Posted by Connor O’Reilly.
On October 15th California Governor Jerry Brown signed several employment related bills into effect. These bills have been crafted and designed to change laws regarding the state’s employers. “The newly-enacted laws address a range of topics, including criminal conviction history, salary history and sanctuary immigration policy.”
The governor’s first major law bans inquiries regarding salary history when applying for a new job. “California will now prohibit all employers from inquiring about or relying upon salary history information of an applicant as a factor in determining whether to offer employment or an applicant’s salary.” This law was created in order to deter pay inequalities in regards to gender, race and ethnicity. This bill adds a completely new section to the Labor Code which applies to employers on both a state and federal level.
Next, California just passed a “Ban the Box” law which prohibits pre-application questioning regarding criminal records. In an effort to thwart discrimination and promote equal opportunity employment, “California will now prohibit all employers with five or more employees from inquiring into or relying upon an applicant’s criminal conviction history until an applicant has received a conditional offer of employment.” Further, if an applicant has a criminal record, employers are required to conduct individualized assessments on the conviction history including severity of the offense, the time that has passed and the nature of position sought. Their decision must be calculated, explained to the applicant, and be in compliance with California’s Fair Pay Act.
Additionally, California now declares itself a Sanctuary State and will prohibit employers’ compliance with newly passed federal immigration laws. This controversial law makes it illegal for employers to voluntarily permit federal immigration agents from searching private workplaces without a warrant. There are also several other regulations regarding time requirements before searches and harder requirements to obtain Employment Eligibility Verification from already employed workers. The penalties are extremely harsh for disregarding these laws which range from $2,000 to $10,000.
Without a doubt, California is creating laws that give more power and rights to workers. By eliminating salary history in the application process, each applicant will be given a salary solely based on their skills. California’s “Ban the Box” laws also promote equality in hiring and negate discrimination towards people with criminal records. Yet the new law prohibiting businesses from complying with Federal laws is extremely concerning and shocking. This is clearly a backlash at President Trump and his harsh crackdown on illegal immigrants, yet it will prove to be very taxing on the business owners of California. Overall, I believe California is creating important laws to give rights back to the working class, but creating laws that go against federal law will cause issues down the road.
Connor is an business administration major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2020.