New Laws for 2020

More than two dozen new laws in California went into effect as the calendar changed to 2020. The new laws include changes in employment practices, housing, criminal justice and more. 

California Senate Bill (SB) 3 increases the minimum wage from $11 to $12 an hour for businesses with fewer than 26 employees and from $12 to $13 for businesses with more than 26 employees. Several cities have their own employee minimum wage mandates, including Alameda, which currently has minimum wage set at $13.50. Alameda’s minimum wage will increase to $15 on July 1. 

California Assembly Bill (AB) 5 will reclassify some independent contractors as employees for companies where workers’ jobs is part of a company’s core business. This bill will effect Uber and Lyft drivers, freelance journalists and more. Under the bill employees would then receive typical employee rights such as minimum wage, paid sick days and health insurance benefits. Uber has already filed a suit to stop the bill. 

AB 9 allows employees to file an employee discrimination, harassment or retaliation claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing up to three years after the incident. Previously, employees had just a year to file a complaint. 

SB 188 calls for the end of hairstyle discrimination. The law protects employees from racial discrimination because of hairstyles, such as afros, braids, twists and locks.

SB 133 indicates the end of exotic animals like elephants in circus acts. It only allows dogs, cats and domesticated horses to be part of circus performances. The bill was signed in 2016 after animal activists demanded the end of SeaWorld’s Orca shows and killer whale breeding. 

Under AB 32, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would be prohibited from entering into or renewing a contract with a private, for-profit prison to incarcerate state prison inmates. The bill also states that no inmate shall be imprisoned in a private, for-profit prison facility after Jan. 1, 2028.

AB 218 extends the statute of limitations to file a civil lawsuit on childhood sex assaults. The new law allows victims until the age of 40, or five years from discovery of the abuse, to file a civil lawsuit. The previous limit had been 26, or within three years from discovery of the abuse. The bill will also suspend the current statute of limitations of three years allowing victims of all ages to file lawsuits.

SB 273 will extend the statute of limitations to report a domestic violence assault from one year to three years. The extension is for assaults that took place after Jan. 1 and assaults that occurred within the last three years. 

Other new laws taking affect include prohibiting school suspensions for simple student defiance, extending paid leave for new parents and prohibiting property owners from stopping the display of religious items on a door or door frame.