A New Bill in the California Assembly Would Expand the Group of Workers Protected from Discrimination and Entitled to Reasonable Accommodations

The unprecedented conditions of the last year have affected everyone in multiple ways. These impacts have also affected California’s legislators, who have enacted several news laws – and are contemplating others – that have a direct impact on workers across the state. If you believe you’ve been harmed by harassment or discrimination at work, you need a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney who is not only experienced in handling these kinds of cases but also is completely up-to-date on any and all of the changes in the law.

If a Bay Area member of the Assembly’s proposal becomes law, then California discrimination law would feel a very direct effect. AB 1119, proposed by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks of Oakland, would expand the anti-discrimination protections available to workers and job applicants in this state by adding an additional protected class within the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s safeguards against employment discrimination.

That class is people with “family responsibilities.” The spectrum of people who may fall within this class is potentially a wide one. This class can include parents of young children, children with parents in need of care, and people who provide care to family members with disabilities.

Who Would Qualify as ‘Care Providers’ Under the Bill

Specifically, the bill would protect workers who “provide direct and ongoing care for a minor child” or to a “care recipient.” The bill goes on to define a “care recipient” as “a family member or a person who resides in the employee’s household and relies on the employee for medical care or to meet the needs of daily living.” A family member, in this context, could be a spouse, a child, a sibling, a domestic partner, or even a grandparent or grandchild, among others.

What this would mean is that, if the employee’s caregiver responsibilities placed her in the position of requesting a work accommodation, then the employer would be required to engage in the interactive process and to provide a reasonable accommodation for that worker.

The proposal would also take an important step in changing the law to reflect the new reality many working Californians face in this time of the pandemic. Everything from sheltering restrictions to economic changes to collective bargaining disputes has changed the landscape for California’s parents. Childcare facilities may be permanently closed and schools may be operating on a “virtual-only” basis. These limitations have imperiled many parents’ employment, especially working mothers.

AB 1119 specifically addresses this, as it would amend the FEHA to require an interactive process and a reasonable accommodation when an employee or job applicant has “known family responsibilities … related to obligations arising from needing to care for a minor child or care recipient whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable.”

To ensure that you have the legal advice you need from a seasoned professional possessing a complete and updated knowledge of California discrimination law, look to the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch. Attorney Fuerch is a skilled Oakland workplace discrimination attorney who has been helping workers just like you for many years and is ready to get to work for you. Contact this office through our website or call (925) 463-2575 to schedule your free confidential consultation today.

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