Governor Newsom Unexpectedly Vetoes a Number of Pro-Employee/Pro-Union Bills
Later this month, we will report on all the new employment-related laws that California has enacted for 2024. However, this article focuses on the bills that Newsom vetoed. Some of these are a bit of a surprise.
- SB 799: This bill would have required the EDD to treat employees who are on strike as eligible for unemployment. Many labor law attorneys, including the author of this article, anticipated that Newsom would sign this bill and allow California to join New York and New Jersey, as states that require UI benefits be paid to striking workers. However, Newsom vetoed the bill and indicated that the EDD did not have the finances to expand UI benefits to striking workers. The unions are very disappointed in Newsom for this veto.
- SB 403: This bill would have outlawed caste discrimination in the workplace by adding caste to the list of categories covered in California’s housing, education, and employment discrimination laws. Late last week, Governor Newsom vetoed this bill, claiming it was unnecessary. This bill was pushed very aggressively by the Southeast Asian community because they believe that caste discrimination in the workplace is commonplace in their communities.
- SB 731: This bill would have required employers to give 30 days advance written notice before requiring an employee who is working from home to return to the facility/office. Governor Newsom stated that he refused to sign the bill because it would impose an inflexible 30-day advance notice requirement that does not take into account the needs of the employer, and that this bill would be especially impractical for small businesses, and in times of critical need or emergencies.
- SB 725: This bill would have required a successor employer in the grocery industry to provide certain dislocated workers with severance pay equal to one week of pay for each year worked with the incumbent employer, if the successor did not offer employment to the employee. In his veto message, Governor Newsom cited the California WARN Act and the state’s unemployment insurance benefits and claimed that this legislation was not necessary.
- AB 524: This bill would have added “family caregiver” as a new category of protected status under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and thereby protect employees who qualify as family caregivers from harassment and discrimination due to their status as a caregiver. In his October 8th veto message, Newsom indicated that while he appreciated the intent of the bill, the burden it places on small businesses is too great and the language of the bill is too ambiguous.
- AB 1356: This bill would have expanded the California WARN Act. It would have required employers to provide a 75-day notice (instead of 60) for certain layoffs and other restrictions related to layoffs. Newsom vetoed the bill claiming the restrictions went too far and were not entirely consistent with the objectives of Cal/WARN.
Newsom appears to have given some thought to how these bills might be detrimental to the employer community before deciding whether to sign them into law. Later this week, we will report on the legislation that Newsom signs, and you can then decide whether or not you think Newsom gave enough consideration to the employer community.
In addition, on November 28, at 9:30 a.m. Pacific, CDF will be conducting its annual new California laws webinar to help California employers properly prepare for 2024. Please click on the following link after October 15 for more details about this program: https://www.cdflaborlaw.com/events and be sure to subscribe here to receive CDF webinar information.