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California employees, employers brace for changes

There are a lot of changes to California's employment laws on the horizon, all set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Not all of them, however, are being met with open arms from employees -- or their employers.

Here's what you should know about some of the new changes that could affect you:

1. You may no longer be an independent contractor

AB 5 makes it much harder for companies to regularly employ independent contractors as a matter of business. Now, there's a much stricter classification test being put into place -- and truckers, graphic artists, journalists, freelance writers and others aren't happy about it. Proponents say that it will keep gig workers from being exploited by giving them minimum wages, health benefits and sick leave. Opponents -- many of them freelancers of some kind -- say that it will kill their livelihood as companies turn elsewhere. Some companies, like Uber, have vowed to essentially ignore the law and fight it out in court.

2. Mandatory arbitration with your employer is out

Employers can no longer require employees to waive their rights or due process under the federal Labor Code or the Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA) -- nor can your employer legally retaliate if you decline to enter that kind of agreement voluntarily.

3. You have longer to file a claim against your employer

In the past, employees who had been subjected to illegal discrimination, retaliation or harassment by their employer only had one year to make a claim through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Now, you have three -- which better reflects the time people may need to consider the personal ramifications of a lawsuit against a company.

There are a number of other big and small changes that could affect your future. If you're uncertain about your rights under the law, it may be worthwhile to consult with an attorney.

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