A number of noteworthy labor and employment laws made their way through the California Legislature this year. Below is a list of those enacted by the Governor:
SB 63, authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, extends parental leave laws for companies with 50 or more employees, the California Family Rights Act, to companies with 20 to 49 employees. The bill provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected parental leave for parents to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. Employers are prohibited from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes this leave. SB 63 better aligns job protected leave laws with paid leave available through the Paid Family Leave (PFL) program funded through employee payroll deductions.
AB 46, authored by Assemblymember Jim Cooper, clarifies that the Equal Pay Act also applies to public employees.
AB 168, authored by Assemblymember Susan Eggman, prohibits an employer from seeking salary history information, relying on an applicant’s salary history in determining whether to offer the applicant employment, or relying on salary history to set salary. Upon request, the employer must also provide the pay scale for the position for which an applicant is applying.
Minimum Wage Increases
In 2016, SB 3, authored by Senator Leno, was signed into law. The measure went in to effect January 1, 2017 and increased the state’s minimum wage requirement for the year to $10.50 for employers with 26 or more employees. Additionally, the law set a schedule of incremental minimum wage increases every year through 2022 when the schedule eventually tops out at $15 per hour. As of January 1, 2018, the minimum wage requirement increases to $11 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $10.50 for employers with 25 or less employees. Accordingly, the increased 2018 minimum salary for exempt employees would be $45,760 and $43,680 respectively. A complete schedule of increases can be found via the bill link above.
Immigrant Workers Rights
AB 291, authored by Assemblymember David Chiu, extends the State Bar Act protections to prohibit disclosure of tenants’ immigrations or citizenship status to federal immigration authorities. The State Bar Act makes it a cause for suspension, disbarment, or other discipline for any member of the State Bar to report suspected immigration status or threaten to report suspected immigration status of a witness or party to a civil or administrative action or his or her family member, as defined, to a federal, state, or local agency because the witness or party exercises or has exercised a right related to his or her employment. This bill expands that provision to make it a cause for suspension, disbarment, or other discipline for a member of the State Bar to report suspected immigration status or threaten to report suspected immigration status of a witness or party to a civil or administrative action or his or her family member, as defined, to a federal, state, or local agency because the witness or party exercises or has exercised a right related to the hiring of residential real property.
AB 450, authored by Assemblymember David Chiu, imposes various requirements on public and private employers with regard to federal immigration agency immigration worksite enforcement actions. Except as otherwise required by federal law, the bill prohibits an employer or other person acting on the employer’s behalf from providing voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to enter nonpublic areas of a place of labor unless the agent provides a judicial warrant, except as specified. The bill also prohibits an employer or other person acting on the employer’s behalf from providing voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to access, review, or obtain the employer’s employee records without a subpoena or court order, subject to a specified exception.
SB 54, authored by Senator Kevin De Leon, prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security departments, from using money or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes. The bill applies those provisions to the circumstances in which a law enforcement official has discretion to cooperate with immigration authorities. The bill would require, by October 1, 2018, the Attorney General, in consultation with the appropriate stakeholders, to publish model policies limiting assistance with immigration enforcement to the fullest extent possible for use by public schools, public libraries, health facilities operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state, and courthouses, among others. The bill would require, among others, all public schools, health facilities operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state, and courthouses to implement the model policy, or an equivalent policy.
AB 1008, authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, prohibits an employer, with certain exceptions, from inquiring into or considering the conviction history of an applicant until that applicant has received a conditional offer, and, when conducting a conviction history background check, to consider, distribute, or disseminate information related to specified prior arrests, diversions, and convictions.
SB 33, authored by Senator Bill Dodd. Current law requires a court, on petition of a party to an arbitration agreement alleging (1) the existence of a written agreement to arbitrate a controversy and (2) that a party to the agreement refuses to arbitrate the controversy, to order the petitioner and the respondent to arbitrate the controversy if the court determines that an agreement to arbitrate exists, unless the court makes other determinations. This bill adds to these determinations instances in which a state or federally chartered depository institution is seeking to apply a written agreement to arbitrate, contained in a contract consented to by a respondent consumer, to a purported contractual relationship with that consumer that was created by the petitioner fraudulently without the consumer’s consent and by unlawfully using the consumer’s personal identifying information.
SB 306, authored by Senator Bob Hertzberg, authorizes the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to commence an investigation of an employer, with or without a complaint being filed, when specified retaliation or discrimination is suspected during the course of a wage claim or other specified investigation being conducted by the Labor Commissioner. The bill also authorizes the commissioner, upon finding reasonable cause to believe that any person has engaged in or is engaging in a violation, to petition a superior court for prescribed injunctive relief.
Joint Employer Liability
AB 1701, authored by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, specifies that all contracts entered into on or after January 1, 2018, require a direct contractor making or taking a contract in the state for the erection, construction, alteration, or repair of a building, structure, or other work, to assume, and be liable for, specified debt owed to a wage claimant that is incurred by a subcontractor, at any tier, acting under, by, or for the direct contractor for the wage claimant’s performance of labor included in the subject of the original contract.
Protections for Service Members
AB 1710, authored by the Committee on Veterans Affairs, conforms state law to the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act by protecting service members from hostile work environments in their civilian jobs.
Workplace Harassment Prevention
SB 396, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara, requires employers with 50 or more employees to train supervisors on prevention of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation as part of other anti-harassment training. Additionally, the bill requires employers with 5 or more employees to post the Transgender Rights in the Workplace poster beginning January 1, 2018.