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).
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.
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.
On August 30, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 778 into law, thereby giving employers more time to comply with the state’s sexual harassment training requirement.
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
California’s minimum wage rate increased on January 1, 2019, to $12.00 per hour for businesses employing 26 or more employees and $11.00 per hour for those with 25 or fewer employees.
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.
California’s pay equity law has been amended to clarify certain ambiguities regarding proper interview questions, disclosure of pay scales, and the application of the law to existing employees.
California’s meal and rest break rules are extremely technical and nuanced—and a failure to properly comply with them can result in penalties. Here are answers to six frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding compliance with this intricate area of California labor and employment law.
Like a pride of lions flashing teeth and fangs, the California legislature is on the hunt in 2018. As has become an annual spring ritual, Sacramento politicians have once again proposed a progressive labor agenda.
News accounts report that thousands of Californians celebrated the first day of 2018 by exercising their new right to legally purchase marijuana for recreational use. Recreational marijuana shops were overwhelmed by long lines of customers.
California’s minimum wage rate increased on January 1, 2018, to $11.00 per hour for businesses employing 26 or more employees and $10.50 per hour for those with 25 or fewer employees. The increase is a result of California Senate Bill 3, which was signed into law in 2016.
In the days leading up the October 15 deadline, Governor Brown signed and vetoed a number of California labor and employment law bills that had recently passed by the September legislative deadline. Here is an overview on the newest laws and the bills that are gone for now.
On October 5, 2017, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 450, which will prohibit employers, under some circumstances, from providing consent to immigration agents to enter certain areas of the workplace. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2018.
On October 12, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 168, prohibiting California employers from asking job applicants about their salary histories.
On October 12, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed the New Parent Leave Act into law, extending unpaid leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement to employees of businesses with as few as 20 employees. Commenting on Senate bill (SB) 63, Governor Brown stated, “today’s actions will make a positive difference for women, children and families across the state.”
In a recent, unpublished opinion, a California Court of Appeal found in favor of an employer on a marital status discrimination claim than an employee brought under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
Several California labor and employment law bills passed in both the state assembly and senate on or before the September 15, 2017, legislative deadline. Governor Brown will have until October 15, 2017, to sign or veto these bills.
The City of San Diego joined a growing list of state and local jurisdictions by enacting a pay equity ordinance on July 31, 2017.
The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has published a new form that must be added to the growing list of documents that employers are required to provide to employees at the time of hire.
Several California labor and employment law bills passed in the state assembly or senate before the June 2, 2017, legislative deadline. The legislature now has until September 15, 2017, to pass these bills in the second house. Thereafter, the governor will have until October 15, 2017, to sign or veto any bills that pass in both houses.
Many employers enforce attendance policies which assign an “occurrence” for unscheduled, unapproved absences. Although employers generally have discretion to implement attendance policies, such policies should be carefully crafted to avoid running afoul of antidiscrimination and antiretaliation provisions found in certain state and local paid sick leave laws.
Many employers offer light duty programs to employees who are temporarily disabled. Reasonable accommodation obligations imposed by California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) may come into play when administering such programs.
The California legislature is off to a quick start with a large number of labor and employment law proposals. Currently, 71 bills propose to amend the California Labor Code, and several additional bills seek to modify antidiscrimination laws. Democrats not only control both the California State Senate and Assembly, but gained a supermajority with the power to override a gubernatorial veto in the last election. Party leaders have pledged to fight and counteract any changes in policy on the federal level. It seems that the time is ripe for a progressive labor agenda.
The California minimum wage is scheduled to increase on January 1, 2017 to $10.50 per hour for businesses employing 26 or more employees. Small employers with 25 or fewer employees will not see an increase until 2018. The increase is a result of SB-3, which was signed into law earlier this year.
The California legislature and governor showed no signs of slowing down this year and enacted a long list of new employment laws.