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5 Updates to California Employment Laws For 2020

By hire-up-staffing in HRUpdates

With each passing year employers are subject to new laws that regulate the way they operate their business. 

It can be difficult to keep up with these laws and understand how they apply to their business.

To help you understand the law changes for 2020 and what’s coming in 2021, we’ve compiled a comprehensive blog post based on the a through and informative presentation made by local attorney Susan Hatmaker

Susan handles labor and employment law and litigation. She counsels and trains employers about employment compliance on state and federal law. She also provides representation of school districts in charter school law and related matters. More information on her and her firm can be found at the end of this article. 

There is plenty to learn in the following article, so let’s dive right in. 

#1 – SB 188 Discrimination – Hairstyles

SB 188 amends the definition of race under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to include traits historically associated with race including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles. It’s known as the Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act. 

What Hairstyles Are Included?

Protective hairstyles include, but are not limited to, hairstyles such as: 

  • Braids 
  • Locks 
  • Afros
  • and Twists 

SB 188 specifically addresses that hair remains a rampant source of racial discrimination with serious economic and health consequences. 

It also states that dress code and grooming practices that prohibit natural hair have a disparate impact on individuals as these policies are more likely to deter these applicants and burden or punish certain employees. 

Therefore, must review and appropriately revise dress and grooming policies to ensure they are in compliance and do not discriminate against hair texture and/or protective hairstyles. 

Company Tip: Consider writing a gender neutral dress code policy that doesn’t interfere with any specific styles related to any culture or race. 

#2 – SB 142 Lactation Accommodation Lactation Accommodation

SB 142 revises the lactation accommodation requirements for employers. 

  • Employers must provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee each time the employee has need to express breast milk. 
  • Employers must provide the employee with the use of a room or other location to express breast milk in private.
  • If a multipurpose room is used, the use of the room for lactation use must take precedence over other uses when needed for lactation. 

Under SB 142, the lactation room/location cannot be a bathroom and must be in close proximity to the employee’s work area, shielded from view, and free from intrusion while the employee is expressing milk.

Employers must also provide access to a sink with running water; and refrigerator suitable for storing milk in close proximity to the employee’s workspace. 

The lactation room/location must also comply with all of the following: 

  • Be safe, clean, and free of hazardous materials. 
  • Contain a surface to place a breast pump and personal items. 
  • Contain a place to sit. 
  • Have access to electricity or alternative devices, including, but not limited to, extension cords or charging stations, needed to operate an electric or battery-powered breast pump. 

Employers can comply with SB 142 by designating a lactation location that is temporary, due to operational, financial, or space limitations. Temporary spaces cannot be a bathroom and must be otherwise compliant with the lactation room requirements.

Employers with less than 50 employees may be exempt from a lactation requirement if they can show the requirement imposes an undue hardship by causing significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business. 

Denial of reasonable break time or adequate space to express breast milk violates Labor Code section 226.7 and the aggrieved employee may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner.

Employers are also prohibited from discharging, discriminating or retaliating against an employee for exercising or attempting to exercise any lactation right and the aggrieved employee may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner. 55 Lactation Accommodation. 

Employers must implement a policy regarding lactation accommodation that includes the following:

  • A statement about an employee’s right to request lactation accommodation
  • The process by which the employee requests lactation accommodation
  • The employer’s obligation to respond to the lactation accommodation request
  •  A statement about an employee’s right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for any violation

Policy must be included in the handbook or policies made available to employees and distributed to new employees upon hire and whenever they ask about or request New Parent Leave. 

Company Tip: Start thinking about the decor and privacy around a location that can be used for lactation and include this in your company benefits as a selling point in working at your organization. 

#3 –  AB 1804 Occupational Injuries and Illness Reporting Reporting 

AB 1804 requires employers to immediately report serious occupational injury, illness or death to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) by telephone or through an online mechanism established for this purpose. Until this online mechanism is available, employers are permitted to make the report by telephone or email. 

Company Tip: Remember if an ambulance is called, you should report it! The ambulances are the easiest way for OSHA to find that a company wasn’t in compliance with this new law. 

#4 – AB 547 Sexual Violence and Harassment Prevention Training for Janitorial Workers 

AB 547 requires the DLSE to issue 2 types of registrations for employers of janitorial workers; One for registrants without employees; and one for registrants with employees.

AB 547 also prohibits the DLSE from approving a registration if the employer does not include in their written application the name of any subcontractor or franchise servicing contracts affiliated with branch locations and the name of any subcontractor on franchise servicing the contracts. 

AB 547 requires the DLSE to create a training advisory committee that compiles a list of qualified trainers that employers are required to use for the biennial in-person sexual violence and harassment prevention training for janitorial workers. 

The list will be on the DLSE’s website by January 1, 2021.

Under AB 547, employers must document and certify compliance with the training requirements on a form specified by the DLSE. 

Company Tip: Inquire about the Hire Up training classes that we offer through our HR division!

#5 – AB 1355 Revisions to the California Consumer Privacy Act

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) grants consumers, which includes job applicants and employees, rights regarding their personal information held by businesses, including the right to request disclosure of the specific personal information the business has collected regarding the consumer within 45 days. 

Companies are subject to the CCPA if they: 

  • Do business in California
  • Collect the personal information of consumers, including job applicants and employees


  • Have annual gross revenue over $25 million; or annually receive, sell or share personal information about more than 50,000 or more California residents or households or 50,000 devices
  • or derive 50% or more of their annual revenue from selling personal information about consumers.

AB 1355 will extend the deadline for compliance with portions of the CCPA to January 1, 2021. 

However, as of January 1, 2020, employers subject to the CCPA must disclose to job applicants and employees the categories of personal information it collects about them and the purposes for which the information will be used.

Such employers are then prohibited from using any personal information about job applicants and employees for any purpose that is not listed on this required disclosure. 

Company Tip: Write a policy about this early and have a practice of transparency. If you need help in writing the policy, inquire about the HR division options to help you create one for your organization. 

Final Notes

That wraps up the list of the top 5 new laws and law updates that become effective this year and next.

Remember, this article is for informational purposes only. All rights are reserved. Nothing stated in this article is intended to imply that the results of any current or future cases are guaranteed or may be predicted. There is no substitute for legal advice. The law is frequently changing. 

The material contained herein is a compilation of materials from separate and unique sources and is the sole property of Hatmaker Law Group. These materials are not intended to replace legal counsel or serve as legal advice on specific facts. Instead, the information provided should be used to identify issues and obtain basic information concerning labor, employment, and human resources concerns. 

To the fullest extent permitted by law, any reproduction of these materials in any form or incorporation of its contents into any information retrieval system or any use without the express written consent of Hatmaker Law Group is prohibited. Please direct all inquiries to Laura Dakin, Office Manager, Hatmaker Law Group, 7522 N. Colonial, Ste. 105, Fresno, CA 93711, (559) 374-0077.