I am a human resources manager for a retail store. Are there any new employment laws that I should be aware of?


Yes, there are several new laws that affect the workplace. Some of the new laws include:

Religious Dress and Grooming (AB 1964)

AB 1964 amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and states that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee or applicant based on religious dress and grooming practices that are expressions of religious belief or observance. Employees should be allowed to wear religious clothing, head and face coverings, and jewelry unless allowing the employee to do so would place an undue hardship on the employer. AB 1964 states that an accommodation would not be reasonable if it requires segregation of the employee from the public or other employees. This bill arose in part out of a concern that Sikhs were being denied employment as security guards and police for not removing their beards and head coverings.

Breastfeeding (AB 2386)

FEHA also protects against discrimination based on sex. Under existing law, different treatment based on an individual’s gender, pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth can be sex discrimination. AB 2386 clarifies that discrimination based on breastfeeding or medical conditions related to breastfeeding is a form of sex discrimination. This law was passed after an employee had been terminated for nursing her infant during her meal break. An existing statute also permits employees to take reasonable breaks to express milk.

Employer Use of Social Media (AB 1844)

In addition, Governor Brown signed a law that prohibits an employer from requiring or requesting that an employee or applicant do any of the following:

  1. 1. Disclose usernames or passwords for the purpose of accessing social media,
  2. Access personal social media in the presence of the employer, or
  3. Divulge any personal social media, except in cases where the information is reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation of employee misconduct or illegal activity, provided the social media is used solely for purposes of that investigation.
    This new law does not stop an employer from requiring an employee to turn over usernames, passwords, or other information needed to access an employer-issued electronic device.

Commission Agreements (AB 1396 & AB 2675)

According to a law signed last year, employers have until January 1, 2013 to put into writing any agreements they have to pay employees commissions. The method for computing and paying the commission must be included in the agreement, and a signed copy of the agreement must be given to the employee. The term “commission” is limited to compensation paid for selling the employer’s property or services and based proportionately on the amount of the sale, and does not include certain bonuses. A recent amendment states that a new written contract is not needed each time an employer provides a temporary, variable incentive that increases payments under the agreement.

These laws are effective on January 1, 2013, except for AB 2386 on breastfeeding, which is effective immediately. For additional information about state legislation, go to

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