Governor Jerry Brown Decides the Fate of Workplace Bills Advanced in the State Capitol

Jason Gabhart By Jason Gabhart October 5, 2018

September 30 marked the deadline for Governor Jerry Brown to sign into law or veto legislation that the California Legislature sent to his desk.  One significant piece of legislation that the Governor vetoed was AB 3080, a bill opposed by SHRM and CalSHRM.

As approved by the Legislature, AB 3080 would have prohibited mandatory arbitration agreements for a violation of any provision of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, or the California Labor Code. SHRM urged the Governor to veto the bill, stressing that SHRM supports public policy proposals that promote an accessible, prompt and fair resolution of harassment claims in the workplace while protecting confidentiality and due process, including arbitration. Additionally, in certain circumstances, we argued arbitration can be advantageous to an employee since the process is less-expensive, less formal and a quicker process than litigation.  SHRM also noted that state laws that explicitly or covertly discriminate against arbitration agreements, as compared to other contracts, are preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act; a point the Governor stressed in vetoing the bill.   

Governor Brown also signed into law several bills that SHRM monitored throughout the legislative process. These include: 

  • AB 1976, requiring an employer to make reasonable efforts to provide an employee with use of a room or other location, other than a bathroom, to express breast milk for the employee's infant child.
  • SB 224, adding an investor, elected official, lobbyist, director, and producer among those listed persons who may be liable to a plaintiff for sexual harassment.
  • SB 820, banning secret settlements (confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements) in cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sex discrimination.
  • SB 1300, prohibiting an employer from requiring an employee to sign a non-disparagement agreement or other document that purports to deny the employee the right to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including but not limited to, sexual harassment.
  • SB 1343, requiring an employer who employs 5 or more employees, including temporary or seasonal employees, to provide at least 2 hours of sexual harassment training to ALL employees by January 1, 2020, and once every 2 years after that. 

Governor Brown also vetoed the following bills of interest to SHRM and HR professionals:

  • AB 1867, requiring an employer with 50 or more employees to maintain records of employee complaints of sexual harassment for 10 years from the date of filing.
  • AB 1870, giving victims up to three years (instead of one) after harassment occurs to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
  • AB 3081, prohibiting an employer from discharging, discriminating or retaliating against an employee who is a victim of sexual harassment for taking time off work to obtain relief or because of the employee's status as a victim of sexual harassment. Established a rebuttable presumption of unlawful retaliation if an employer takes specific actions within 30 days following the date that the victim provides notice to the employer or the employer has actual knowledge of the status.  

Because this was the second year of a two-year session, bills that did not make it to the Governor's desk this summer are no longer viable when the new legislative session begins in December. Considering that a new governor will be elected in November, it is highly likely that many of the bills that were vetoed by Governor Brown, or failed to make it to his desk, will be reintroduced in January when the new Legislature convenes. As always, SHRM will actively advocate our members' positions on workplace legislation considered by the California Legislature.

For questions on any piece of California legislation, please contact SHRM's Director, State Affairs, California, Jason Gabhart at or (916) 403-3465.  



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