How does California law affect hiring?

Q. For the first time in a while, we need to hire new staff. What issues should we take into account during the recruiting process?

A. When recruiting and hiring, California employers face unique conditions that employers in other states may not encounter. Take the following factors into account.

California’s anti-discrimination law is broader than federal law. California law (Government Code sections 12926, 12940(a)) prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, pregnancy, genetic information, gender and gender identity, age, or sexual orientation.

California prohibits the using confidential or proprietary information of a former employer to “raid” employees of another employer.

However, noncompete agreements are not enforceable in California. (Business and Professions Code section 16600.) On the other hand, nonsolicitation-of-employee agreements are enforceable.

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California disability laws are broader than similar federal laws. When hiring, avoid making decisions based upon physical or mental characteristics unless they are clearly tied to business necessity. (Government Code section 12926.1 and 12926(i))

Recognize that local ordinances may prohibit height and weight discrimination—for example, San Francisco Police Code §3303 and Santa Cruz Municipal Code §§ 9.83.010-9.83.030.