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Amendments to Four Key Employment Bills Remove CSDA Opposition

By Vanessa Gonzales posted 08-29-2022 02:37 PM

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CSDA and its coalition partners have successfully worked to address key concerns within a number of employment and workplace safety bills impacting employers, including special districts. Following significant amendments to four employee rights and workplace safety bills discussed below, CSDA recently removed its opposition and adopted neutral positions.

Senate Bill 1044 (Durazo): Employers: emergency condition: retaliation.
  • The bill provides that, in an emergency condition, an employer shall not take or threaten adverse action against any employee for refusing to report to, or leaving, a workplace or worksite within the affected area because the employee has a reasonable belief, as defined, that the workplace or worksite is unsafe.
  • As amended, the bill provides that it does not apply to disaster service workers as defined by Government Code section 3101, first responders as defined in Government Code section 8562, or to an employee required by law to render aid or remain on the premises in case of an emergency.
  • As amended, the bill also contains a number of sector-specific exclusions including:
    • an employee of a private entity that contracts with a special district for purposes of providing or aiding in emergency services.
    • an employee of a company providing utility, communications, energy, or roadside assistance while the employee is actively engaged in or is being called upon to aid in emergency response, including maintaining public access to services such as energy and water during the emergency.
  • The bill defines "emergency condition" to mean the existence of either conditions of disaster or extreme peril to the safety of persons or property at the workplace or worksite caused by natural forces or a criminal act, or an order to evacuate a workplace or worksite, a worker’s home, or the school of a worker’s child due to natural disaster or a criminal act. Emergency condition does not include a health pandemic.
  • The bill prohibits an employer from preventing any employee from accessing the employee’s mobile device or other communications device for seeking emergency assistance, assessing the safety of the situation, or communicating with a person to verify their safety. This section of the bill is explicitly made applicable to special districts.
  • The bill specifies that it is not intended to apply when emergency conditions that pose an imminent and ongoing risk of harm to the workplace, the worksite, the worker, or the worker’s home have ceased.
  • The bill specifies employee notification requirements, and contains a cure provision under Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA)


As amended, the bill’s application is substantially narrowed both as to the scope of emergency conditions covered, and the types of employees covered, allowing CSDA to remove its opposition. In particular, the bill’s exemption of Disaster Service Workers is understood to effectively exempt most special district employees.


There are other complexities concerning this bill’s application to public employers under existing case law, so special districts may wish to seek legal counsel concerning this bill’s potential application.


CSDA’s letter withdrawing opposition and adopting a Neutral position can be viewed here.


Assembly Bill 2188 (Quirk): Discrimination in employment: use of cannabis 

As amended: 

  • The bill will, beginning January 1, 2024, make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize a person, if the discrimination is based upon any of the following:
  1. The person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace. This paragraph does not prohibit an employer from discriminating in hiring, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize a person based on scientifically valid preemployment drug testing conducted through methods that do not screen for nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites.
  2. An employer-required drug screening test that has found the person to have nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites in their hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids.
  • The bill does not permit an employee to possess, be impaired by, or to use, cannabis on the job, or affect the rights or obligations of an employer to maintain a drug and alcohol-free workplace, as specified in Section 11362.45 of the Health and Safety Code, or any other rights or obligations of an employer specified by federal law or regulation.
  • The bill does not apply to employees in the building and construction trades.
  • This bill does not apply to applicants or employees hired for positions that require a federal government background investigation or security clearance, and states that it does not preempt state or federal laws requiring employees to be tested for controlled substances, including laws requiring employees to be tested as a condition of employment, receiving federal funding or federal licensing-related benefits, or entering into a federal contract.


The bill’s provisions effectively limit testing to saliva testing. The bill’s amended delayed implementation is intended to allow the supply of saliva tests to adjust to demand given current shortages. The bill’s provisions will be maintained within the Fair Employment and Housing Act, so employers may wish to consult with counsel concerning the bill’s application and litigation risks. 


CSDA’s letter withdrawing opposition and adopting a Neutral position can be viewed here.


Assembly Bill 2693 (Reyes): COVID-19: exposure 

This bill initially sought to extend by two years a January 1, 2023, sunset on existing law pertaining to COIVD-19 workplace safety matters, notifications of exposures to employees and others as specified, and public health reporting during outbreaks.


As amended: 

  • The bill shortens the extension of the sunset on existing workplace safety provisions and exposure notifications to one year, allowing those provisions to sunset on January 1, 2024.
  • The bill adds alternative notification procures to be accomplished either through posting or through existing communications channels.
  • The bill eliminates the public health outbreak reporting provisions.
  • The bill updates various definitions and other provisions. Close contact is no longer defined as 6 feet for 15 minutes, but is now as defined by the Department of Industrial Relations – currently shared indoor airspace for a cumulative total of 15 minutes over 24 hours under the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards.


The current bill text amending existing law may be viewed here. CSDA’s letter withdrawing opposition and adopting a Neutral position can be viewed here.


Assembly Bill 1751 (Daly): Workers’ compensation: COVID-19: critical workers. 

This bill initially sought to extend by two years the January 1, 2023, sunset on existing law providing COVID-19 workers’ compensation presumptions for various categories of workers, including legacy claims, public safety and healthcare workers, and in outbreak scenarios, all workers.


CSDA had an Oppose Unless Amended position, seeking to reduce the sunset extension to one year, until January 1, 2024. The bill was amended to adopt that reduced sunset extension. The amended bill makes other changes to existing law which do no impact special districts.


CSDA joined its coalition partners in withdrawing opposition and adopting a Neutral position.