New California Statues for 2004

SB 478 - requires employers to provide protected leave to an employee who's a victim of serious or violent felony. The leave entitlement also applies if the worker is the immediate family member of a victim, the domestic partner of a victim, or the child of a domestic partner of a victim of a serious or violent felony. The statute affirmatively bars employers from discharging or discriminating against employees for taking such leave.

SB 777 - expands the theories for filing whistleblower claims and directs the California attorney general to establish a "whistleblower hot line" to receive calls from persons who have information regarding possible violations of state or federal statues, rules, or regulations. The new law also requires that employers post a list of employees’ rights and responsibilities under the whistleblower laws, including the number for the whistleblower hotline.

SB 796 - allows employees to sue for violations of the California Labor Code without notifying the state's labor commissioner. If the claim is successful, the worker is entitled to recover attorneys’ fees, costs, and damages.

AB 76 - holds employers "responsible" for the sexually harassing conduct of non-employees. Liability arises only if the employer or its agents or supervisors knew or should have known of the misconduct and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.

AB 1719 - requires the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration to notify workers who file a complaint alleging an unsafe workplace of the action taken within 14 days. It also directs the state agency to compile and provide on its website information detailing the complaints received and the action taken.