California recently amended state law with regards to smoking in the workplace. The bill, which was signed by the governor on May 4, 2016, is intended to “prohibit the smoking of tobacco products in all (100 percent of) enclosed places of employment in this state . . . eliminating the need of local governments to enact workplace smoking restrictions.” The former law had not applied to employers with five or fewer employees and had allowed employers to permit employees to smoke in the company break room. It had also exempted several types of workplaces and enclosed spaces from coverage, including hotel lobbies, banquet rooms, bars, taverns, and warehouses.
The new amendment eliminates nearly all of these exceptions. The law now specifically provides that an employer or owner-operator of an owner-operated business may not knowingly or intentionally permit, and may not engage in, the smoking of any tobacco products at any “place of employment” or “enclosed space.” This includes the smoking of any e-cigarette or vapor product and applies to all employers that are open to the public, even if the business has no employees (but is instead run solely by the owner). An “enclosed space” also now includes “covered parking lots, lobbies, lounges, waiting areas, elevators, stairwells, and restrooms that are a structural part of the building.”
Bass, Berry & Sims’ Labor Talk blog features news, commentary and insights on the complicated and constantly changing labor and employment laws affecting employers.