2019 Employment Law Updates for California

In response to the #MeToo movement, the need for greater gender equality, and clarification to existing contractual laws, there were new laws passed by Governor Brown in November of 2018 that affect California businesses. Below is a list of some of the most prominent laws that employers should review to ensure compliance.

2019 MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE:  January 1, 2019 the minimum wage in California goes up to $12.00 for employers with 26 or more employees and $11.00 for employers with 25 or less employees.  This wage increase will continue yearly until 2023.  The change in minimum wage also affects the salary requirement for exempt employees, who must be paid at least $45,760 (25 or less); or $49,920 (26 or more) in addition to meeting the other requirements for exempt status.  Local ordinances have also called for different minimum wage increases (some that are higher than the state as a whole), so be sure to check your locale to ensure compliance.  

SB 1343: EMPLOYERS WITH 5 OR MORE EMPLOYEES: this bill requires employers with 5 or more employees, including temporary or seasonal employees, to provide at least 2 hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisors and at least one hour of sexual harassment training to all nonsupervisory employees by January 1, 2020, and training every 2 years thereafter. 

 SB 1412: APPLICANTS FOR EMPLOYMENT; CRIMINAL HISTORY: this bill clarifies what information employers may use when screening job applicants.  There are certain employers, who by law, are required to inquire the criminal backgrounds of applicants and can deny those applicants a job based upon certain categories of criminal offense and criminal conduct.  This law clarifies what those limited exceptions are that employers may ask. 

SB 224: INCREASES THE TYPES OF JOB TITLES THAT CAN BE PERSONALLY LIABLE FR SEXUAL HARASSMENT: the bill adds “investor, elected official, lobbyist, director, and producer” among those listed persons who may be liable for sexual harassment (on an individual basis) under Civil Code Section 51.9. 

SB 1252: PAYROLL RECORDS: The existing law grants current and former employees the right to inspect or copy records pertaining to their employment, upon reasonable request.  The law also requires that employers respond to these requests within 21 days. The amended law requires that employers must provide a copy upon request, rather than requiring the employee to make a copy. The amendment leaves in place the employer’s right to charge the employee “the actual cost of reproduction.” 

SB 1300: UNLAWFUL EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES: DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT:  this law prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to execute a release of a claim or right under FEHA or from requiring an employee to sign a non-disparagement agreement or otherwise deny the employee the right to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment, as a condition of receiving a raise or bonus, or as a condition of continued employment

SB 826: CORPORATE BOARD OF DIRECTORS MUST HAVE A SET NUMBER OF WOMEN: in furtherance of creating gender equality, the Governor mandated that public companies with principle executive offices in the state of California must have a set number of women on the board of directors. 

SB 820: SEXUAL HARASSMENT, ASSAULT AND DISCRIMINATION CONFIDENTIALITY CLAUSES: this bill prohibits settlement agreements to include a provision that prevents the disclosure of factual information relating to certain claims of sexual assault, harassment or discrimination. 

AB 1309: WAIVER OF RIGHT OF PETITION OR FREE SPEECH:  this bill makes any provision in a contract or settlement agreement, entered after January 1, 2019, unenforceable that waives a party’s right to testify in an administrative, legislative, or judicial proceeding relating to alleged criminal conduct or alleged sexual harassment on the part of the other party when subpoenaed, or requested by writing to by an administrative body. 

Starbucks in Hot Water and How You May Be Affected Too

On July 26, 2018, the California Supreme Court handed down a new ruling that the federal de-minimus rule has not been adopted under California wage and hour statutes and regulations. The federal de-minimus rule allows employers not to compensate employees for working a trivial amount of time (up to 10 minutes) each day without compensation if the time is administratively difficult to track. However, in this case, a Starbucks manager, alleged that he and other workers who performed store closing tasks were due wages for time spent working off the clock each shift, and the California court agreed. Read more

A Post Harvey, Moore, Louis C.K. World

It is everywhere.  People you thought would never do it…they have done it.  People you respected, want to respect, can no longer respect, are facing sexual harassment charges, and their reputations, businesses, and livelihoods are going up in flames.  The world is changing because women are finding their collective voice to face their harassers and to change the workplace culture.  It’s about time.  But, what will this month’s headlines do to evoke change?  And what role do you, as an employer, have in creating a non-hostile workplace?Read more

To Telecommute Or Not To Telecommute – That is the Question For Employers

IBM recently implemented a dramatic change, announcing that they are ending telecommuting at their company, which not only impacts the hundreds of thousands of employees who work there, but could have an impact on companies around the United States and the world.  Overall, in the United States, about 25% of all employees work remotely all or at least most of the time.Read more

Top 10 COVID-19 Employment Questions

Nannies, Housekeepers, and Gardeners, Oh My! – Am I an Employer?

Many of us need the valued help of others to make our lives run smoothly. I, for one, would not be able to be a practicing attorney and mother of two busy boys, without the assistance of baby-sitters and the woman I call “my fairy princess,” Vicky, our housekeeper. When I first brought someone into our home, I never thought of myself as an “employer.” I thought about it as two people having different needs that served a similar purpose (i.e. I needed to work, or go grocery shopping, or take a shower), and the baby-sitter needed money to support their livelihood. I did not consider the legal ramifications of this employment relationship.Read more

The “Business” of Practicing Medicine: The Top 5 Mistakes Doctors Make

Doctors who run their own practices have to be superhuman in a sense. Not only are they expected to practice their medical specialty to a high standard of care, they are required to keep abreast of electronic reporting compliance, employment laws, OSHA, payroll, HIPAA requirements, marketing, collections, and so much more. It is no wonder then that mistakes (unrelated to medical malpractice) are made, costing doctors time, money, and stress.

Read more

Bill O’What Now?

The New York times unleashed a bombshell six days ago, on April 1, 2017, revealing that five women were paid approximately $13 million in exchange for keeping silent about the sexual harassment charges against Bill O’Reilly.  All of the women accusing Mr. O’Reilly of sexual harassment either worked for him or appeared on his Fox network show, “The O’Reilly Factor.”  The allegations included verbal abuse, unwanted advances and lewd comments.  This was not the first time that Fox News had to pay a large settlement for sexual harassment claims against Mr. O’Reilly.Read more

Don’t Make This Uber Mistake

The recent headlines coming out of Uber have been dominating employment law feeds and for good reason. What is taking place currently at this company is such an unfortunate situation that could have been so easily avoided if the employees’ complaints had been properly handled.

According to her written account of what took place, Susan Fowler, a site reliability engineer at Uber, did the right thing.Read more