Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP

Employment Updates

New California Employment Bills Approved by the Governor

October 15, 2017 was the deadline for Governor Brown to decide whether to approve or veto several employment bills that were passed by the California Legislature in 2017.  The laws signed by Governor Brown are summarized below and will become effective January 1, 2018.

AB 450 (Immigration Worksite Enforcement Actions):

AB 450 prohibits employers from allowing federal immigration enforcement agents to access non-public areas of the workspace without a judicial warrant or subpoena.  It further requires employers to provide notice to employees when their I-9 or other employment records are inspected within 72 hours of the inspection.  Penalties for violating these provisions of the new law are: $2,000-$5,000 for the first violation and $5,000-$10,000 for any subsequent violations. 

The California Supreme Court Clarifies Day of Rest Statutes

On May 8, 2017, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Mendoza v. Nordstrom, Inc., No. S224611, 2017 WL 1833143 (Cal. May 8, 2017), clarifying California’s day of rest statutes (California Labor Code Sections 550-558.1), which prohibit an employer from “caus[ing] his employees to work more than six days in seven,” but do not apply “when the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week or six hours in any day thereof.”  The California Supreme Court answered three important questions.

(1) Is the day of rest calculated by workweek or does it apply on a rolling basis to any seven-consecutive-day period?

City of Los Angeles Passes Ban The Box Ordinance

On November 30, 2016, the Los Angeles City Council passed the “Fair Chance Initiative,” also known as the “Ban the Box Initiative,” which prohibits employers that do business in Los Angeles from inquiring about or asking about a job applicant’s criminal history.  The ordinance will go into effect on January 1, 2017.

An employer may only inquire about an applicant’s criminal history if the applicant is going to work in Los Angeles after offering the applicant a “conditional offer of employment.”  After providing the applicant this conditional offer, the employer is prohibited from taking any adverse action, including withdrawal or cancellation of the applicant’s conditional offer, unless the employer performs a written assessment linking the applicant’s criminal history with the risks inherent in employing the applicant. 

New Retirement Plan Requirements for Certain California Employers

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed legislation approving the California Secure Choice Retirement Program (S.B. 1234) (“Secure Choice”), which provides access to retirement savings accounts (“Secure Choice Accounts”) established and maintained by the state of California for the estimated 7.5 million employees in California that currently do not have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans.  Employees are automatically enrolled in Secure Choice unless they opt out.  Employees enrolled in Secure Choice automatically contribute 3 percent of their annual salary or wages to their Secure Choice Accounts, unless they specify a different contribution rate or opt out.  Private employers that do not offer employer-sponsored plans are required to enable their employees to make these contributions to their Secure Choice Accounts directly from their paycheck.

Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Class Action Waiver in Arbitration Agreement

On August 22, 2016 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Morris v. Ernst & Young, LLP ruled that class action waivers in arbitration agreements required by employers as a condition of employment are illegal and unenforceable, because they violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  The opinion was a split 2-1 decision with a strong dissent by Judge Ikuta, who noted that three other Federal Courts of Appeal have decided that class action waivers in employer promulgated arbitration agreements are valid and enforceable and that several recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have favored individual rather than class-based arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act.

City of Los Angeles Doubles Paid Sick Leave Entitlement Effective July 1, 2016

Mayor Eric Garcetti approved Los Angeles’ new sick leave entitlement ordinance on June 2, 2016.  The Ordinance will provide employees who work in the City of Los Angeles at least 2 hours per week with the ability to accrue and use up to 48 hours of sick leave per year, twice the amount provided by state law.  Enacted as an urgency matter, the new sick leave obligations become effective for employers on July 1, 2016.

Many of the requirements of the Ordinance track California’s existing sick leave law, but the following changes are unique to Los Angeles:

  • The Ordinance doubles the amount of sick leave for all employees, regardless of the size of the employer, and requires that employees be permitted to use up to 48 hours of accrued sick leave each year.

Immediate Amendments to California’s New Sick Leave Law

Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 304 on Monday July 13, 2015, amending the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014.  The Amendment went into effect immediately and changes key provisions of the law regarding calculation of the rate of pay, method of accrual of paid leave, and recordkeeping.

California’s new sick leave law went into full effect on July 1, 2015, requiring employers to provide three days of annual paid sick leave to virtually all employees.  But the law left many questions unanswered regarding exactly how to implement the new requirements, particularly for exempt employees and for employers with existing paid time off policies. 

New “Quickie” NLRB Election Regulations on Union Representation Go Into Effect April 14, 2015

On March 31, 2015, President Obama vetoed a congressional resolution which sought to overturn new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rules, calling for expedited elections as to whether an employer’s employees will be represented by a labor union.  Congress had criticized the new NLRB rules as creating “ambush” elections which do not give the employer sufficient time to communicate its message and educate employees about the disadvantages of union representation.

The new NLRB election rules will now go into effect on April 14, 2015.  The new rules will shorten the time between the filing of an election petition by a union seeking to represent an employer’s employees and the election date. 

California’s New Sick Leave Law Mandates Notice Using State Form Starting January 1st

California’s new sick leave law will require employers to provide three days of annual paid sick leave to virtually all employees beginning on July 1, 2015.  However, the new law actually takes effect January 1, 2015, and imposes two immediate requirements upon employers:

Posting Requirement: By January 1, 2015, employers must post the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) poster regarding paid sick leave.  The poster can be found here, and printed on standard letter-sized printer paper.  If your company uses “all in one” labor compliance posters, be sure to confirm with your provider of such posters that the 2015 version includes the new DLSE sick leave notice.

New California Law Requires Training to Prevent Workplace Bullying

California employers will soon be required to train supervisory employees on the subject of workplace bullying.  On September 9, 2014, Governor Brown approved a bill that requires employers to add this subject to the biennial anti-harassment training they are already required to provide to supervisory employees.

Currently, California employers with 50 or more employees must provide training to all supervisory employees every two years regarding prevention of sexual and other unlawful harassment, and prevention of unlawful discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.  Starting January 1, 2015, the training will also have to address the prevention of “abusive conduct.”

At first blush, employers might not view the addition of such training as particularly significant.