Assembly Considers Pro-Worker Legislation

The California Assembly is currently considering two pieces of legislation that would be welcome news to workers and Unions.  The first is Assembly Bill 25 (AB 25), introduced by Assembly Member Nora Campos.  Under current law, private employers are prohibited from requiring that applicants or employees provide social media account passwords as a condition of employment.  AB 25 would amend section 980 of the Labor Code to extend those protections to public sector employees.  In addition, the Bill would prohibit public sector employers from requiring their employees to access social media in the presence of the employer.  There is an exception, however, if the employer reasonably believes the social media to be “relevant to an investigation of an allegation of employee misconduct or employee violation of applicable laws and regulations.”  Even then, however, the social media can only be used for purposes of the investigation or related proceeding.  The Assembly’s Judiciary Committee has recommended passage of the Bill, and it has been referred to the Appropriations Committee for their evaluation.  We will provide updates as events warrant.

The second piece of legislation is Assembly Bill 729 (AB 729), introduced by Assembly Member Roger Hernandez.  Current law permits attorneys, physicians, psychiatrists, clergy, and some professional counselors to keep private information which is obtained from clients and patients.  AB 729 would amend the Evidence Code to confirm in statutory form that there is a similar privilege for Union officials and employees.  The Bill would confirm that a Union agent may refuse to divulge confidential information obtained from a represented worker in common circumstances.  The Bill defines “Union agent” to include elected officials and Union employees, provided their duties include the representation of bargaining-unit employees in a grievance procedure or in negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement. With some exceptions, the Bill protects disclosures during arbitrations, in court, and in administrative proceedings.  The Assembly’s Judiciary Committee has recommended passage of the Bill.  We will provide updates as events warrant.

By, Jake White

Legal Developments