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New laws in effect to protect more workers in California

San Diego employees may have a general idea of what their rights are in the workplace, but laws about harassment, discrimination and other employment issues can become confusing because these laws and protections continue to change and evolve over time.

Many new bills regarding employee rights were approved and signed in California by the governor during 2012, and now that the new year is here, these laws are now in effect. The new laws touch on several workplace issues including breastfeeding in the workplace, employers' use of employees' social media accounts and compensation issues.

In terms of employee compensation, the new law says a wrongdoing is defined when employers fail to give a statement of wages or when employers give employees statements of their wages that are not accurate or difficult for workers to understand. It is important that workers receive accurate information so they can make sure they are being compensated properly for their work.

As discrimination continues to be a serious topic in the workplace, anti-discrimination laws now include protections for workers who dress in a particular way to abide by religious practices. Religious dress may include jewelry, clothing, covers of the face or head and artifacts. Besides clothing, facial hair, body hair and head hair is included in the new protections. Employers that discriminate against employees on the basis of religious dress practices and religious grooming practices could now be violating California's Fair Employment and Housing Act.

In California, it is illegal to discriminate against employees on the basis of their sex. This protection has been amended. It is now illegal for employers to discriminate against workers who want and need to breastfeed their babies.

Social media users are also protected under new employment laws in California. It is illegal for employers to request or require employees' passwords or access to personal social media accounts.

With the new additions to the laws, workers in San Diego will have more reason to feel safe at work. The new laws should also prompt employers to review its policies in order to determine whether any changes need to be made to comply with state and federal employment and labor laws. If workers believe that their rights have been violated in the workplace, they may want to consult an attorney in order to determine whether they have a valid claim to file against an employer.

Source: HR.BLR.com, "Legislation: Overview of the new California employment laws," Dec. 4, 2012