Watchlist: New California Laws That Will Affect the Restaurant Industry

The California Legislature passed hundreds of new laws during the 2017 legislative session.  Several of these laws, covering a wide range of topics will affect restaurants and their employees in 2018 and beyond. 


Mandatory Unpaid Parental Leave: Starting in January 1, 2018, all employers with more than 20 employees were required to provide new parent employees who have worked at the business for more than one year with a mandatory 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave.

Ban-the-Box: AB-1008 makes it unlawful under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act for employers with five or more employees to have an employment application question seeking the disclosure of an applicant’s conviction history until they have given the applicant a conditional offer.  It also creates a new procedure for employers to consider the criminal conviction history of job applicants before making employment decision.  It also gives applicants who are rejected from jobs because of their criminal history the right to be informed of this reason and to respond before employers can make a final decision.

Salary History: Employers may not ask applicants to provide their salary history at any point during the job hiring and negotiation process.  Employers also have to provide the pay scale for positions if requested to do so by the applicant.  However, if a job applicant voluntarily provides their salary information without prompting from the potential employer, the employer would be able to use that information in making a salary determination.

Immigration Enforcement: AB-450 imposes requirements on all California employers with regard to cooperating with federal immigration agency worksite enforcement actions.  Unless they are required to do so by federal law, the bill prohibits employers from providing voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to enter nonpublic areas of a place of labor unless the agent provides a judicial warrant.  Employers face a penalty of up to $5,000 for a first violation and up to $10,000 for each subsequent violation.  The bill also prevents employers from re-verifying that a current employee is eligible for employment, unless the verification is required by specified federal law.  Employers are subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 for a violation of this prohibition, which will be enforced by the Labor Commissioner.

Alcoholic Beverage Commission

No Video Recordings of ABC Hearings: AB 1285 prohibits the Alcoholic Beverage Commission from creating a videographic recording of a hearing as a record.  It also provides that a videographic recording is inadmissible in any proceeding before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board.  The stated reason for the bill is that a significant number of the witnesses testifying at ABC hearings are undercover police officers or minors.  The bill seeks to prevent ABC licensees from videotaping the proceedings and help protect the identity of minors, such as a minor decoy, as well as undercover ABC peace officers, by prohibiting video recording of an ABC administrative hearing.

Responsible Beverage Service Training Program: A new law provides for increased training and education program for retail licensees.  By July 2021, all alcohol servers will be required to successfully complete the Responsible Beverage Service training course.

Food Donations

The California Good Samaritan Food Donation Acts allows food facilities to donate food directly to end recipients for consumption.  It expands existing law that allows a food facility to donate any food that is fit for human consumption at the time it was donated to a nonprofit charity or food bank without being liable for any damages resulting from the consumption of the donated food.  The intention of the bill was to encourage entities to donate food without fear of liability.  However, if a restaurant donates food that it knows or has reason to believe is unsafe for consumption, the restaurant would still be liable under the law.

Baby Diaper Changing Stations

All restaurants, with an occupancy of over 60 are now required to install and maintain at least one baby diaper changing station if the facility is open to the public.  There shall be at least one safe, sanitary, convenient and publicly accessible baby diaper changing station that is accessible to women entering a restroom provided for use by women and one that is accessible to men entering a restroom provided for use by men, or at least one safe, sanitary, convenient and publicly accessible baby diaper changing station that is accessible to both men and women. This law applies to all new construction.  However, restaurants would not be penalized if a local inspector finds that installing a changing station would be unfeasible with the existing restaurant layout.

Milk Products

Any restaurant that manufactures hard frozen or soft-serve products is now required to obtain a limited manufacturing permit from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. This permit is only for products made for immediate consumption and not sold for resale. The purpose of the law is to give businesses greater flexibility in the on-site manufacture and sale of frozen desserts, while still protecting public health.

Marijuana Legalization

California will start issuing licenses for the marijuana industry and permitting recreational pot sales in 2018.  These laws are subject to a dense set of new regulations  from the Department of Food and Agriculture, Department of Public Health, and the Bureau of Cannabis Control.