Highlights of New California Laws Effective January 1, 2019

Author: David Kahn

Guest Editor: Tiffany Rouhi

January 7, 2019 9:00am

The California legislature has enacted several interesting and significant laws which go into effect January 1, 2019.  These diverse laws range from areas of employment law/sexual harassment, Cannabis regulation, roadway safety, and environmental health and safety. The following will briefly provide some highlights:

Employment Law/Sexual Harassment

Informed by the Me Too movement several new laws have been enacted to broaden and strengthen existing statutory and common law addressing sexual harassment.   Assembly bill (“AB”) 2770 amends Civil Code Section 47 to provide employers with immunity from defamation lawsuits for disclosing to a prospective employer, credible allegations of sexual harassment made against a former employee.  AB 3109 makes a provision in a contract or settlement agreement, which waives a party’s right to testify in administrative, legislative, or judicial proceedings void and unenforceable.  Senate Bill (“SB”) 820 makes a confidentiality agreement in a settlement agreement, which prevents disclosure of factual information related to claims of sexual harassment void as a mater of law and against public policy.

In other areas of employment law, AB AB2587 eliminates the seven-day waiting period for paid medical leave.  SB 826 requires publicly held corporations with executive offices in California to have a minimum of one female director on its board of directors. SB 224 authorizes the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to enforce sexual harassment claims and makes it unlawful for anyone to deny, aid, incite or conspire in the denial of rights related to sexual harassment actions.

Cannabis Regulation

AB1793 amends the Adult Use of Marijuana Act to speed up the process for dismissal of cannabis-related convictions and AB3067 fixes a loophole to add cannabis to a list of products which cannot be marketed to youth under the age of twenty-one.

Roadway Safety/Department of Motor Vehicles

AB2989 eliminates the helmet requirement for motorized scooter riders who are over the age of eighteen and prohibits scooters on highways with a speed limit over twenty-five miles per hour unless in certain designated bikeways.  SB 179 provides people who apply for a driver’s license or identity card to have the option to select their own gender identity as male, female or non-binary (the latter will receive a card with an “X” gender category).  SB1046 requires repeat DUI offenders and first-time offenders who cause injury to install a breathalyzer on the engine ingestion for a period of twelve to forty-eight months.

Environmental/Health & Safety

AB 1884 was enacted in an effort to curb plastic waste.  Plastic straws will be offered only upon request at full service restaurants (fast food establishments are exempt). However, plastic straws are categorically banned in San Francisco.

Due to a public health crisis including obesity and Type-2 Diabetes, soft drinks will no longer appear as options on kid’s menus, instead milk or water will be offered (you can still buy your child a Coke or juice it just won’t be identified as an option on the menu).

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