California Amends Hate Crime Law

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California Amends Hate Crime Law

California has enacted legislation (Assembly Bill 2282), which clarifies the state’s hate crime law as it pertains to the workplace and increases the potential for penalties.  The bill addresses a growing problem with hate crimes surging to the highest in 12 years.  The new law takes effect January 1, 2023.

Existing law considers the symbol of the Nazi party (commonly referred to as a “swastika”), the noose, and the burning cross as hate symbols and criminalizes their use to terrorize others.  However, state law has had different rules both in terms of punishment and the location in which theses symbols are expressly prohibited.  The purpose of the Assembly Bill 2282 is to align the law in these areas.

Assembly Bill 2282 now makes clear that the display of these and other symbols is prohibited in the workplace if used for the purpose of terrorizing a person who works at or is otherwise associated with the workplace.  The law states that the intent of the legislature isn’t to criminalize ancient swastika symbols that are associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism and are symbols of peace, but to punish those who may choose to use the symbols to demonstrate hate.

AB 2282 makes the criminal penalties the same for using each symbol and increases the locations where they are banned to include K-12 schools, colleges, cemeteries, places of worship, places of employment, private property, public parks, public spaces, and public facilities.

The bill will increase the existing penalty for a first conviction for violating the law from one year to up to three years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000 for a felony conviction and $5,000 for a misdemeanor conviction.  For subsequent convictions, the maximum fine increase to $15,000  for a felony and $10,000 for a misdemeanor.

By updating this code, California ensures that individuals who spread terror are punished to the proper and full extent of the law, regardless of the symbol used to demonstrate hate.

So, what does this mean to you, the employer?  Employers have important roles to play in responding to hate incidents and crimes.  Employers should review their policies and procedures to ensure compliance and train supervisors on how to respond to suspected violation.  By doing your job efficiently and carefully, you can reinforce the message that hate crimes will be investigated aggressively and won’t be tolerated.

Here at Epps and Coulson, LLP we can help you navigate the best way to address these new hate crime laws and answer any questions you may have.  You may contact Dawn at:

Information contained in this Memo is intended for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.  It is likely considered advertising.  Epps & Coulson, LLP encourages you to call to discuss these matters as they apply to you or your business.

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