AB 488 adds Section 12926.05 to the Government Code and explicitly corrects that the Legislature’s former definition of employee “was not intended to permit the harassment of, or discrimination against, an individual employed under a special license . . . in a nonprofit sheltered workshop, day program, or rehabilitation facility.” Section 12926.05(d).
Section 12926.05(b) also contains an affirmative defense for employers if they can prove both 1) the challenged action was permitted by statute or regulation and 2) was necessary to serve employees with disabilities under a special license. Gov. Code § 12926.05(b).
Legal practitioners who rarely practice in the area of disability rights may not be paying attention to this reform. Its relevancy however, lies in the recent proliferation of California employment laws aimed at expanding employee rights. (See e.g., AB 908: expanding paid family leave and state disability insurance; AB 1676 & SB 1063: prohibitions on wage or salary discrimination based on sex, race, or ethnicity; and AB 2337: employment protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.)
California is often at the forefront of protecting worker’s rights, particularly in the protections provided to immigrants. The passing of AB 488 and other laws effective this year evidences California’s leadership for employees.
Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy regularly represents employees in employment disputes. If you or someone you know has an employment law matter you would like evaluated, contact Tamarah Prevost or Adam Zapala.