California Employment Legislation
The California Legislature adjourned on August 31st, having sent many employee wage and leave bills to Governor Jerry Brown, who has until September 30th to either veto the bills or sign them into law. Ten notable employment-related bills being considered by the Governor are highlighted below; information related to California employment legislation.
Wage and Hour
SB 1063 amends the Equal Pay Act to prohibit employers from paying employees a wage rate less than the rate paid to employees of a different race or ethnicity for substantially similar work. This bill also 1) responds to critics of the Fair Pay Act that the pay equity issue is not limited to gender and 2) makes the prior salary prohibition change proposed in AB 1676 if both bills are signed by the Governor and this bill is signed last. If AB 1676 is not signed into law, this bill would not incorporate the prior salary prohibition.
AB 1676 would prohibit employers from considering prior salary to justify any disparity in compensation. This bill is similar to AB 1017 (2015), which Governor Brown vetoed, stating his desire to wait and see whether last year's Fair Pay Act, SB 358 addressed pay equity issues. Existing law prohibits an employer from paying an employee at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.
AB 2899 requires that any employer, prior to filing an appeal of a decision by the Labor Commissioner relating to a violation of wage laws, must file a bond with the Labor Commissioner that covers the total amount of any minimum wages, liquidated damages, and overtime compensation owed. The bill would require that the bond be issued in favor of the unpaid employees and the total amount of the bond would be forfeited to the employee if the employer fails to pay the amounts owed within 10 days from the conclusion of the proceedings.
Leave and Benefits
SB 654 would, beginning January 1, 2018, significantly expand California's parental leave laws by requiring employers with 20 to 49 employees to provide up to six weeks of job-protected parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child's birth, adoption, or foster care placement. This bill also prohibits an employer from refusing to maintain and pay for the employee's continued group health coverage during the duration of the leave. Existing law, the California Family Rights Act (Gov. C. § 12945.2), applies only to employers with 50 and greater employees, and provides for at least 12 weeks of job-protected parental leave. This bill — dubbed the “New Parent Leave Act”— would impose many of the same requirements as CFRA.
AB 1978 creates the Property Services Workers Protection Act by establishing various requirements for the janitorial industry, to include registering annually with the DLSE, to protect janitorial employees from wage theft and sexual harassment. AB 1978 also 1) requires the DLSE to maintain a database of property service employers, 2) requires the DLSE to develop a biennial sexual harassment and violence prevention training, and 3) prohibits an employer from registering or renewing its registration if it has not fully satisfied any final judgment for unpaid wages or made appropriate tax contributions.
AB 1843 would prohibit employers from asking an applicant for employment to disclose any information regarding juvenile convictions. The bill would also prohibit employers from seeking or utilizing any information related to juvenile arrests, detentions, or court dispositions as a factor in their employment determination.
AB 2261 would provide the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) with new independent authority to, with or without an employee complaint, bring an action against an employer who it suspects may have terminated or otherwise discriminated against an employee in violation of any law under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner.
SB 1001 would make it an unlawful for an employer to a) request more or different documents than required under federal law to verify that an individual is not an unauthorized immigrant, or b) refuse to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine, c) refuse to honor documents or work authorization based on specific status or term that accompanies the authorization to work, or d) attempt to reinvestigate or re-verify an incumbent employee's authorization to work using an unfair immigration-related practice. Per SB 1001, job applicants and employees who suffer an “unfair immigration-related practice” can file a complaint with the DLSE for enforcement.
AB 2337 expands the notice requirement employers must give their employees regarding domestic violence protections. Specifically, this bill provides that an employer must inform each new employee, and to other employees upon request, of the rights protecting employees affected by domestic violence in writing.
SB 1241 prohibits an employer from requiring an employee, who resides and works in California, as a condition of employment, to agree to a provision that would either require the employee to adjudicate outside of California a claim arising in California or deprive the employee of the protection of California law with respect to a controversy arising in California. The bill also provides that any contract that violates these provisions is voidable by the employee unless the employee was represented by legal counsel during the contractual negotiations.
California Employment Lawyers
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