New employment laws effective in new year

New laws cover anti-discrimination, social media

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -  


Several employment-related laws are among the hundreds of new laws which will take effect Jan. 1.

One which would help ease the financial burden for some businesses limits lawsuits over alleged violations of the Americans with disabilities act.

The law bans lawyers from sending pre-litigation “demand money” letters to businesses they claim are violating disability laws, such as not having proper wheelchair ramps.

The new law also limits damages for violations and gives businesses more time to correct them.

The legislation was prompted by lawyers or plaintiffs who made a habit of targeting businesses.

 “Often times these plaintiffs had hundreds or thousands of lawsuits going at one time and it was viewed as basically a shakedown on the business. And so this limits the ability to send those demand letters unless litigation has started,” said Senior Employment Law Counsel Susan Kemp.

The legislation, signed by governor brown in September, had bipartisan support in the legislature but was opposed by some disability rights groups. 

Also going into effect next week:  a law barring employers from demanding social media passwords from employees or applicants, one allowing employees or former employees to inspect their personnel records and a law which clarifies protections for religious dress and grooming practices in the workplace.

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