The State legislature was busy this past year, particularly in the area of employment law. Employers will want to be aware of the changes to make sure they do not have an un-happy year. Here is a synopsis of some of the notable changes:
AB 10 – Minimum Wage Increase
Under existing law, the minimum wage for all industries is no less than $8.00 per hour.
AB 10 will increase the minimum wage to no less than $9.00 per hour on or after July 1, 2014. The minimum wage will increase again to no less than $10.00 per hour on or after January 1, 2016.
Employers should also reexamine the wages of their exempt employees in light of the minimum wage increase to ensure they still qualify for an exemption.
AB 442 – Minimum Wage Violations
Under existing law, employers who fail to pay the minimum wage to their employees face a citation by the Labor Commissioner consisting of a civil penalty and restitution.
AB 442 expands existing law to also subject the employer to a citation by the Labor Commissioner for liquidated damages, in addition to a civil penalty and restitution. Recovered wages and liquidated damages will be payable to the employee.
AB 390 -Withholding’s from Wages
Existing law criminalizes the failure to make agreed-upon payments to health and welfare funds, pension funds, or specified benefit plans.
AB 390 expands existing law to criminalize the failure to remit state, local or federal withholding’s from employee wages.
TIME OFF AND LEAVE
SB 770 – Paid Family Leave
Under existing law, paid family leave wage replacement benefits are available for employees who take leave to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, or domestic partner.
SB 770 allows employees to receive paid family leave wage replacement benefits to care for a seriously ill grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law.
SB 400 – Stalking Victims
Existing law provides certain protections to employees who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, including prohibiting employers from taking adverse action against such victims who take time off from work related to the domestic violence or sexual assault as long as the employee complies with certain conditions.
SB 400 extends the protections in existing law to victims of stalking. It also prohibits employers who learn of an employee’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking from discharging or retaliating against the employee because of their status as victim, and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to such employees (e.g., implement safety measures).
SB 288 – Victim’s Rights
Under existing law, employers are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against employees who take time off to serve on a jury, to appear as a witness if they are victims of crime, or to take time off to obtain relief if they are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.
SB 288 extends the protections of existing law by prohibiting employers from discharging or discriminating against employees who are “victims,” as defined in the law, and take time off upon the victim’s request to appear in any proceeding affecting their rights as a victim.
AB 556 & 292 – FEHA
Under existing law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination and harassment in employment on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, or sexual orientation.
AB 556 expands the protected classes under FEHA to include military and veteran status. (Employers may inquire into military or veteran status in order to award a veteran’s preference under the law.)
SB 292 clarifies that sexual harassment does not have to be motivated by sexual desire.
SB 530 – Judicially Dismissed or Sealed Convictions
Under existing law, employers are generally prohibited from asking applicants or employees for information about an arrest or detention not resulting in a conviction, or from seeking information about a referral or participation in a pre- or post-trial diversion program.
SB 530 extends the protections to generally prohibit employers from asking applicants or employees for information about convictions that have been judicially dismissed or ordered sealed.
AB 263 -Employee Protected Conduct
Under existing law, employers are prohibited from firing or discriminating against an employee or applicant who has engaged in protected conduct.
AB 263 expands existing law to prohibit retaliation or adverse action against an employee or applicant who has engaged in protected conduct, and expands protected conduct to include a written or oral complaint that the employee was underpaid wages.
ENFORCEMENT OF VIOLATIONS
AB 1386 – Liens on Employer Property
Under existing law, the Labor Commissioner hears employee complaints in administrative proceedings that may result in final orders. Existing law then provides a process for turning final administrative orders into judgment liens with the same force and effect as civil court judgments.
AB 1386 provides an alternative procedure to judgment liens that allows the Labor Commissioner to turn final administrative orders into liens that may be recorded in any county where the employer has property, and remain in place for 10 years, unless sooner satisfied or released.
SB 462 – Attorney Fee’s and Costs
Under existing law, a court must award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to the prevailing party in any action for the nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension fund contributions if any party requests attorney’s fees and costs upon the initiation of the action.
SB 462 amends the law to only allow attorney’s fees and costs to a non-employee prevailing party (e.g., an employer) if the court finds the employee brought the action in bad faith.