Unfortunately, given the fast spread of the disease, it is now not uncommon for employers to have at least one employee who has contracted COVID-19, forcing the employee to take extended time off from work. In many cases, these employees will not have enough paid time off available to keep them paid until they are able to return to work. In some workplaces, generous co-workers are willing to donate their paid time off to the sick employee, and employers are exploring ways to implement paid-time-off donation or leave-sharing policies. As with everything in California, paid-time-off donation and leave-sharing policies present challenges and, if not implemented correctly, could come back to haunt the employer and the employees.
On March 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Among other important provisions, the CARES Act dramatically expands the availability of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to workers impacted by COVID-19 who otherwise would not normally receive such benefits, including independent contractors and other so-called gig workers.
On March 27, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council passed Article 5-72HH “COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave,” an ordinance that would require “employers with 500 or more employees nationally” to provide 80 hours of paid sick leave to their employees working in the City of Los Angeles.
With the rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, California employers have endeavored to ensure the health and safety of their workforces while at the same time heeding the anti-discrimination provisions of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Addressing a number of unique issues arising out of the current crises, on March 20, 2020, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) issued answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAQs address compliance with both the anti-discrimination provisions in FEHA as well as leave of absence rights found in the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
On March 19, 2020 California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 directing all residents to stay at home, except as necessary to maintain “essential critical infrastructure sectors.” The order left open the potential for the governor to add additional sectors whose workers may continue to report to work.
California, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York have all issued statewide shelter-in-place orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and more states may follow. Employers that do not qualify for an exemption under the applicable state order or that decide to severely curtail or shut down operations may want to consider some of the following issues.
In an effort to increase social distancing in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, on March 15, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom held a news conference in which he issued an executive order calling for the home isolation of all individuals who are 65 and older, as well as individuals with chronic health conditions.
On February 27, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Rizo v. Yovino, (again) found that salary history is not a “factor other than sex” that can justify a pay disparity in defense of a claim under the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA). The Ninth Circuit made the same finding in 2018, but the Supreme Court of the United States remanded the case because the judge who authored the original opinion died before it was published.
On February 20, 2020, at its monthly public meeting, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted unanimously to approve the proposed “Outdoor Agricultural Operations During Hours of Darkness” regulation that amends Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), Sections 3441 and 3449.
The Supreme Court of California recently agreed to review the California Court of Appeal’s decision in Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC, 40 Cal. App. 5th 1239 (2019), as limited to the following question: Did the Legislature intend the term “regular rate of compensation” in Labor Code section 226.7, which requires employers to pay a wage premium if they fail to provide a legally compliant meal period or rest break, to have the same meaning and require the same calculations as the term “regular rate of pay” under Labor Code section 510(a), which requires employers to pay a wage premium for each overtime hour?
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has released Interim Guidance for Protecting Health Care Workers from Exposure to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This guidance pertains to “health care facilities, laboratories, public health services, police services and other locations where employees are reasonably anticipated to be exposed to confirmed or suspected cases of aerosol transmissible diseases.”
In a favorable opinion for employers, the California Court of Appeal for the Second District concluded the following on December 4, 2019, in David Cacho v. Eurostar, Inc.
The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board continues to have a multitude of draft regulations on its plate for this coming year. Employers and trade groups will have the opportunity to influence California’s new workplace safety regulations at the advisory committee level and by attending the monthly Standards Board meetings, which will occur throughout the state. Here we highlight some of the most critical updates for California employers.
On January 16, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California entered an order granting a preliminary injunction requested by the California Trucking Association (CTA), which was represented by Ogletree Deakins shareholders Robert R. Roginson, Alexander M. Chemers, and Spencer C. Skeen, in a matter challenging Assembly Bill (AB) 5 as to motor carriers operating in California.
On January 13, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez left in place a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining the enforcement of California’s Assembly Bill (AB) 5 as to motor carriers operating in California.
Assembly Bill (AB) 51, which attempts to ban certain mandatory arbitration agreements, was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020. However, a coalition of business organizations filed a suit on December 9, 2019 seeking to enjoin AB 51.
Under a California law that took effect on January 1, 2020, employers will have to provide extra notices to California employees enrolled in flexible spending accounts (FSAs) explaining the “use it or lose it” federal tax rules that apply to those FSAs.
As 2019 winds down, employers operating in California will not want to forget that January 1, 2020, rings in several new California laws affecting the workplace. Here’s a New Year’s Eve countdown of 10 important new California employment laws taking effect in 2020 and actions employers can take before the ball falls in Times Square.
As discussed in our prior article, California recently enacted Assembly Bill (AB) 51, a law that attempts to ban certain mandatory employment arbitration agreements in the state.
In 2020, a number of states’ minimum wage rates will increase. The following chart lists the states’ (and certain major localities’) minimum wage increases for 2020—and future years if available—along with the related changes in the maximum tip credit and minimum cash wage for tipped employees. The federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per
On September 30, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California legislation—Senate Bill (SB) 206—that would permit college student athletes to benefit financially (for example, from endorsement deals) from their names, images, and likenesses while still in school. Governor Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act, which Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) sponsored, with much fanfare, alongside a high-profile professional basketball player and several former college student athletes. The new law is scheduled to take effect in January 2023.
Among the numerous worker-protection bills California governor Gavin Newsom signed last month was Assembly Bill (AB) 9, giving employees a two-year extension to file Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) claims.
The California wildfire smoke regulation, an emergency regulation that took effect on July 30, 2019, is scheduled to become permanent on January 28, 2020. In the wake of the wildfires that have emerged throughout California, employers may want to become familiar with the regulation’s requirements.
On October 10, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a state statute purporting to prohibit employers from requiring employees to enter into certain types of arbitration agreements. This new law is creating significant uncertainty and anxiety among employers. What is the practical impact of AB 51 in light of its possible preemption by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and other potential challenges to its limits on arbitration?
California employers have long grappled with two wage and hour questions:
- What rate of pay should be used to calculate meal and rest period premiums in California?
- Does the facially neutral “rounding” of employee work time, which results in a small subset of employees being undercompensated, result in systematic undercompensation on a class-wide basis?
California is set to become the only state to outlaw predispute mandatory arbitration of statutory employment claims. On October 10, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Assembly Bill (AB) 51, which prohibits employers from requiring employees to arbitrate claims arising under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and related employment statutes.
On October 11, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 25, which amends the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). AB 25 seeks to ease the pain for employers struggling to comply with the CCPA, which goes into effect on January 1, 2020.
Employment litigation settlement agreements often include a mutually negotiated “no-rehire” provision by which the departing employee agrees not to seek employment with the company in the future. A recently enacted California law will require companies to refrain from including such provisions in most instances.
Although California does not have a specific biometric privacy law like Illinois’s 2008 Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) or its recently enacted 2019 Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act (AIVIA), stay tuned for the impact of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which goes into effect on January 1, 2020. The CCPA will directly affect how certain employers use biometric data in the workplace.