The law is always changing. Each year, judges render decisions and legislators pass bills that change the legal landscape of California. In 2023, workers will benefit from a host of new or reinforced protections as a result of this ongoing legal evolution.
It is important to stay informed about major advances made by lawmakers so that you can better understand what your rights are – and how to exercise them – at any given moment in time. When it comes to legal protections for workers, even the most sweeping advances are of little use to anyone if those workers whom the law seeks to protect are unaware of what their rights are and how to enforce them.
The changes ahead
California law is famously protective of workers’ rights. In virtually all areas of employment law, California extends more significant protections to workers than federal law does and that the laws of other states do. In 2023, California’s worker-focused legal culture will expand its reach in a variety of ways.
For example, California’s SB 523 amends the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which applies to employers with a minimum of five workers on their payroll. The amendment explicitly safeguards against discrimination on the basis of sex in the form of reproductive health discrimination. Meaning, a worker cannot be demoted, dismissed, or otherwise discriminated against due to their reproductive health choices.
Another change, which may affect all workers in a straightforward way and workers with disabilities in a specific way, is the passage of California’s AB 2188. This new law prohibits discrimination against workers who use cannabis off-duty and off-site. While employers may still prohibit workers from being impaired on the job (and drug-free performance from those who must legally submit to controlled substance testing), employees cannot generally be penalized for cannabis use off the job. This includes cannabis use by workers who may need to request a reasonable accommodation for cannabis use in certain contexts.
These are only two of the many employment-related legal changes that will be made in California in 2023. Don’t forget that remaining informed can help you to better understand your evolved legal rights and when to exercise them.