Along with signing into law a variety of employment-related bills in the 2023–2024 legislative session, Governor Gavin Newsom also vetoed numerous bills that would have further affected California employers. Here is an overview of some of the more surprising vetoes.
- Governor Newsom vetoed employment-related bills that would have expanded the application of the Cal-WARN Act and required employers to give thirty days’ notice before returning remote employees to on-site work.
- The governor also vetoed legislation that would have amended the California Fair Employment and Housing Act by prohibiting discrimination specifically based on caste and adding “family caregiver” as a protected category.
VETOED—AB 524, Family Caregiver Status as a Protected Category
Assembly Bill (AB) 524 would have added “family caregiver status” as an additional protected category under the FEHA. While Governor Newsom noted his appreciation for “the intent of this bill,” he found it would place too large a burden on employers, given the ambiguity of its language.
VETOED—AB 1356, Expansion of Cal-WARN Act
Governor Newsom vetoed AB 1356, which would have significantly expanded the scope of application of the California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (Cal-WARN) Act. In doing so, Governor Newsom noted that there might be a better, more narrowly tailored way to address the bill’s intent.
VETOED—SB 403, Ban on Caste Discrimination
Senate Bill (SB) 403 would have banned caste discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the California Education Code. In vetoing the bill, Governor Newsom stated that “California already prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other characteristics, and state law specifies that these civil rights protections shall be liberally construed,” thus indicating that this type of discrimination is already covered under other expressly protected categories.
VETOED—SB 731, Thirty-Day Notice Before Returning to Office
SB 731 would have required employers to give thirty days’ notice to remote workers before requiring them to return to the office. In vetoing the bill, Governor Newsom stated, “Businesses, especially small businesses, may have limited employees to staff in-person positions and the 30-day advance notice requirement of return-to-work could be impractical, especially in times of critical need or emergencies.”