What’s AB 2069? Will California be Protecting Medical Marijuana Users?


employment discrimination

California has developed a reputation as a sanctuary regarding immigration, and some cities more than others. Soon, however, you may be able to add medical marijuana users to the list of people seeking sanctuary. An active proposed bill could protect people who use medical marijuana from employment discrimination.

As it Stands

As of now, California employers can deny employment on the grounds of marijuana use, even for medical reasons. If you look back to Ross V. Ragingwire, you’ll see that the California Supreme Court does not have to accommodate medical marijuana use, disregarding the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) doesn’t bind employers to accommodate illegal drug use, and it was interpreted so employers can lawfully deny employment to people using medical marijuana, as it remains illegal under federal law.

In 2016, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act passed, and it codifies the employer’s choice to “maintain a drug and alcohol free workplace.” Health and Safety Code §11362.45(f).

However, Rob Bonta, California Assembly Member for District 18, and Bill Quirk, Assembly Member for District 20, coauthored Assembly Bill 2069. This bill would amend FEHA by creating a new protected category for Marijuana Medical Users. The goal of AB 2069 would be to “prohibit an employer from engaging in employment discrimination against a person on the basis of his or her status as, or positive drug test for cannabis by, a qualified patient or person with an identification card.”

AB 2069 would not, however, turn it into a free-for-all. Employers would still be allowed to take corrective actions against employees found to be impaired on the company premises. Additionally, AB 2069 would let employers deny employment “if hiring the individual or failing to discharge the employee would cause the employer to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law or regulations.”

What would AB 2069 Do?

What AB 2069 would do, if it makes it to law, would be to alter the entire legal environment. Employers will have to update their drug testing policies. Additionally, they’ll need to change the way they treat applicants and employees who test positive for marijuana. What AB 2069 would not do, however, is protect recreational use. If you’re a recreational marijuana user, California employers are still able to deny employment through drug testing policies.

This legislation raises a few concerns. Some question whether this is a reasonable accommodation, or if it’s an abuse of disability discrimination law. Additionally, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) may still preempt the bill as it is a federal law, and still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug.

In the 2016 case from New Mexico, Garcia V. Tractor Supply Co., a federal district court held that the CSA preempted the state’s marijuana law. On the other hand, in a 2017 case in Connecticut, another federal district court held that a statute very similar to AB 2069 was not preempted by the CSA. In the Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co. case, the court decided that the CSA does not specifically regulate an employment relationship, so it does not preempt the Connecticut law.

What Should You Do?

As always, if you have legal questions, you should consult with a lawyer directly. At the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard, you can count on them fighting for the little guy. You can call (310) 488-9020, or visit the website to see what Cathe can do for you.

sexual harassment claims

A Year Full of Sexual harassment Claims, What You Need to Know Now

sexual harassment claims

2017 sure felt like it was the year of harassment. It seemed like every day or two there were new high-profile stories of sexual harassment claims in the news. You didn’t just see the claims though; there were social media movements like #metoo that started, or were rejuvenated as more and more survivors came forward. You don’t have to work for someone rich and powerful to suffer from sexual harassment; just ask any workplace attorney. Out of the fire of all of this hurt, came Senate Bill 396.

What is Senate Bill 396?

Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill on October 15, 2017. This new law requires employers with 50 or more employees to expand their already required two-hour sexual harassment training. In addition to the standard sexual harassment training, supervisors will receive training on policies prohibiting harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. All employees in supervisory capacities receive this training once every two years.

What Does All That Mean?

The California Fair Employment and Housing Council have definitions for “sex”, “gender”, “gender identity”, “gender expression”, and “transgender”. Each of these items are independent of the others as well. Because of Senate Bill 396, the already-required training will cover how to avoid harassment based on these items. This way, there will be less of a need for sexual harassment claims, and better protections for transgender individuals in the workplace.

So, What Should You Do If You Think You Need to File Sexual Harassment Claims?

Even with additional training, there will still be sexual harassment claims. If you’re in this unfortunate situation, you need to take advantage of your protections. No one should have to worry about sexual harassment, and that includes you. The first thing you should do after your sexual harassment is contact a labor attorney. You’re going to want a professional on your side.

Fighting back against sexual harassment claims starts before they ever happen. Try to have a plan of action if it happens. Freezing up in the moment is very common, and if this happens to you, don’t feel bad. However, if you’ve thought about how to handle the situation, your loud and clear message in the moment may not just establish that the advances were unwanted, but possibly end any problems before they can really start.

Once you find yourself in the situation of having to file sexual harassment claims, you’ll want to write down everything. Write down when you were harassed, what they said, and who was around to hear it. Do this as quickly as you can. Memories fade, but if you write it down right away you will have crystal-clear accounting. Document everything, from requests for sexual favors, to anything you think might have been retaliation for fighting back. Save every email, every memo. However, don’t record this using work property; use the notes app on your phone, or keep your own paper notebook on hand.

Remember, this is not your fault, and you’re not alone. Men and women deal with sexual harassment every day. If you need help with sexual harassment claims, or any type of workplace discrimination, the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard are here for you. Call (310) 488-9020, or visit the website to see how they’ll fight for you.

wage theft

Wage Theft is No Joking Matter, Make Sure it Isn’t Happening to You

As a restaurant server in California, you make the state’s minimum wage, unlike servers in other states. You may have heard that the Department of Labor plans to change the rules on tip-pooling. The purpose of this rule change is supposed to even out how front of house and back of house employees are paid. There’s no worry about this in California; however, critics say the rule goes too far, and legalizes what’s currently considered wage theft. There are many ways an employer can commit wage theft. When that happens, you’ll need the help of an expert labor attorney.

Overtime Wage Theft

You can get overtime for additional hours worked over 40 hours in your full-time work week, whether you’re a blue-collar or white-collar worker, and unless you’ve been classified as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act. The questions you’ll want to ask include who is exempt, and who is not. In addition, you’ll want to get a breakdown of overtime rules by occupation. Some occupations have different classifications and exemptions.

Employee Misclassification

If you’re an employee of a company, you have rights that give you protection. As an employee, your payroll taxes are paid by your employer, and unemployment insurance as well. However, independent contractors do not get those rights and protections. Independent contractors are also on the hook for their payroll taxes. If you think this kind of wage theft is occurring, you’ll want to find out about your employee classification. Once you know your classification, ask your labor attorney if you should be classified that way.

Minimum Wage Violations

This one may seem obvious, but if you’re being paid less than the highest minimum wage rate for your area, that’s a case of wage theft. There are federal and state minimum wages, and your city might even have minimum wage laws on the books. You’re entitled to the highest applicable minimum wage.

Off the Clock Wage Theft

Work starts as soon as you go into work. If your employer isn’t paying you the time it takes to get into your protective gear, as well as the time you spend cleaning up after the day, that’s a working off the clock form of wage theft. Don’t let your employer get away with this. If you’re being asked to work off the clock, contact your labor attorney right away.

Illegal Deductions from Pay

If your employer is taking unauthorized or illegal deductions from your paycheck, it’s wage theft, in the most literal sense. You should contact your labor attorney right away to get this resolved.

Not Getting Paid at All

Perhaps the most obvious form of wage theft is when you aren’t even paid. If you aren’t paid you need to immediately contact your labor attorney and start recording everything.

If you fear that you’re suffering wage theft, The Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard are here to fight for you. Call (310) 488-9020, email, or Fill out the contact form to get started on the path to justice. Cathe L. Caraway-Howard is always “fighting for the little guy”.