Update on California Employment Laws Recently Enacted
A number of changes to California Employment Law have taken effect or were recently amended. The laws are summarized below. If you are experiencing difficulties at work regarding these situations, or would like to speak with an attorney regarding your employment rights, please give us a call.
Changes to the new law regarding Paid Sick Leave include requirements that:
-An employee must work for the same employer for 30 or more days within a year of the commencement of employment to be eligible to use PSL.
-Allow for alternative accrual methods for all leave banks.
-“Grandfather” in leave banks existing as of January 1, 2015.
-Allow employers with unlimited or undefined leave banks to indicate “unlimited” on the employee’s itemized wage statement.
-Allow employers to calculate the rate of pay for employees using any of three methods.
-Make other clarifications and exclusions from the PSL law, and delay its effective date for some employers.
California’s equal pay statute, first enacted in 1949, was significantly modified to lower the burden of proof for plaintiff’s claims, to greatly increase the burden of proof for an employer’s defenses, and to allow employees to ask other employees about the amount of their wages for the purpose of ascertaining whether there may be a factual basis for an equal pay claim. Governor Brown has referred to the new law as “the strongest equal pay law in the nation.”
Employment retaliation protections are extended to an employee who is a family member of a person who engaged in, or is perceived to have engaged in, legally protected conduct. This bill also exempts household goods carriers from the client employer and labor contractor liability provisions in this law.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating or otherwise discriminating against an employee for requesting accommodation of his or her disability or religious beliefs, regardless of whether the accommodation request was ultimately granted. The new law is intended to clarify a portion of the holding in the published decision of Rope v. Auto-Clor System of Washington, Inc. 220 Cal. App. 4th 635 (2013).
The Labor Commissioner is authorized to file a lien on real estate, or a levy on an employer’s property, or impose a stop order on an employer’s business in order to assist an employee in collecting unpaid wages where there is a judgment against the employer. Any employer, or individual acting on behalf of an employer, who violates any provision regulating minimum wages or hours and days of work in any order of the Industrial Welfare Commission, or who violates other related provisions of law may be held liable as the employer for such violation. A bond of up to $150,000 may be required of an employer who does not promptly pay a judgment for unpaid wages.
The Labor Commissioner will have the authority to issue a citation to enforce local minimum wage and overtime laws, including against an employer or person acting on behalf of an employer for violations of existing law related to reimbursements for expenses.
The duration of the “disability benefit period” is extended from 14 days to 60 days.
Two statutory provisions containing the term “alien,” used to describe any person who is not born in or a fully naturalized citizen of the United States, will be deleted from the Labor Code.
The Family School Partnership Act is expanded to broaden the authorized reasons for which an employee can take job-protected time off of work without the fear of discrimination or discharge by allowing workers to take time off work to: (1) find, enroll, or re-enroll his or her child in a school or with a licensed child care provider, and (2) to address a child care provider or school emergency, as defined. (SB 579; amends Labor Code sections 230.8 and 233).
Certain grocery stores that are sold to another entity will have specified obligations to retain grocery workers for a limited period of time.
The definition of an “unlawful employment practice” is expanded to prohibit an employer or any other person or entity from using the E-Verify system at a time or in a manner not required by federal law, or not authorized by a federal agency memorandum of understanding, to check the employment authorization status of an existing employee or an applicant who has not received an offer of employment. There is a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation of the provisions of the bill.
Pedicab businesses might have the option of allowing alcohol to be served and consumed on board, if their employees are properly trained.