Public Assistance and Discrimination Protections

Employees who are enrolled in public assistance programs, which is defined as meaning the Medi-Cal program, are entitled to certain protections.

An employer is prohibited from:1

  • Discharging, discriminating or retaliating in any manner against an employee who enrolls in a public assistance program;
  • Refusing to hire a beneficiary because they are enrolled in a public assistance program; and
  • Disclosing to any person or entity that an employee receives or is applying for public assistance, unless otherwise permitted by state or federal law.

“Employer” is defined by the law as an individual or organization that employs 100 or more beneficiaries of the Medi-Cal program to work in this state.

This new law also requires state agencies to prepare an annual list of the top 500 employers with the most number of employees enrolled in a public assistance program. The reports will be made public and will be prepared starting in January 2016. The anti-discrimination protection was intended, in part, to ensure that employers would not discriminate against Medi-Cal beneficiaries in order to keep their names off the public lists.

Only individuals enrolled in a public assistance program for six consecutive months within the preceding budget year and employed by the same employer for at least one quarter or three months are counted as “beneficiaries” under this law. Moreover, individuals who are enrolled in Medi-Cal because of disability or being under 18 or over 65 years of age are not counted.

Employees cannot be unlawfully denied the benefits of any program or activity that is funded by or receives funds from the state. Employees also cannot be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that is conducted, operated or administered by the state or by any state agency, is funded directly by the state or receives any financial assistance from the state.2

Legal References

1. Govt. Code sec. 13084

2. Govt. Code sec. 11135