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New California workplace laws go into effect January 1

Workplace discrimination and harassment claims are on the rise, and California lawmakers are making every effort to put an end to these behaviors and make sure that all workers are treated equally. A few essential California workplace laws will go into effect on January 1, 2020, in an effort to curb the mistreatment of employees.

Under AB 9, or the Stop Harassment and Reporting Extension Act, workers will have an extended amount of time to submit their initial harassment or discrimination claims to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Previously, workers had only one year from the date of the illegal misconduct to submit their claims, but they will now have three years. The employee will be asked to provide basic information about the discriminatory or harassing behaviors and will then receive a "right to sue" letter from the DFEH. This extended time will help employees who do not know their rights or are afraid to come forward against a supervisor.

There are also new restrictions on no-rehire provisions under AB 749. In the past, employees complaining about workplace discrimination who settled their claims were forced to sign an agreement saying they were ineligible for re-hire. Under the new law, these no-rehire provisions will not be enforceable against people who have previously filed discrimination claims against their employers in court, in an administrative agency, or in mediation.

Essentially, no re-hire agreements are only allowed in cases where the employer finds that the person engaged in sexual harassment or assault. Also, if there is a non-discriminatory reason to terminate the person's employment, the employer will not have to re-hire the person.

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