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New laws affecting California employees in 2013: part one

The California Chamber of Commerce publishes an annual list of new workplace laws passed in the previous year. This year California lawmakers passed about 18 laws that will affect the state's employees when they go into effect on January 1.

This year's list was slightly shorter than last year's, which came in at about two dozen, perhaps because of the state's financial focus. Lawmakers seemed more interested in resolving budget issues than workplace ones.

While last year's new employment revolved heavily around wage and hour issues, this year's list touches on a variety of compliance issues facing employees and employers. These issues include discrimination on the basis of religion or pregnancy, record-keeping guidelines and employee privacy concerns.

AB2674 allows employees and former employees to get copies of their employment records within a certain time frame, no later than 30 days after they request those records. This offers more transparency and flexibility to employees who want to see their records.

AB1964 clarifies the state's protections against discrimination, ensuring that they include religious dress and grooming practices. These could include turbans, gowns or beards called for by certain religions. Employers will need to reasonably accommodate these requests using the same framework that they do to accommodate an employee with a disability.

One noteworthy piece of legislation on discrimination was passed by the Legislature but vetoed by the governor. California did not succeed in prohibiting job advertisements stating that applicants must currently be employed. The issue may be revisited next year.

Next week we'll talk about a few more laws going into effect next year and how they may affect the state's employees.

If you are involved in an employment dispute at work, consider speaking with an experienced employment law attorney. They can help you review your case and pursue any legal remedies while making sure your rights as an employee are protected.

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle, "A look at new California workplace laws," Kathleen Pender, Oct. 31, 2012

To learn more about employment law in California, please take a look at our website.

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