New Legislation for 2019 - California Optometric Association
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New Legislation for 2019


Below are measures affecting optometry that were approved by Governor Jerry Brown. Unless stated otherwise, all new laws listed below took effect January 1, 2019. As employment, practice and other laws can be a complicated web for doctors of optometry to stay in compliance; COA provides its members with a free half hour of legal assistance. Go here for more information on our Legal Resources Program. 


Optometry Branch Office (1386): Effective January 1, 2019, the previous "50 percent rule" requiring optometrists with more than one branch office to be "in personal attendance at each of his or her offices 50 percent of the time during which the office is open for the practice of optometry",  has been repealed. A new law, sponsored by the State Board of Optometry, instead allows optometrists to own up to 11 offices. For more information, click here for COA's fact sheet about this new law.


Sexual Harassment Training (SB 1343): Current law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide supervisors with two hours of sexual harassment training within six months of hire or promotion. Beginning January 1, 2020, all employers with five or more employees will be required to provide two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors and one hour to non-supervisorial employees within six months of hire or promotion, and every two years after that. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing will be required to provide an online training course that meets the new legal requirements.


Lactation Accommodation (AB 1976): Under current state law an employer must provide a location other than a toilet stall for an employee to express breast milk. AB 1976 broadens the current law, stating that employers cannot designate a bathroom as a designated space to express breast milk. The bill deems an employer to be in compliance with this provision of law if all four of the following conditions are met:

  • The employer is unable to provide a permanent lactation location because of operational, financial, or space limitations.
  • The temporary lactation location is private and free from intrusion while an employee expresses milk.
  • The temporary lactation location is used only for lactation purposes while an employee expresses milk.
  • The temporary lactation location otherwise meets the requirements of state law concerning lactation accommodation.

This bill goes into effect January 1, 2019.


New Rule for Employers Considering Prior Convictions (SB 1412): SB 1412 confirms that employers are not prohibited from seeking or receiving an applicant’s criminal conviction history, including those convictions that have been judicially sealed or expunged, if the employer is required by state, federal, or local law to conduct criminal background checks for employment purposes.  However, SB 1412 limits the ability of an employer to gather such criminal conviction history only to those “particular convictions” that are either required by state or federal law to be reviewed or that would preclude the applicant from holding the position sought by state or federal law.


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