Another new year means new laws
As we enter the new decade, California legislators have graced California with a multitude of new laws. Below are some of the most important (or interesting) laws that took effect on January 1, 2020.
3: Minimum wage
Another pay hike is on the way for minimum wage workers. The minimum wage in California goes up by one dollar to $12 an hour for workers at companies with 25 or fewer employees and to $13 an hour for workers at larger companies.
5: Independent workers
While aimed directly at gig workers, this new law may also apply to many more contract or independent worker in California. Under AB-5, workers would be considered employees and not independent contractors if the employer controls the work, directs them in the course of their work or if the worker’s job is part of a company’s core business. Uber and several other businesses are suing to stop Assembly Bill 5.
California becomes the first state to ban workplace and school discrimination based on a person’s natural hairstyle or hair texture. This is known as the Crown Law. Protected hairstyles include braids, twists and locks.
51: Arbitration agreements
Starting January 1, workers can’t be forced into mandatory arbitration by an employer. The law bans mandatory arbitration agreements with employees. The law does not apply to arbitration agreements entered into prior to January 1, 2020.
1343: Sexual harassment
Requires businesses with at least five employees to provide sexual harassment training to its employees within six months of being hired, and every two years after that.
SB 83: Paid family leave
New parents will have more time to care for their child. Benefits under Paid Family Leave will increase from six weeks to eight weeks starting on July 1, 2020.
1482: Rent control
Communities without their own rent control laws will now be covered by statewide rent control protections. The law limits rent increases to 5 percent each year plus inflation, but never above 10 percent total. The law does not apply to housing built in the 15 years prior. The limit is a rolling number so the date housing is excluded changes every year.
AB 652: Religious displays
You have more protections to display religious items like menorahs or crosses outside your home. The law prohibits landlords and homeowner associations from banning the display of religious items on entry doors or door frames. The items cannot be larger than 26 by 12 inches.
30: Domestic partners
What’s good for same-sex couples is good for heterosexual couples. This law allows heterosexual couples to register as domestic partners instead of getting married. Currently, only heterosexual couples age 62 or older were allowed to register as domestic partners because of social security benefits. The new law could help couples with combined higher incomes avoid the federal marriage tax penalty.
419: School suspensions
Students in elementary school can’t be so easily suspended for causing trouble at school. The law bans schools from suspending students in grades 4-8 for disrupting school activities or defying teachers and administrators. Students in grades K-3 already have this protection. High school students must wait until 2025 for the same benefit.
104: Healthcare for undocumented immigrants
California becomes the first state in the nation to offer government-subsidized health benefits to young adults living in the country illegally. The law expands the Medicaid program to include low-income adults age 25 or younger regardless of their immigration status.
AB 2119: Transgender youth
Transgender youth in the foster care system will get appropriate health care. The law is the first in the country to include access to gender-affirming medical services, mental health counseling, hormone therapy and surgery.
273: Statute of limitations
Extends statute of limitations for domestic violence felonies from three to five years.
SB 970: Human trafficking
Operators of motels and hotels in California must provide training to teach its staff how to identify victims of human trafficking.
1707: Smartphones in polling places
Voters may use handheld electronic devices to help them cast their ballots at polling places, as long as they don’t violate other election laws.
This list is by no means exhaustive but gives a highlight of the new laws. One thing to note, if you operate a business the law has drastically changed how you operate and interact with your employees. If you are a business owner, you should seek legal counsel to determine whether your business remains proper under the new laws.
Happy new year and I hope the 2020’s treats you well.
Jeremiah Raxter, Esq
27851 Bradley Rd, Ste 145
Menifee, Ca 92586