New labor laws for 2002

January 07, 2002

The 2000-2001 legislative year ended up a mixed bag for business. A number of "job-killer" bills were vetoed by Gov. Gray Davis and others were signed into law.

Along with the "job-killer" bills, a number of other bills affecting business were passed and signed into law. The following is an overview of important employment bills that will go into effect Jan. 1.

Domestic partnership: Allows a person to collect unemployment insurance if he or she leaves a job to relocate with a domestic partner; allows domestic partners to use kin care (sick leave) to care for the partner or the partner's child.

English-only policies: Limits an employer's ability to adopt or enforce a policy requiring employees to speak only English in the workplace.


Lactation accommodation: Requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees who wish to express breast milk at work, including increased break time and privacy.

At-will exception: Prohibits at-will termination of janitors and building maintenance personnel under certain circumstances.

Unemployment insurance: Increases unemployment insurance benefits, expands eligibility to workers who are available only part-time, keeps WARN Act payments from affecting unemployment eligibility and changes base period calculation.

Overtime exemption: Creates an overtime exemption for doctors paid on an hourly basis.

Drug testing: Places new requirements and penalties on motor carrier employers who are subject to federal Department of Transportation drug and alcohol testing requirements, including triple damages if a driver injures someone.

Garnishments: Adds a new penalty for failure to comply with child support garnishments, and allows court-ordered electronic transfer of garnishments from the employers bank account.

Temporary nursing staff: Places new requirements on employment agencies that provide temporary certified nursing assistants or licensed nursing staff for long-term health care facilities, including background checks.

Telecommuting: Prohibits cities and counties from imposing business taxes and related licensing requirement on an employee working at home.

Farm workers: Allows bonds and other funds deposited with the state by farm labor contractors to be used to compensate a farm worker whose employer violates the labor code.

As a reminder, employers are mandated by state and federal laws to post up-to-date versions of labor notices. The 2002 poster sets may be purchased through the California Chamber of Commerce. For information on the costs of the required poster sets, visit

The Joint Chambers of Commerce will continue to monitor and respond to bills that affect our business members. The new legislative year will begin in January and the joint chambers will again make sure the voice of business is represented in Sacramento.

>> Brought to you by the Imperial Valley Joint Chambers of Commerce

>> Information provided by California Chamber of Commerce

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