Cal/OSHA Proposes Final Language for COVID-19 Regulation to Be Voted on November 17, 2022, at Standards Board Meeting

Following on the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) issuance on October 14, 2022, of a State Public Health Officer (SPHO) order that clarified the definition of “close contact” and “infectious period” to provide entities with strategies for working together, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board issued a fifteen-day notice with requests for written comments on proposed updated COVID-19 regulations to Title 8 of the General Industry Safety Orders.

CDPH Order Updates Definitions of ‘Close Contact’ and ‘Infectious Period,’ Clarifies What Is and Is Not Mandatory

On October 14, 2022, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director Tomás J. Aragόn issued a State Public Health Officer Order further clarifying the definitions of “close contact” and “infectious period” to provide entities and individuals with strategies for working together in a post-COVID-19 workplace.

California Takes Initial Steps to Adopt Revised Heat Illness and Wildfire Smoke Standards

On September 29, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) No. 2243, an amendment to section 6721 of the California Labor Code that will ultimately lead to changes to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) heat illness and wildfire smoke standards (sections 3395 and 5141.1 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations).

California Federal Judge Applies Viking River to Dismiss Representative PAGA Claims

In Johnson v. Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC, a decision issued on September 21, 2022, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an order compelling arbitration of a plaintiff’s individual claims under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and dismissing the remaining representative PAGA claims.

California Appellate Court Affirms Attorneys’ Fees for Meal and Rest Break Claims

On September 12, 2022, the California Court of Appeal held that employees bringing successful rest break and meal period claims are entitled to recover attorneys’ fees under California Labor Code section 218.5. The decision reversed a prior denial of attorneys’ fees by the appellate court following the Supreme Court of California’s May 2022 decision in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc.

Governor Newsom Signs COVID-19 Sick Pay, Small Business Relief Bill

California is extending COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) through the end of 2022 under a bill signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 29, 2022. Assembly Bill (AB) 152 will also set up a program to provide grants of up to $50,000 to qualified small businesses to cover costs incurred for COVID-19 SPSL.

Governor Newsom Signs Bill Imposing Game-Changing Pay Transparency Requirements

On September 27, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the state’s pay transparency bill into law, imposing several new and unprecedented requirements on California employers. With the signing of Senate Bill (SB) 1162, effective January 1, 2023, California will join Colorado, Washington, New York City, and other municipalities, in requiring that employers disclose pay ranges in job postings. California will break new ground in also requiring reporting on other demographic and pay information to the state.

California Governor Marks Labor Day 2022 by Signing FAST Recovery Act Into Law

On September 5, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom marked Labor Day 2022 by signing Assembly Bill (AB) No. 257, the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (FAST Recovery Act), into law. The new law creates the Fast Food Council within the California Department of Industrial Relations, which is tasked with setting minimum standards for fast-food industry workers related to wages, health and safety conditions, security in the workplace, the time off from work for protected purposes, and protections from discrimination and harassment.

California Passes Bill Protecting Employees’ Off-Duty Marijuana Use

California employers may soon be barred from discharging employees or refusing to hire individuals based on their off-duty use of marijuana, under a new bill headed to the governor’s desk. On August 30, 2022, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill (AB) 2188, which would prohibit employers from discriminating against “a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment” based on “the person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.”

California Bill Aimed at Providing Increased Rights to Fast-Food Workers Sent to Governor for Signature

On August 29, 2022, the California Legislature passed a heavily amended version of Assembly Bill (AB) No. 257, the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (FAST Recovery Act), which would provide increased rights to California’s more than 500,000 fast-food workers. The bill is now headed to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk.

Ninth Circuit Panel to Reconsider Decision Upholding California Mandatory Arbitration Ban

The panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that largely upheld California’s law banning mandatory arbitration agreements in the employment context just withdrew its decision. On August 22, 2022, two of the three judges on the panel decided to withdraw the panel’s prior opinion in Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America v. Bonta regarding Labor Code 432.6 which sought to prohibit mandatory arbitration as a condition of employment.

Key Considerations for California Employers When Drafting a Remote Work Agreement

More than two years have passed since the start of the pandemic, and many workers continue to work from home in some capacity. In fact, companies are offering remote positions as a hiring incentive to increase their job candidate pools. Before agreeing to remote work arrangements with new hires or current employees, especially those who are hourly and nonexempt, companies may want to consider certain factors to ensure that the arrangements will be feasible.

California Appellate Court Rules That Purely Digital Retail Businesses Are Not Covered Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act

On August 1, 2022, the Court of Appeal of the State of California, in Martinez v. Cot’n Wash, Inc., resolved two outstanding issues in the website accessibility field in a way that limits the reach of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) as part of a growing resistance in the judiciary to an onslaught of website accessibility claims.

Cal/OSHA Standards Board’s COVID-19 ETS Proposal Provisions

On September 15, 2022, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board will continue the long and arduous journey to establish COVID-19 safety measures in the workplace. Since the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) initial ETS took effect in November 2020, the Standards Board has addressed the evolving workplace safety challenges with a series of updates.

California High Court to Decide Viability of PAGA: Will Arbitration Agreements Still Serve as a Protective Shield for Employers?

There is a new, but not entirely unexpected, front in the continuing war over California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims. On July 20, 2022, the California Supreme Court granted review in Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc., opening the door for a ruling that potentially may complicate the relief provided to employers by the recent decision from the Supreme Court of the United States in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana.

No COVID-19 Slowdown for California PAGA Filings: The Data Is In

The COVID-19 pandemic did not slow down the pace of new California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) letters being filed with the state Labor Workforce Development Agency (LWDA), according to filing data. Instead, there was a significant increase in the filing of PAGA letters during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

Cal/OSHA Standards Board’s Draft COVID-19 Prevention Regulation Scheduled to Take Effect January 1, 2023

On May 6, 2022, the State of California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) adopted the third revision of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 emergency temporary standards (ETS), which is effective through December 31, 2022. On June 16, 2022, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board released its COVID-19 draft regulation, which is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2023.

California Department of Public Health Issues COVID-19 Guidance on Expanded Definition of ‘Close Contact’

On June 20, 2022, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued COVID-19 guidance, titled “Isolation and Quarantine Q&A,” that offers insight into the recent change to the definition of “close contact.” On June 8, 2022, the CDPH issued a revised order with new definitions of “close contact” and “infectious period.” Because the June 8 order was an “order of the CDPH,” these revised definitions were immediately incorporated into the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) requirements for exclusion of close contacts, which in turn impacted employers’ obligations under the ETS.

The Hazards of Remote Employee Layoffs: Wage and Hour Issues, Severance Agreements, and Unemployment Claims

Remote work has exploded since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with some employers hiring employees to work remotely anywhere in the United States. With the recent economic downturn, layoffs are beginning to occur, and for the first time a significant number of remote employees may be included in layoffs. Layoffs of remote employees present unique legal hazards for employers.