Every July 1, as Californians revel in the heat and joys of summer, they also welcome a plethora of new laws, rules and regulations.
This year’s list of changes included several that impact the work place, vehicle safety, online consumer protections, changes in gun control regulations, and recreational marijuana requirements.
Employers and Employees
Included among new regulations implemented this week by the California Fair Employment and Housing Council (FEHC) are policies aimed at preventing discrimination related to national origin or national origin groups beginning with a clarification of the following definition of the terms:
National original groups will now include, but not be limited to, ethnic groups, geographic places of origin, and countries that are not presently in existence. An undocumented applicant or employee is now defined as an applicant or employee who lacks legal authorization under federal law to be present and/or to work in the United States.
Effective July 1, the FEHC also implemented new regulations regarding its English only policies. Employers can no longer adopt or enforce work place policies that forbid the use of any language in the workplace, including English-only rules unless it is justified by an overriding and legitimate business purpose, i.e., necessary to the safe and efficient operation of the business etc. In such instances, the restriction must be narrowly tailored or required under other very limited conditions.
Height and Weight Requirements
Another change effective this week is that an employers’ height and weight requirements may be considered discriminatory. According to the FEHC, requirements that applicants for certain positions must meet certain height and weight requirements may have a disparate impact on those of certain national origins. If the disparate impact can be established, such requirements would be considered unlawful, unless the employer can prove they are both job related and justified by the needs of the business.
Employer CDL Presentation Requirements
The FEHC has also placed new restrictions on employers’ ability to require applicants or employees to present a driver’s license. Under the new regulations this can only be required when possession of a license issued under the Vehicle Code it is required by state or federal law, or if the possession of a driver’s license is “otherwise permitted by law.”
Included among the other big FEHC changes that took effect this week are the agency’s anti-retaliation provisions which explain how it is unlawful for any employer “to retaliate against any individual because the individual has opposed discrimination or harassment on the basis of national origin, has participated in the filing of a complaint, or has testified, assisted, or participated in any other manner in a proceeding in which national origin discrimination or harassment has been alleged.”
Paid Sick Leave IHSS Employees
This week, California’s in-home supportive services (IHSS) workers will finally benefit from the 2014 Healthy Workplaces/Healthy Families Act, which excluded them from paid sick leave eligibility. The change resulted from guidelines detailed in SB3 (California’s Minimum Wage Law) passed in 2016, allows IHSS employees to earn and use paid sick leave hours.
According to the Home Care Providers Union, UDW, the employees earn eight hours of paid sick leave once they have worked 100 hours after July 1. They can use the sick leave once they have worked either 200 additional hours or 60 days after the earned sick leave is accrued–whichever comes first. UDW also noted. The maximum sick leave that can be accrued in 2018 is eight hours, however it will increase every two years until 2022, when IHSS employees will be able to accrue a maximum of 24 hours of sick leave each year.
Buses and Belts
SB20 established new seat belt requirements for bus passengers effective July 1. First, all bus passengers must now be restrained by seat belts provided the bus is equipped with them. In addition, properly restrained by a seat belt or “child passenger restraint system that meets federal safety standards is now required for any child between 8- and 16-years of age who rides a bus equipped with seat belts.
Under the new law, bus drivers are also required to tell passengers before every trip of the new seatbelt requirement and the need to buckle up. Anyone failing to adhere to the new requirements may be fined.
Driving Under the Influence in Passenger for Hire Vehicles
AB2687 made it illegal beginning July 1 for drivers of passenger for hire vehicles like UBER or Lyft to drive transport passengers when the drivers blood alcohol concentration is 0.04 or higher, the same as it is for other commercial drivers in the state.
Change of Regulatory Responsibility
On Sunday, regulatory responsibility for passenger carriers that are not-for-hire like those used by churches or other private and/or nonprofit organizations moved from the California Public Utilities Commission to the DMV.
Effective July 1, SB 313 provides California consumers expanded protections in relation to online disclosure, consent, and cancellation-related obligations. The changes apply to automatic renewal offers (agreements between a company and a consumer that automatically renews at the end of the defined term) and continuous service offers (agreements between a company and a consumer that remains in effect until the consumer cancels the service). The changes are as follows:
Companies that required consumers to cancel an automatic renewal or continuous service offer by telephone or postal mail only must now also provide an online cancellation option. The companies are also required to inform their consumers of this online cancellation option.
Product Pricing After a Free Trial
Companies are now required to provide a clear and visibly noticeable explanation of prices and terms that will can be applied at the end of any trial period. In addition, the consumer must be given an option to affirm their understanding of the prices and terms.
Cancellations After a Trial Period
Under current law companies are required to provide consumers an acknowledgement which details the conditions of the offer including terms, conditions and cancellation policy that the customer can retain for their records. and acknowledgement that consumers can retain that discloses the offer terms, cancellation policy, and information about how to cancel.
Testing, Packaging and Labeling
All recreational marijuana must now be tested, the test results posted, and all product sold must meet all packaging requirements, including a must-meet requirement for child-resistant packaging. Retailers are now prohibited from selling marijuana that does not meet the packaging and labeling requirements. As of July 1, retailers were required to destroy any marijuana product that does not meet the new requirements.
Recreational, edible marijuana products can no longer exceed 10 milligrams of THC per serving, nor can they exceed 100 milligrams of THC per package. Non-edible products can not contain more than 1,000 milligrams of THC per package for recreational use and no more than 2,000 milligrams of THC per package in the medical marijuana market.
AB1135 and SB 880 required that anyone who lawfully possessed an assault weapon from January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2016, that did not have a fixed magazine, including those with an ammunition feeding device (bullet button) were initially required to register the firearm by January 1, 2018. However, Assembly Bill 103 extended the registration period from January 1, to July 1, 2018.
Any person who, as of July 1, owns a firearm that does not bear a serial number assigned to it shall apply to the Department for a unique serial number or other mark of identification by January 1, 2019.