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Recent Changes in California Employment Law (part 1)

Posted by Eric Kingsley | Nov 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

With 2016 right around the corner, the employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley take time to highlight recent changes in California employment law:

PAGA Amendment Provides Chance to Cure Certain Paystub Violations

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Assembly Bill 1506 amended the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) to rein in actions asserting noncompliance with itemized wage statement requirements stated in the California Labor Code. Specifically, Section 226(a) requires, among other things, that employers provide their employees with wage statements that contain the inclusive dates of the period for which the employee is paid, as well as the name and address of the legal entity that is the employer.

Per AB 1506, employers have 33 calendar days after the postmark date on a written notice describing an alleged violation to “cure” such wage statement problems and avoid a PAGA lawsuit. To take advantage of the amendment, employers must give fully compliant itemized wage statements to all allegedly aggrieved employees for each pay period in the three years prior to the date of the written notice. Click here to read a previous post detailing requirements of AB 1506.

Request for Religious or Disability Accommodation Deemed a Protected Activity

Assembly Bill 987, effective January 1, 2016, provides that an employee's request for a reasonable accommodation based on religion or disability is a “protected activity” that can support a claim for retaliation under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), regardless of whether the request was granted. The law overturns a Second District Court of Appeal (Rope v. Auto-Chlor System of Washington, Inc.) holding that a mere request for an accommodation does not constitute a protected activity sufficient to support a FEHA retaliation claim. Click here to read more about AB 987.

California Fair Pay Act

The California Fair Pay Act (“CFPA”) amends California's Equal Pay Act (Labor Code Section 1197.5), closes “loopholes” and provides much tougher equal pay law for California employers. The CFPA takes effect on January 1, 2016, and includes provisions in the following areas:

  • Substantially Similar Work – The CFPA will amend California's Equal Pay Act to require that employees be compensated equally for “substantially similar work” in terms of skill, effort, and responsibility when performed under similar working conditions.
  • Justifying Wage Disparities – Currently, employers are able to defend disparities in wages based on one or more of several factors, including a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or a bona fide factor other than sex. However, under the CFPA, while employers may still defend disparities using such factors, employers will also be required to demonstrate that each factor relied upon is applied reasonably, and further, that the factors so relied upon account for the entire wage disparity.
  • Same Establishment – The CFPA will eliminate the requirement now present in the Equal Pay Act that the alleged discrimination is based on a comparison of wages of employees located in the “same establishment.”
  • Anti-Retaliation Provisions – Under the CFPA, employees will be given increased protection against retaliation for seeking to enforce the CFPA. Those suffering from retaliation may seek reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits, including interest, as well as appropriate equitable relief [Section 1197.5(j)(2)].
  • Recordkeeping Requirements – The CFPA will increase the length of time that an employer is required to maintain records relating to wages and job classifications, and other conditions of employment of the employees, from two years to three years [Section 1197.5(d)].

Click here to learn more about the new California Fair Pay Act.

About the Author

Eric Kingsley

In practice since 1996, attorney and firm co-founder Eric B. Kingsley has litigated complex cases and authored numerous appellate briefs in both state and federal court on behalf of the California law firm of Kingsley & Kingsley, including over 150 class actions. Mr. Kingsley concentrates his pra...

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