The new California employment-related laws that came out of the 2023 legislative session address a number of issues that will affect many employers. Leave (paid family leave, sick leave, and reproductive loss leave), retaliation (presumptions of retaliation related to terminations of employment), noncompete clauses, California's WARN Act, and workplace violence prevention top the list this year.

In addition to these changes, the state minimum wage is increasing in January 2024. Below is a roundup of the new employment laws that stand to impact California employers in 2024 and beyond.

Assembly Bills

AB 521

Occupational safety and health standards: construction jobsites: toilet facilities. For more information, see our article, "California Assembly Bill Pushes for Women's Designated Restrooms on Jobsites."

AB 594

Labor Code: alternative enforcement.AB 594authorizes the California attorney general, a district attorney, or a city or county prosecutor to pursue a civil or criminal action for a violation of certain provisions of the Labor Code—in particular, willful misclassifications of an individual as an independent contractor instead of an employee.

AB 933

Privileged communications: incident of sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination. For more information, see our article, "California Extends Defamation Privilege Defenses to Assault, Sexual Harassment, and Workplace Discrimination Complainants."

Effective January 1, 2024, this law permits individuals who are sued for making defamatory statements based on their experiences as victims of sexual assaults and sexual misconduct to assert the defamation privilege as a bar to liability. This privilege extends to statements individuals have made regarding their workplace discrimination experiences.

AB 1076

Noncompete clauses. For more information, see our article, "Governor Newsom Signs Bill Reinforcing California's Ban on Noncompete Agreements" and our recent webinar, "California's New Noncompete Notice Requirements: What You Need to Know."

This law will make it unlawful for employers to include post-employment noncompete clauses in employment contracts or require employees to enter post-employment noncompete agreements. The law also requires employers to provide all current and certain former employees with notices that any post-employment noncompete clauses in their employment agreements and/or post-employment noncompete agreements are void.

AB 1228

Minimum wage increases for fast-food workers. For more information, see our article, "California Governor Signs Fast Food Industry Minimum Wage Law."

AB1228, which repeals the FAST Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (FAST Recovery Act) (AB 257), raises the minimum wage for fast food restaurant employees in California to $20 per hour starting in April 2024. Fast food employees' wage rate will continue to increase on an annual basis until 2029.


California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (Cal-WARN) amendments. For more information, see our article, "Governor Newsom Vetoes Bill That Would Have Given California Employees Earlier Layoff Warning."

Senate Bills

SB 235

Civil procedure: initial disclosures. For more information, see our article, "California Imposes New Discovery Requirement: Initial Disclosures."

SB 235 amends section 2016.090 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, imposing new discovery obligations that require parties to make initial witness and document disclosures within sixty days of a request. Employers may want to take note that SB 235 goes beyond Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 26(a)(1) in that the parties must disclose witnesses and documents that are relevant to the case. This means that parties must disclose witnesses and documents that may potentially be harmful to their cases.

SB 365

Civil procedure: arbitration. For more information, see our article, "California Governor Signs Bill to Prevent Automatic Stays of Litigation Pending Arbitration Appeal."

SB 365 amends the California Code of Civil Procedure to allow litigation to continue during an appeal of a denial of a petition to compel arbitration. The business community has argued that this new law will discriminate against the use of valid arbitration agreements by requiring defendants to continue litigating claims that may ultimately be found to be the subject of arbitration.


Prohibition on Caste-Based Discrimination. For more information, see our article, "California Legislature Sends Bill Prohibiting Caste Discrimination to the Governor."

SB 428

Workplace restraining orders. For more information, see our article, "California Workplace Violence Restraining Order Law Expanded to Protect Against Harassment."

Beginning in 2025, SB 428 will allow employers to seek a temporary restraining order against individuals who haveharassedtheir employees whereas existing law allowed employers to seek a temporary restraining order only against individual who had engaged in workplace violence or threats of violence against their employees.

SB 497

Presumption of retaliation. For more information, see our article, "New California Law Makes It Easier for Employees to Establish Retaliation Claims."

SB 497 creates a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if an employer disciplines of discharges an employee within ninety days of the employee engaging in activities protected by the California Labor Code and California's Equal Pay Act. The new law makes it easier for an employee to establish a prima facie case of retaliation.

SB 525

Minimum wage: healthcare workers. For more information, see our article, "California Legislature Advances Employment Law Bills in Final Weeks of Session."

SB 525 sets a new minimum wage for workers in the healthcare industry beginning in June 2024. The rates phase in depending on the type of facility and other factors, but for some workers the rate starts at $21.00 per hour in June 2024. The rates will increase for workers at various facilities to $25.00 per hour beginning in June 2025.

SB 553

Occupational safety: restraining orders and workplace violence prevention plans. For more information, see our articles, "Governor Newsom Signs Into Law Comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Legislation," "California's Workplace Violence Prevention Bill Passes Assembly Appropriations Committee With New Amendments," and "SB 553 Workplace Violence Prevention: 12 Answers to Employers' Frequently Asked Questions."

California's new workplace violence prevention standards will require employers to develop workplace violence prevention plans as part of their injury and illness prevention programs. The new law will also require employers to implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan with, record violent workplace incidents or threats, train all employees, and keep records related to the workplace violence prevention plan.

In addition to the articles mentioned above, we also recently conducted a webinar on the new workplace violence prevention law, "California's New Workplace Violence Law and Cal/OSHA's Expected Enforcement," and published a three-part podcast series on the legislation, "California's Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, Part I: SB 553's History, Coverage, and Definitions," "California's Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, Part II: A Deeper Dive Into SB 553," and "California's Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, Part III: SB 553's Recordkeeping and Training Requirements."

SB 616

Paid sick leave expansion. For more information, see our article, "California Expands Paid Sick Leave to Five Days or Forty Hours."

SB 616 requires California employers to provide employees with five days or forty hours of paid sick leave—up from three days and twenty-four hours. The new law also increases the annual usage cap from twenty-four to forty hours.


Domestic workers: occupational safety.For more information, see our article, "Governor Newsom Vetoes Bill Mandating Occupational Safety and Health Measures for Household Domestic Service Employees."

SB 699

Prohibitions on enforcement of noncompete agreements. For more information, see our article, "California Governor Signs Law Prohibiting Employers From Entering Noncompete Agreements" and our webinar, "California's New Noncompete Notice Requirements: What You Need to Know."

SB 699 makes it unlawful for employers to enter into or attempt to enforce noncompete agreements. The new law, which takes effect on January 1, also establishes that noncompete agreements are void in California regardless of where an employee worked when the agreement was entered and/or where the agreement was signed.

SB 700

Protections from employment discrimination: cannabis use. For more information, see our article, "California Expands Marijuana Employment Antidiscrimination Law."

As of January 1, 2024, SB 700 amends California's Fair Employment and Housing Act to prohibit employers from asking job applicants for information related to their prior use of cannabis.


Work from home rights. For more information, see our article, "California Governor Vetoes Bill Aimed at Expanding Employment Protections for Employees Working From Home."

SB 848

Reproductive loss leave. For more information, see our article, "California's New Employment Laws for 2024: A Roundup of New Laws."

SB 848 allows certain employees to take unpaid leave following a "reproductive loss event." The law defines a "reproductive loss event" as "the day or, for a multiple-day event, the final day of a failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or an unsuccessful assisted reproduction." Covered employees will be entitled to up to five days of leave for a reproductive loss event.

Background Checks Regulations and Pay Minimums for Software Employees

In addition to the laws that emerged from the legislative session, California also recently finalized regulations concerning background checks and changed the state's overtime requirements. You can find detailed information about the background check regulations in our two recent articles, "California Changes Background Check Procedures" and "California's New Background Check Regulations: 10 Frequently Asked Questions." We also recently conducted a webinar, "New California Criminal Background Check Requirements," on the new regulations.

In addition, California raised the minimum pay thresholds for computer software employees to be exempt from the state's overtime requirements. More information is in our recent article, "California Raises Software Employee Pay Minimums for Overtime Exemption."

California's Minimum Wage

On January 1, 2024,California's minimum wagewill be $16.00 per hour up from $15.50 per hour. In addition to the increase to the state's minimum wage, on January 1, 2024, Oakland's will increase to $16.50 (up from $15.97); San Diego's will increase to $16.85 from $16.30; and San Jose's will increase to $17.55 (up from $17.00).

What's to Come

California employers can start preparing for these changes now, as most of these laws go into effect on January 1, 2024. Our recent article covers a selection of the laws that passed, "California's New Employment Laws for 2024: A Roundup of New Laws." Ogletree Deakins recently conducted two webinars that answered employers questions on the new laws: "California Legislative Update: A Busy 2023 Brings Big Changes for Employers" and "Keeping Current in California with Leslie and Charles." Employers can find overviews of the relevant bills in our article, "California Legislature Advances Employment Law Bills in Final Weeks of Session" and in our webinar, "Keeping Current in California With Charles and Leslie."

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor developments and will provide updates on theCaliforniablog as additional information becomes available.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.