More new California laws arriving in 2020: School suspensions, religious displays, nursing mothers, and more

Following up on last week's report, the Times presents part two of various laws going into effect in 2020 following California Gov. Gavin Newsom's signature in 2019. Here are 5 more pieces of legislation highlighted to keep in mind going into the new year. (Archived city of Blythe file photo by Roberto Flores/Palo Verde Valley Times)

(Note: This part two Times report highlights more of the new 2020 laws featured; for part one of the report, visit our website at: pvvt.com.)

With the New Year comes new 2020 California legislations for residents, families, businesses, and the Blythe community at-large to be aware of.

A bevy of laws go into effect this year, following California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature in 2019 – five more pieces of legislation highlighted to keep in mind going into the new year of which include:

Mandated – Employers accommodations for nursing mothers (SB 142)

SB 142, signed by Newsom in Oct. 10 and authored by 11th District Senator Scott Wiener, mandates employers make accommodations to employed nursing mothers.

“Existing law prohibits an employer, who is required by law to give an employee a rest period during a workday, from requiring the employee to work during the rest period. Existing law requires an employer to pay the employee one additional hour of pay, at the employee’s regular rate of compensation, for each rest period not provided. Existing law requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time to employees desiring to express milk for the employee’s infant child. Existing law also requires an employer to make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room, or other location, other than a bathroom, in close proximity to the employee’s work area, for the employee to express milk in private. Existing law exempts an employer from the break time requirement if the employer’s operations would be seriously disrupted by providing that time to employees desiring to express milk. Existing law subjects employers who violate these provisions to a civil penalty of $100 per violation and authorizes the Labor Commissioner to issue citations for those violations,” states SB 142. “This bill would instead require an employer to provide a lactation room or location that includes prescribed features and would require an employer, among other things, to provide access to a sink and refrigerator in close proximity to the employee’s workspace, as specified. The bill would deem denial of reasonable break time or adequate space to express milk a failure to provide a rest period in accordance with state law. The bill would prohibit an employer from discharging, or in any other manner discriminating or retaliating against, an employee for exercising or attempting to exercise rights under these provisions and would establish remedies that include filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner. The bill would authorize employers with fewer than 50 employees to seek an exemption from the requirements of these provisions if the employer demonstrates that the requirement posed an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense, as specified. The bill would require an employer who obtains an exemption to make a reasonable effort to provide a place for an employee to express milk in private, as specified.”

California and independent contractors (AB 5)

A historic and watershed piece of legislation, AB 5 was signed into law on Sept. 18, and effectively redefines the classification of independent contractors to California employers – which, for some, includes the respective full-fledged employee benefits therein.

The law is expected to be legally – and publicly – challenged in the November 2020 election via ballot initiative by opposing Fortune 500 companies.

“Willful defiance” no longer enough for K-8 suspensions (SB 419)

Effective July 1, 2020, SB 419 will prohibit school districts, including charter, from suspending enrolled K-8 students for “willful defiance.”

“Commencing July 1, 2020, the bill would additionally prohibit the suspension of a pupil enrolled in a school district or charter school in grades 4 and 5 for disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of those school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties,” states SB 419. “The bill, from July 1, 2020, until July 1, 2025, would prohibit the suspension of a pupil enrolled in a school district or charter school in any of grades 6 to 8, inclusive, for those acts.”

Existing law already prohibits student suspensions due to willful defiance in grades K-3.

Religious displays on doors (SB 652)

SB 652, signed into law by Newsom on July 30, protects religious freedoms by prohibiting landowners and/or property owners from banning religious displays on respective residents’ doors.

Additionally, SB 652 – which was championed by 26th District Senator Ben Allen – states:

“This bill would prohibit the governing documents of a common interest development (e.g. homeowner associations, condominiums, timeshares, etc.) from prohibiting the display of religious items, as defined, on the entry door or entry door frame of a common interest development member’s separate interest. The bill would provide an exception to this prohibition for maintenance, repair, or replacement of an entry door or door frame, as specified.”

Exceptions include displays threatening public health or safety; hinders opening or closing of an entry; violates federal, state or local law; contains graphics, language or any display that is obscene or otherwise illegal; and/or is “individually or in combination with any other religious item displayed or affixed on any entry door or door frame that has a total size greater than 36 by 12 square inches, provided it does not exceed the size of the door.”

Human trafficking awareness, hotel training (SB 970)

In an effort to combat human trafficking, legislature effective Jan. 1 includes SB 970.

“Existing law requires specified businesses and other establishments to post a notice, as developed by the Department of Justice, that contains information relating to slavery and human trafficking, including information regarding specified nonprofit organizations that a person can call for services or support in the elimination of slavery and human trafficking. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) makes specified employment practices unlawful, including the harassment of an employee directly by the employer or indirectly by agents of the employer with the employer’s knowledge. FEHA requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide at least 2 hours of prescribed training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees within 6 months of their assumption of a supervisory position and once every 2 years, as specified,” states SB 970. “This bill would amend FEHA to require specified employers to provide at least 20 minutes of prescribed training and education regarding human trafficking awareness to employees who are likely to interact or come into contact with victims of human trafficking, as defined. The bill would establish a schedule for compliance commencing January 1, 2020. The bill would authorize the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, in the case of an employer violation of the bill’s requirements, to seek an order requiring compliance.”

The law’s Section 1, subsection 12950.3, defines “employer” for SB 970 as a hotel or motel.

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