This post was authored by Alysha Stein-Manes.

As we ring in the new year, employers will be tasked with implementing new laws that Governor Brown signed into law this past fall.  Here is a summary of a few major bills that go into effect on New Year’s Day:

1. AB 1976: Lactation Accommodations

AB 1976 amends Labor Code section 1031, regarding lactation accommodations in the workplace.  California law requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate employees who want to pump or express breast milk for an infant child and to provide these employees with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, close to the employee’s work area to express breast milk in private.  With AB 1976, beginning on January 1, 2019, employers may no longer designate the lactation location as anywhere in a bathroom.  An employer will comply with the new law if the employer provides a temporary lactation location that meets all of the following requirements:

  • The temporary location must be private and free from intrusion while an employee expresses milk;
  • The temporary location is used only for lactation purposes while an employee expresses breast milk;
  • The temporary location otherwise meets the California law requirements for lactation accommodations, found in Labor Code sections 1030-1033; and
  • The employer is unable to provide a permanent lactation location because of operational, financial, or space limitations.

AB 1976 also creates an exemption for employers who can demonstrate to the Department of Industrial Relations (“DIR”) that providing a room or location, other than a bathroom, would impose an undue hardship when considering the size, nature, and structure of the employer’s business.  An employer must request the exemption from the DIR.  However, even if the DIR grants the employer an exemption, the employer is still required to make reasonable efforts to provide an employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee’s work area to express breast milk in private.

Relatedly, for public colleges and universities, beginning on January 1, 2020, another bill, AB 2785 will amend the Education Code to require California Community Colleges and the California State University, and encourage the University of California, to provide reasonable accommodations on their respective campuses for a lactating student to express breast milk, breastfeed an infant child, or address other needs related to breastfeeding.

Reasonable accommodations for students will include, but will not be limited to, the following:

  • Access to a private and secure room, other than a restroom, to express breast milk or breastfeed an infant child. The room must have a comfortable place to sit, and include a table or shelf to place a breast pump or any other equipment to express breast milk.  A campus of the California Community Colleges and the California State University may use an existing facility to meet these requirements;
  • Permission to bring a breast pump and any other equipment to express breast milk onto a college or university campus; and
  • Access to a power source for a breast pump or any other equipment to express breast milk.

The lactation accommodation must be available to a student whenever a student is required to be present on campus.

As public colleges and universities begin to implement the requirements of AB 1976, they should begin to consider how they plan to also comply with student accommodations beginning in 2020.

2. SB 1085: Paid Leaves of Absence for Union Stewards and Officers

SB 1085 creates paid leave for stewards and officers to participate in employee organization or union activities.  The new law will require public employers to grant reasonable leaves of absence without loss of compensation or other benefits, including retirement benefits, for employees to serve as stewards or officers of the employee organization.  The exclusive employee organization must make the request to the employer on behalf of the employee for whom it seeks leave.  Agencies may grant the leave on a full-time, part-time, periodic, or intermittent basis.

An employee organization is not obligated to use leave and may end an employee’s granted leave at any time. If, however, the employee organization elects to request this leave, it must reimburse the public agency for all compensation paid to the employee on leave, unless otherwise provided in a collective bargaining agreement or memorandum of understanding. An employee organization is required to make such reimbursements to the public agency on or before 30 days after receiving certification from the public agency showing payment to the employee.

At the end of the leave, the employee has a right to reinstatement to the same position and work location he or she held before the leave, or, if not feasible, a substantially similar position without loss of seniority, rank, or classification.

The law will require the public agency and employee organization to reach a mutual agreement on procedures for requesting and granting leave. Public agencies should be prepared to meet and have discussions with employee organizations to come up with an agreement on how this new paid leave of absence will be provided.

3SB 1421: Peace Office Records

As described in detail in a prior Special Bulletin, SB 1421 amends the Penal Code to require the disclosure of certain peace officer personnel records under the California Public Records Act (“CPRA”).  To date, such records could only be released pursuant to a Pitchness motion.

SB 1421 specifically amends Penal Code section 832.7 to generally require the disclosure of records and information relating to the following types of incidents in response to a request under the CPRA, without a Pitchess motion:

  • Records relating to the report, investigation, or findings of an incident involving the discharge of a firearm at a person by a peace officer or custodial officer.
  • Records relating to the report, investigation, or findings of an incident in which the use of force by a peace officer or custodial officer against a person results in death or great bodily injury.
  • Records relating to an incident in which a sustained finding was made by any law enforcement agency or oversight agency that a peace officer or custodial officer engaged in a sexual assault involving a member of the public. “Sexual assault” is defined for the purposes of section 832.7 as the commission or attempted initiation of a sexual act with a member of the public by means of force, threat, coercion, extortion, offer of leniency or any other official favor, or under the color of authority. The propositioning for or commission of any sexual act while on duty is considered a sexual assault.
  • Records relating to an incident in which a sustained finding was made of dishonesty by a peace officer or custodial officer directly relating to the reporting, investigation, or prosecution of a crime, or directly relating to the reporting of, or investigation of misconduct by, another peace officer or custodial officer, including but not limited to, any sustained finding of perjury, false statements, filing false reports, destruction of evidence or falsifying or concealing of evidence.

Relatedly, AB 748 delays the effect of SB 1421 for certain videos or audio recordings.  Specifically, effective July 1, 2019, law enforcement agencies will be required to produce, in response to CPRA requests, video and audio recordings of “critical incidents,” defined as an incident involving the discharge of a firearm at a person by a peace officer or custodial officer, or an incident in which the use of force by a peace officer or custodial officer against a person resulted in death or great bodily injury.

  1. SB 1343: Anti-harassment Training Requirements

As a reminder, SB 1343 expands existing harassment training requirements for public and private employers, to encompass private sector employers with five or more employees and mandate harassment training for nonsupervisory employees of qualified employers.  We addressed these new requirements in detail in post earlier this month.