This post was authored by Alysha Stein-Manes and Kaylee E. Feick.
Last November, we reported that Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill No. 2337 (“AB 2337”) into law. AB 2337 amended Labor Code section 230.1 (“Section 230.1”) to require employers to provide written notice to employees regarding the rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking in the workplace.
Prior to AB 2337, Section 230.1 prohibited an employer from discriminating and retaliating against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking for taking time off from work to: seek medical attention for resulting injuries, receive counseling, participate in safety planning, or obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, program or rape crisis center. AB 2337 amended Section 230.1 to affirmatively require that employers provide employees with written notice of these rights. Under the amended law, an employer must now provide such written notice to all new employees upon hire and to other employees upon request.
Although AB 2337 became effective on January 1, 2017, the statute did not require employers to comply with its notice requirements until the Labor Commissioner developed and posted a model notice on the Department of Industrial Relations’ website. Employers could then use the model notice to inform their employees of their rights under Section 230.1. Last month, the Labor Commissioner released this model notice.
The Labor Commissioner’s Model Notice
The Labor Commissioner’s model notice informs employees that victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking have the right to take time off from work to seek medical attention or obtain services such as counseling and safety planning. The notice explains that employees may use available vacation, personal leave, accrued paid sick leave or compensatory time off for such purposes, unless an employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreement that provides for different rights regarding use of leave. However, the notice clarifies that an employee without available paid time off may still take time off for such purposes. The notice further explains that employees have the right to request, as a reasonable accommodation, that their employers make changes in the workplace to ensure their safety. Employees who believe that their employers are violating these rights may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office.
In order to comply with Section 230.1, employers may choose to adopt the Labor Commissioner’s model notice as their own notice to employees. Alternatively, employers may develop their own notice. If an employer elects to develop its own notice, the notice must be “substantially similar” to the Labor Commissioner’s notice.
Tips for Employers to Comply with Notice Requirements
Now that the Labor Commissioner has published its model notice, employers must immediately ensure that they provide new employees with notice of their rights under Section 230.1. Employers may also want to consider providing the notice to all employees, not just new employees. Accordingly, employers should consider updating their new employee orientation packets to include either the Labor Commissioner’s model notice or their own notice. Employers may also want to consider updating other procedures related to providing notices of employee rights to ensure compliance with these notice requirements.
Employers who decide to develop their own notice should consult with legal counsel to ensure that the notice complies with the “substantially similar” requirement of the law.
If you have questions about this issue please contact our Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno, San Diego, or Sacramento office.