California is one step closer to becoming the first state to enact legislation banning caste-based discrimination. Senate Bill No. 403 adds caste to the list of characteristics protected by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the California Education Code.
On September 1, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 699 into law, prohibiting employers from entering into or attempting to enforce noncompete agreements, which are void under state law. Meanwhile, another bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 1076, which would reinforce the state’s broad ban on noncompete agreements, nears passage in the state legislature. Together, the bills come amid a nationwide push to ban noncompete agreements and other restrictive covenants in employment and further California’s leading public policy stance against such agreements.
As the September 14, 2023, deadline to pass bills during the current session of the California Legislature fast approaches, the California Senate and Assembly are considering several employment law bills. Many are likely to pass. Below is a summary of some of the more significant bills.
On August 28, 2023, California State Senator Dave Cortese (D-15) announced last-minute amendments to Senate Bill (SB) No. 553. SB 553, if enacted, would require virtually every employer in California to adopt comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans, starting on July 1, 2024.
The California Civil Rights Council recently amended the regulations interpreting California’s 2018 Fair Chance Act, which go into effect October 1, 2023. The new regulations add restrictions, make clarifications, and significantly change the California background check process.
On August 17, 2023, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Standards Board held its monthly meeting and received public comments on the proposed indoor heat illness prevention standard. Multiple stakeholders expressed concerns about the proposed regulation’s overbroad scope, lack of scientific data to support the control measures, and foreseeable undue burden on employers.
The Hawaiian island of Maui has been ravaged by unprecedented and quickly moving wildfires, which have taken a particular toll on hospitality employers. As the U.S. enters peak hurricane season, the Hawaiian and Canadian wildfires and the flooding caused by the recent California tropical storm serve as a reminder for employers to consider implementation or revision of their disaster plans, among other legal and practical considerations.
On August 9, 2023, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) convened an advisory committee to provide input on proposed emergency changes to Title 8, section 5204, Occupational Exposures to Respirable Crystalline Silica, of the California Code of Regulations.
On August 4, 2023, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) issued its notice to amend the existing Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations to add section 3396, heat illness prevention in indoor places of employment. The Standards Board received public comments regarding the proposed regulation on May 19, 2023. On August 4,2023, the Standards Board opened the 15-day notice comment period, which ends on August 22, 2023.
On July 21, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit kept in place a ruling that local delivery drivers who made deliveries completely inside California are still engaged in interstate commerce and exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).
On July 14, 2023, the California attorney general (AG) announced a surprising “investigative sweep” into employer compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) and its implementing regulations, sending a stark message that the focus of CCPA compliance is not limited to tech companies.
The California Supreme Court recently held plaintiffs may pursue non-individual Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims in court, even after their individual claims are sent to arbitration. The ruling departed from the Supreme Court of the United States’ holding in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana.
On July 20, 2023, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal/OSHA Standards Board) held its monthly meeting and received public comments on Petition File No. 597, a proposal to amend Title 8, General Industry Safety Orders, Section 5204 of the California Code of Regulations to require stricter control measures concerning respirable crystalline silica exposure for workers in the engineered stone fabrication industry.
The Supreme Court of California recently held that the California Workers’ Compensation Act does not bar an employee’s spouse from bringing a negligence claim against the employer where the employee contracts COVID-19 at the workplace and brings the virus home to the employee’s spouse. The court also held that an employer does not owe a duty of care under California law to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to an employee’s household members.
Employers often go to great lengths to protect company documents and communications concerning and discussing confidential trade secret information. But what happens when employees leave, bring a whistleblower claim, and the employer learns they have sent themselves numerous confidential communications containing trade secret information? What about when an employee later attempts to introduce those documents as evidence in a subsequent whistleblower lawsuit? Unfortunately, employers often have limited options in this situation given various federal and state whistleblower protections in place.
In an unexpected turn of events, a California court postponed enforcement of the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) regulations until March 29, 2024. The court’s final decision came at the eleventh hour on June 30, 2023, just one day prior to the scheduled enforcement start date of July 1, 2023.
The California Legislature is poised to make it even more difficult for hospitality and business service providers to operate in California. Senate Bill (SB) No. 723 amends California Labor Code Section 2810.8, which provides recall rights to certain hospitality and business services employees laid off because of COVID-19 and is scheduled to sunset in December 2024. SB 723 eliminates the sunset provision and makes Section 2810.8 permanent.
On June 28, 2023, the California State Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment held a hearing on Senate Bill (SB) 553, which if passed as drafted, would establish workplace violence prevention standards applicable to virtually every employer in California.
Several state and local minimum wage rates will soon increase, beginning on July 1, 2023 (with some increases taking place during other months in the summer and fall). This article presents the state and major locality minimum wage increases for mid-2023, along with related changes in the minimum cash wage for tipped employees where applicable.
On May 31, 2023, the California Senate passed Senate Bill (SB) No. 553 by a vote of 29–8. The legislation would establish new workplace violence prevention standards in California.
In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court of California concluded that an employee’s disclosure about suspected violations of the law to the employer or a government agency is protected whistleblowing activity under California’s Labor Code, even when the disclosure relates to information already known by the employer or a government agency.
On May 19, 2023, in San Diego, California, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) received public comment regarding the proposed Indoor Heat Standard. The board took public comment and discussed the regulation on the closing day of the forty-five-day comment period.
On February 16, 2023, California Assembly Member Wendy Carrillo, along with Senator Newman and Assembly Member Haney introduced Senate Bill (SB) 686, which, if passed, would increase the health and safety protections of domestic workers.
A bill pending in the California Senate, Senate Bill (SB) No. 616, proposes to expand the number of paid sick days that California employers must offer to employees.
On February 15, 2023, California State Senator Dave Cortese (D-15) introduced Senate Bill (SB) No. 553, which originally aimed to require the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to adopt regulations requiring general industry employers to adopt a workplace violence prevention plan as part of the employer’s injury and illness prevention plan.
On March 29, 2023, the California Supreme Court put the final nail in the coffin of an employee’s claim that California Labor Code Section 204 requires employees to be paid on weekends. The California high court declined to review the case Parsons v. Estenson Logistics, LLC, in which an employee had sought to pursue claims under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) alleging he was consistently paid two days late each week because his employer paid wages due on Saturday on the following Monday.
On April 7, 2023, the Los Angeles City Council proposed an ordinance to increase the minimum wage for both hotel workers and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) workers.
On April 14, 2023, the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) announced that it will consider providing employers two-month extensions on the upcoming May 10, 2023, deadline to comply with the state’s new pay data reporting obligations regarding workers supplied by labor contractors.
A California appellate court recently ruled that an employee may pursue claims under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) that her former employer violated the state’s mandatory paid sick leave law. On the February 24, 2023, the California Court of Appeal Fourth Appellate District in Wood v. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals addressed language in the paid sick leave law that provides that “any person or entity enforcing this article on behalf of the public as provided for under applicable state law” is entitled “only to equitable, injunctive or restitutionary relief.”
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board recently published the official draft version of an indoor heat illness prevention standard. The new proposed regulation would apply to indoor places of employment when the temperature reaches at least 82 degrees Fahrenheit when employees are present.