Employers must be aware of and revise their employment-related documents to reflect important changes to California and federal law, as recent decisions made by the NLRB and the 9th Circuit have been issued by the EEOC. One of a company’s most powerful ways to deter future litigation is by ensuring that its agreements, handbooks, and policies are legally compliant. In this blog post, we will explore the critical changes to both California and federal employment laws, recent pivotal decisions by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the 9th Circuit, and the latest regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Our focus is to arm employers with the knowledge to revise and refine their employment documents, ensuring they remain robust in the face of evolving legal requirements.

A Review of Employment Law Updates

In 2024, federal law will afford greater protections for pregnant, postpartum and nursing employees. Further, California state law will continue to evolve to provide workers with greater protections in the workplace. In 2023 alone, California enacted the Pay Transparency Act and Updated Reporting Requirements, required that bereavement leave be provided, enhanced retaliation protections surrounding emergency conditions, expanded an employee’s protection under the California Family Rights Act, and made it unlawful for an employer to require applications or employees to disclose information related to reproductive decision-making, or to discriminate against an applicant or an employee based on reproductive health decision-making. Further, California expanded the number of classes protected by the state’s laws against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation and subject to the Equal Pay Act.

Employment Law Updates We Can Expect in 2024

Effective January 1, 2024, California will enact new Cannabis discrimination protections, increase the number of hours employees are entitled to receive as paid sick leave, provide time off for a “reproductive loss event” (including a miscarriage, a failed surrogacy, a stillbirth or an unsuccessful “assisted reproduction,” such as an artificial insemination or embryo transfer).

Additionally, on July 1, 2024, a new law will require nearly all employers in California to create a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, maintain records of any violent incidents, and train employees on how to identify and avoid workplace violence. Further, we will see a substantial increase in the number of protected classes under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, greater protections for employees under the Labor Code, an expansion of other protections for employees in the workplace, and revisions to the CalSavers Retirement Savings Trust Act.

Moreover, recent decisions by the NLRB and the 9th Circuit have important ramifications for California employers. The NLRB has issued two significant rulings which greatly expand protections for employee advocacy in the workplace. Additionally, the NLRB has concluded that workplace rules are unlawful if they have a reasonable tendency to chill employees from exercising their rights to engage in concerted activity. Further, recent decisions of the NLRB and the 9th Circuit have held that employers are permitted to require arbitration as a condition of employment, have narrowed the permissible scope of non-disparagement provisions in settlement and severance agreements, have limited the breadth of non-solicitation agreements and have lowered the bar for employees to establish discrimination claims based on the policies found in an employer’s handbook and related documents.

Finally, the EEOC has recently issued proposed guidelines which explain the legal standards and employer liability applicable to harassment claims under the federal discrimination laws. Specifically, the guidelines incorporate updates on current case law related to workplace harassment and address the many ways in which digital technology can contribute to a hostile work environment.

The employment law landscape changes at a rapid rate. Employers frequently face lawsuits because they are unaware of, and subsequently fail to provide employees with, their legally protected rights. Keeping your employment-related documents legally compliant creates a powerful impediment to future litigation.

Get Guidance From Your Employment Attorney

California employers are tasked with a formidable challenge: to ensure their employment practices remain unassailable in the face of regulatory evolution. The stakes are high, as non-compliance carries the twin threats of legal repercussions and reputational damage. As we’ve navigated through the upcoming changes in federal and state laws, the rulings from the NLRB and the 9th Circuit, and the proposed guidelines from the EEOC, it is clear that an employer’s best defense lies in proactive adaptation.

The key to deterring future litigation and fostering a fair, respectful, and legally compliant workplace is not merely in reacting to legal shifts but in anticipating and integrating them into the fabric of company policies. By working with your employment attorney and keeping employment-related documents not just current but ahead of the curve, employers can secure their operations and their workforce against the tides of change. Let 2024 be a year of legal resilience, built upon the foundation of informed and timely compliance.

DISCLAIMER: Content within this post should not be considered legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Communications made through this post do not create an attorney-client relationship. Hackler Flynn & Associates is not responsible for any content that you may access from third-party resources that may be accessed through or linked to this post.

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