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All Press Releases for November 30, 2012 »
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New California Employment Laws Will Go Into Effect Soon

California workers will be affected by a number of new employment laws, including a prohibition against employers asking for employees' personal social media passwords.
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    November 30, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- California workers gained some protections in this year's legislative session. While not as many employment-related bills became law this year as the previous year, about 18 new laws will be taking effect.

Social media privacy

Perhaps the most publicized new law constrains employers from asking employees for password access to personal social media accounts, under most circumstances. The central issue is privacy.

Counting California, only three states have such a law. Some have criticized the legislation, saying that there is really no need for the law, because employers don't generally ask job applicants and employees for Facebook passwords and the like. Antidiscrimination laws already prohibit employers from asking prospective employees about marital status, race, age, religion and other protected information. Having an applicant's social media password would improperly give an employer access to some of that information.

An exception applies when an employee is under investigation for illegal activity or misconduct, but accessing social media is then allowed only for investigative purposes.

In some cases, however, an employee might want the employer to be able to look at the employee's social media accounts for evidence that someone else on the job is harassing the employee. In those cases, the employee and employer would work together to tackle the harassment problem.

Other new laws

The other new laws cover these concerns that take effect January 1, 2013 include:
- expanding document access from personnel records for employees and ex-employees
- clarifying that religious dress and grooming customs are covered under existing freedom of religion laws
- prohibiting discrimination based on an employee's decision to breastfeed
- exempting one-time bonuses and certain other remunerations from a requirement for written commission agreements

A law that didn't make it

Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have barred employers from requiring job applicants to be currently employed when applying for a new job.

Advocates for this measure cited a paper from the National Employment Law Project calling it discriminatory for employers to exclude jobseekers who are unemployed. In the current economy, with many out of work, such a hiring practice makes an unemployed person's task of finding work even harder.

Californians who believe they may be disadvantaged by certain hiring practices, or who wonder how the new employment laws may affect them, can consult with an attorney for advice and guidance. An experienced employment law attorney will keep up with current law and can serve as an up-to-date resource for California workers.

Article provided by Marlin and Saltzman LLP
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