New laws hit the books in 2015


In Driver’s Licenses: Undocumented workers can now apply to receive driver’s licenses.

Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations:

Victims of childhood sexual abuse now have until age 40 to report crimes.

Nude Selfies:

Anyone who distributes a nude image intended to be private could be charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and subject to a civil suit.

Audrie’s Law:

Creates harsher punishments for people who commit sex acts on someone incapable of providing consent, such as those passed out from alcohol or drugs. The law is named after Audrie Pott, a Florida teen who committed suicide after she was sexually assaulted while unconscious.

Gun Law:

Requires safety standards when purchasing all semi-automatic handgun models. Prior law included an exception for “single shot” pistols that could be temporarily modified to not fire on a semi-automatic basis.

Prison ID Cards:

California identification cards will be given to state prisoners upon their release in order to assist them in applying for jobs, housing and/or social services.

Hot Weather Breaks:

Mandates paid 5-minute breaks for employees who work outdoors during hot weather.

Employer Liability:

Employers that use contract labor will be held liable for all payment and/or safety issues. For example, if a company uses contract labor from a third party staffing agency, and the staffing agency failed to pay the worker, the business can be held liable.

Paid Sick Leave

Effective July 1, 2015, the law allows workers to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Penalties can be enforced on employers that do not provide mandatory paid sick leave.

The law is largely expected to benefit fast food and retail workers in service-industry jobs that don’t offer paid sick leave.

Paid Family Leave:

Paid family leave now includes parent-in-laws, grandchildren and siblings. This is a state benefit, paid for by the California Employment Development Department.

Plastic Bags:

Statewide ban on single-use plastic bags goes into effect July 1 at grocery stores and pharmacies. The law expands to convenience stores and liquor stores in 2016.

Kill Switches:

Effective July 1, all smartphones sold in California must be equipped with anti-theft technology that allows an owner to make the phone inoperable if lost or stolen.

College Grants:

Requires public high schools to electronically submit the grade point average of all graduating seniors to the California Student Aid Commission to insure that more students are offered Cal Grants.

Mug Shots:

Makes it illegal for websites to profit by posting police mug shots and charging a fee to have them removed.

Birth Certificates:

In addition to mother and father options, birth certificates will now have a “parent” option for same-sex couples.

Death Certificates:

On death certificates, coroners are now required to list the gender consistent with how the deceased person identified as, rather than their anatomy.

Interns and Volunteers:

Amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to prohibit discrimination against interns and volunteers on the basis of any legally protected classification (e.g. religion, race, sexual orientation, etc.).

Assisted-Living Homes:

Raises the maximum fine from $150 to $10,000 for cases of physical abuse, and up to $15,000 for violations that lead to a death. Nursing homes are also banned from receiving new patients until health and safety violations are corrected.

School Pesticides:

Gives parents the right to know what pesticides are used at schools and childcare facilities.


Requires local agencies to create sustainable groundwater management plans to ensure priority basins are sustainable by 2040.

Rescue Personnel:

Prohibits an employer from firing or discriminating against a person who takes time off to perform emergency duty as a volunteer firefighter, reserve peace officer, or emergency rescue personnel.



Published: Jan. 1, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 38