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New Employee Safety Bill May Increase Litigation in California

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The California Senate recently pass a bill which, if enacted, would permit employees in California to refuse to report to work when they feel “unsafe.”  The bill purports to apply during major natural disasters and states of extreme peril, but contains little limit on what may constitute an emergency condition permitting an employee to refuse to report to work. In fact, the bill is not limited to declared “states of emergency”, but expands to “emergency conditions”, including any event that poses a “serious danger” to a worker’s immediate health and safety. Presumably, it is up to the employee to determine whether such emergency condition exists, since the bill only requires the employee report to their employer, “when feasible”, the state of emergency or emergency condition that requires the employee to stay home from work that day. If this bill is signed into law, we are likely to see an uptick in litigation over whether an employee was protected from termination by this new law.