Solo & Small Firm

In the Know: 2020 Legislative Update

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By Sabrina Green

It’s a new year and we all know what that means … new legislation!  Here are some new laws that you will need to know. 


AB 5 – Gig worker law

The landmark labor law reclassifies some independent contractors as employees. It aims to provide new protections for so-called gig economy workers such as minimum wage, paid sick days and health insurance benefits. Organizations representing freelance journalists have already sued over the law and Uber has said it will not adhere to the changes.

SB 3 – Minimum wage increase

The law raises the state minimum wage to $13 an hour for workplaces with 26 or more employees and to $12 for workplaces with fewer than 26 employees. The law outlines incremental minimum wage increases through 2023 when it will reach $15 an hour for all workplaces.

AB 9 – Employment discrimination

The law allows employees up to three years to file complaints of discrimination, harassment or retaliation with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Previously, employees had only had one year to file a complaint.

SB 142 – Protection for nursing mothers

The law requires employers to provide clean and safe lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers. Employers would have to “provide access to a sink and refrigerator in close proximity to the employee’s workspace,” the law says. It also requires the room be free of intrusion and that employers offer mothers breaks specifically for nursing.

SB 188 – Hairstyle discrimination

The law protects employees from racial discrimination because of hairstyles, such as afros, braids, twists and locks. California is the first state in the nation to ban such practices.

SB 83 – Extending paid leave

The law increases paid leave from six to eight weeks for people taking care of a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. It takes effect July 1, 2020.

*AB 51 – Arbitration agreements (blocked on Dec. 30, 2019)*

A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked a new California law outlawing mandatory arbitration agreements that critics say can make it more difficult for workers to sue their bosses for sexual harassment. 

Criminal Justice

AB 12 – Gun violence restraining orders

The law expands who can petition a judge to confiscate someone’s weapons if they believe that person may be violent. Existing law allows police, immediate family members and roommates to request a restraining order. The updated law allows employers, coworkers and teachers to be able to do so. The law goes into effect Sept. 1, 2020.

SB 439 – Juvenile hall age

The law changes the age minors can be to 12 in order for them to be sent to juvenile hall. A child under 12 would be released to their parent or legal guardian. The law does not apply to minors who commit murder, rape or great bodily harm.

AB 32 – Bans private, for-profit prisons

The law bars California from keeping prisoners in private, for-profit prisons and immigrant detention centers starting in 2028. Starting on Jan. 1, 2020, the state cannot renew contracts with private prisons.

AB 218 – Statute of limitations for childhood sex assaults

The law gives victims of childhood sexual abuse until age 40, or five years from discovery of the abuse, to file civil lawsuits. The previous limit had been 26, or within three years from discovery of the abuse. It also suspends the statute of limitations for three years — beginning Jan. 1, 2020 — giving victims of all ages time to bring lawsuits if they wish.

AB 602 – Deepfake porn lawsuits

The law requires consent from a person before their likeness can be digitally reproduced in porn. It also gives people whose likeness was used in “deepfake” porn more options to sue in civil court.

SB 273 – Domestic violence statute of limitations

The law extends the statute of limitations to report domestic violence to law enforcement from one year to five years. The change would apply to domestic violence that happens on or after Jan. 1, 2020. It also applies to crimes for which the statute of limitations was in effect before Jan. 1, 2020, and had not run out. The law also requires more training for law enforcement on de-escalation techniques and interviewing victims in a different place from the suspect.


SB 419 – School suspension

The law prohibits schools, including charter schools, from suspending students for willful defiance. That means if a student is acting up in class, teachers and school officials will not be able to suspend them from school. Students can still be suspended for violence or bringing a weapon or drugs to campus. Students in grades 9 to 12 could still be suspended for willful defiance — but not expelled. The law goes into effect July 1, 2020.

SB 354 – Grants for Dreamers for graduate programs

The law expands the DREAM Loan Program. Now, Dreamers, undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S. as children, enrolled in programs for a professional or graduate degree at a public university can apply for state-funded grants.

Environment and Animals

SB 8 – Banning smoking at state beaches

The law bans smoking at all state beaches and parks, with a fine of $25 per violator. It also makes it illegal to toss a cigarette or cigar onto a state beach.

SB 313 – Circus Cruelty Prevention Act

The law bans the use of exotic animals like elephants in circus acts. It only allows dogs, cats and domesticated horses to be part of circus performances.

SB 1249 – Animal testing on cosmetics

The law bans the import and sale of cosmetics products in California that include ingredients that were tested on animals or was manufactured through animal testing.


AB 1482 – Rent Cap

The law caps rent increases at 5% each year plus inflation for the next decade. The cap does not apply to property built within the last 15 years. It also requir3es landlords to provide just cause for evictions.

SB 652 – Display of religious items

The law prohibits property owners from stopping the display of religious items on a door or door frame of a dwelling.

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