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.

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 Proposes to Prohibit Employment Discrimination Against Marijuana Users

A bill recently introduced in the California Assembly proposes to prohibit discrimination against employees who use cannabis off the job. The legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) No. 2188, would amend California’s employment antidiscrimination law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and make it an unlawful practice for an employer to discriminate against an adult applicant or employee based upon the “person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.”

California Nonsolicitation Clause Held Enforceable Under Narrow Exception for Sale of a Business

California law generally prohibits the enforcement of nonsolicitation agreements, but the law includes a narrow exception associated with the sale of a business. In Blue Mountain Enterprises, LLC v. Owen, a recent decision from the Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District, the appellate court upheld a ruling in favor of the buyer of a business under this exception.

California Posts Updated Reference Materials and FAQs for Filing 2021 Pay Data Reports

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) posted updates to its California Pay Data Reporting Portal User Guide and California Pay Data Reporting: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guidance for the 2021 reporting year on its pay data reporting landing page on January 31, 2022. The DFEH has set the deadline for filing 2021 pay data reports as April 1, 2022.

Burned-Out Workers and Time-Off—Do Employment Laws Allow Flexibility?

As the United States gradually emerges from the pandemic, employers (and especially those in the tech sector whose workforces can easily work remotely) are looking for ways to help frazzled and burned-out employees. In addition, many employees are seeking opportunities to preserve the flexibility they gained during pandemic remote-work arrangements. Time off, company holidays, and workday flexibility are among the top remedies for these concerns. But outmoded state and federal labor laws may impede a new era of worker freedom.

California Supreme Court Issues Significant Meal Period Decision

Taking a meal break in California is no simple affair.  Culminating seven years of litigation involving one California employer, on February 25, 2021, the Supreme Court of California issued its unanimous opinion in Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC, resolving two questions regarding California meal periods. The court’s opinion also raised, but did not resolve, questions regarding meal period compliance that will likely challenge employers and litigants for years.

California Pay Data Reporting: New Web Page and 10 FAQs for Employers That Report to the DFEH

On September 30, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a pay data reporting requirement for employers that assigns responsibility for collecting such data to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). To assist employers with this filing requirement, the DFEH recently established a web page and published answers to a a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that address several topics related to the upcoming filings, which are due no later than March 31, 2021.

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Issues COVID-19 FAQs

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).

California Prohibits Most “No Rehire” Provisions in Settlement Agreements

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.

California’s New Hairstyle Antidiscrimination Law May Signal the Beginning of a National Trend

Signaling a growing movement to align culturally inclusive practices with legal protections, California has become the first state to expressly ban discrimination based on hairstyle and hair texture associated with a person’s race. On July 3, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsome signed into law Senate Bill No. 188, the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act (CROWN Act).

California Pay Equity Data Collection Legislation Closer to Passing

Currently, certain employers are required under federal law to file annual Employer Information Reports (EEO-1) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These EEO-1s must contain data regarding demographics of the employer’s workforce. Accordingly, employers covered by federal EEO-1 reporting requirements were required to file EEO-1 Component 1 data from 2018 by May 31, 2019, and must still submit Component 2 EEO-1 (pay and hours worked) data for their workforces by September 30, 2019. Not to be outdone, the State of California is poised to impose a similar requirement on employers.

California’s Paid Family Leave Program to Expand from 6 to 8 Weeks

California is expanding state benefits available to workers who lose wages while taking time off to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. On June 27, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California’s 2019-20 state budget, which included an expansion of the state’s family temporary disability insurance program administered through the Employment Development Department (EDD). The benefit program is commonly referred to as “paid family leave” or PFL.

A Dozen Major Employment Law Bills Wind Through the California Legislature

The California State Senate and Assembly have been busy this year, moving a number of employment law bills through the legislative process. May 31, 2019, was the deadline for either the assembly or the senate to pass a bill and send it to the other house. A few employment-related bills failed to advance, but there are still a dozen major bills marching forward.

Please Release Me: New California Civil Code Section 1542 Release Language Effective January 1, 2019

Given the litigious environment in California, employers operating in the state are in great need of enforceable general release terms in severance and settlement agreements. California employers entering into severance or settlement agreements will want to be aware of the amendment to California Civil Code Section 1542.

Governor Brown Signs Final Round of Employment-Related Legislation

Once again, Governor Jerry Brown ends the legislative year by signing a flurry of employment-related legislation. This year, however, is Governor Brown’s last year to do so, and next year we will report about the employment-related legislation that the new governor (whoever that is) undoubtedly will have signed.