may include “repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance.” The amendment does not indicate how much time should be devoted to this topic within the mandated 2 hours, nor does it specify the content. Undoubtedly, these issues will be addressed by forthcoming regulations.
AB 1443 expands California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act protections to unpaid interns and volunteers. Consequently, employers may now be liable for violation of the FEHA if their employees sexually harass unpaid interns or volunteers.