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California and D.C. Busy with New Employment Regulations

California has made multiple legislative changes that will impact the state's employers.

  • First, an employee may take protected leave to care for an expanded list of individuals. Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the state's sick leave policy, an employee may take protected leave for "any individual related by blood or whose association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship."
  • The state will require employers to grant eligible employees requests for up to five days of unpaid bereavement leave upon the death of a family member. Discriminating against employees for exercising their right to bereavement leave will violate the state's anti-discrimination statute.
  • That same statute will also prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on their reproductive health decision-making. Employers may not require employees to disclose information related to that decision-making.
  • In addition, employers may not take or threaten adverse actions against employees for refusing to report to or leave a workplace site because an employee "reasonably believes" that the workplace is unsafe. Unsafe conditions include natural disasters or extreme peril and orders to evacuate a workplace, the employee's home, or the employer's child's school.
  • Lastly, employers may not discriminate against employees for their off-hours cannabis usage. This prohibition is subject to limitations, including exempting certain positions.

The District of Columbia has expanded protections under its Human Rights Act to include independent contractors. Thus, employers may not discriminate against their workers who are independent contractors. In addition, the Act will prohibit employment discrimination against an employee's or applicant's "actual or perceived" status as homeless. The Act defines homelessness as "an individual or family that lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence." D.C. will also significantly limit an employer's ability to use non-compete agreements with employees.