California Recently Vetoed Employment Law Cal-WARN Act Expansion, Back-to-Work Notices, and FEHA Amendments

In addition to signing various employment-related bills into law during the 2023-2024 legislative session, Governor Gavin Newsom also vetoed numerous bills that would have further impacted California employers. Here’s a look at the most surprising vetoes.

Quick hits

  • Governor Newsom vetoed employment bills that would have expanded the application of the Cal-WARN Act and required employers to provide a thirty-day notice period before returning remote workers to on-site work.
  • The governor also vetoed legislation that would have amended California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based specifically on caste and add family caregiver to a protected category.

VETOEDAB 524, Family Caregiver Status as a Protected Category

Assembly Bill (AB) 524 would add family caregiver status as an additional protected category under FEHA. While Governor Newsom applauded the intent of the bill, he said it would place too much of a burden on employers given the ambiguity of its language.

VETOEDAB 1356, Expansion of the Cal-WARN Act

Governor Newsom vetoed AB 1356, which would have significantly expanded the scope of the California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (Cal-WARN) Act. In doing so, Governor Newsom noted that there may be a better, narrower way to address the bill’s intent.

VETOEDSB 403, Prohibition of Caste Discrimination

Senate Bill 403 would prohibit caste discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the California Education Code. In vetoing the bill, Governor Newsom stated that California already prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation and other characteristics, and state law provides that these civil rights protections will be to be interpreted liberally, thus indicating that this type of discrimination is already covered by other expressly protected categories.

VETOEDSB 731, Thirty Days’ Notice Before Returning to Office

SB 731 would require employers to give remote workers thirty days’ notice before calling them to return to the office. In vetoing the bill, Governor Newsom stated: Businesses, especially small ones, may limit employee numbers to in-person positions, and requiring 30 days’ notice to return to work may be impractical, especially during periods of critical need or emergency situations.

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