By Barry A. Bradley, Esq. and Thomas P. Gmelich, Esq.

With more than 800 laws that took effect this past January 1st, California has a mixed bag for its citizens. Here are just a few highlights, whether you live here or not. . .


  A Little Off the Top 


Bad haircut day? Well, Assembly Bill (AB) 1322 now makes it legal for hair salons and barber shops to serve wine and beer to patrons while having their hair done, so long as there is no extra cost.  It won’t help the bad cut, but you may not care as much (at least until you sober-up).


Careful How You Say It


The politically correct AB 1850 amends California’s Education Code and replaces the term “illegal aliens” with the term “undocumented foreign nationals,” eliminates the word “illegal” from any reference to “aliens,” replaces references to “aliens” and “immigrants” with the terms “permanent residents” and “foreign nationals.”


Uber and Lyft Rides


For those of us who use transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft, AB 1289 will ensure that passenger safety and protection will be increased. All company (and independent contractor) drivers must now undergo a criminal background check before being hired or allowed to continue as drivers.  Those with DUI convictions within the past 7 years, registered sex offenders, and violent felons cannot drive for the companies.

Additionally, these drivers are prevented from driving on duty with a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or more. This is half the limit of 0.08% imposed for the rest of us while driving.


Animal Rights and Common Sense


Rescuing a pet left in the backseat of some careless pet owner’s car on a hot day will no longer subject Good Pet Samaritans to civil or criminal penalties. Thanks to AB 797, if a person has to break a window or otherwise damage a vehicle for the purpose of rescuing an animal, they will enjoy both civil and criminal immunity so long as that person first called 911 or other appropriate authority before breaking into the car.


Domestic Violence Sick Leave


Labor Code Section 230 already allows time off to any employee who is the victim of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault who needs time off to address various related things. This includes time to seek a restraining order or injunction, to seek medical attention, to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter or rape crisis center, to obtain psychological therapy, or to relocate or engage in safety planning.

Effective immediately, AB 2337 now requires employers to advise all new employees of these rights in writing at the time of hire. Further, the employee may engage in this protected time off without fear of retaliation or termination. The notice must also be provided to an existing employee upon request.


Jeans Day


It’s official. Whether it was the Gold Rush or just our desire to be casual, AB 501 (not necessarily named after Levy 501’s) designates “denim” as the official state fabric. We must all feel proud that our legislature is taking the time, effort and money to sanctify our wardrobes by official act.