California employers recognize it is crucial to have a firm and clear understanding of the current state of employment law. There are several new California employment laws coming in 2022 involving important workplace issues employers should be aware of. Two of these laws involve non-disclosure agreements and workplace health and safety.
New requirements in non-disclosure agreements
Currently, California’s Stand Together Against Non-Disclosures (“STAND”) Act forbids California employers from entering into settlement agreements that prohibit disclosure of information related to sexually based claims of discrimination or harassment.
In 2022, the STAND act will include two additional provisions. One will prevent non-disclosure terms in any agreement involving an employee’s separation from employment, even if a lawsuit or claim was never filed. The second change applies these requirements to all forms of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, rather than only those sexually based.
All non-disclosure agreements will be required to contain language telling the employee they have a right to consult an attorney and providing a reasonable time to do so. A reasonable time is generally considered 5 days.
New workplace health and safety rules
Employers understand the importance of providing a healthy and safe workplace for all employees. Starting in 2022, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“Cal/OSHA”) will be able to issue employer citations for enterprise-wide violations and egregious violations.
An enterprise-wide violation can be issued to employers with more than one worksite, if the employer has a written policy found to violate health and safety laws or if Cal/OSHA determines the employer has a pattern or practice of committing the violation on one or more worksite. In these situations, the new law presumes an enterprise-wide violation occurred, although the presumption can be rebutted by the employer through evidence.
An employer will be said to have committed an egregious violation if they intentionally made no reasonable effort to stop a known violation or committed willful violations resulting in many injuries, high rates of worker injury or illness, or a worksite catastrophe.
An egregious violation citation may also result from an employer’s history of previous egregious violations, or if Cal/OSHA concludes the employer intentionally disregarded the health or safety of its employees or the number of violations is shown to undermine any health and safety program’s effectiveness. Finally, evidence of an employer’s bad faith regarding violations could result in an egregious violation.
Knowledge is the best way to ensure full compliance with all new laws. Employers with questions about these or any other new employment related laws could benefit by speaking with an attorney.