Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP

Employment Updates

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.  More>>

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.  More>>

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. More>>

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.  More>>

Employers Must Provide Three Days of Paid Sick Leave Each Year, Starting July 1, 2015

Beginning July 1, 2015, a new law will require California employers to provide virtually all of their employees with at least three days of annual paid sick leave.  Signed by Governor Brown on September 3, 2014, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 is very broad, applying to both exempt and non-exempt employees who work in California for 30 days or more each year.  Covered employees will accrue sick time at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.

Employers may limit an employee’s use of sick time to 24 hours per year, but accrued sick time carries over to the following year of employment.   More>>

Good News For Employers Looking To Avoid Class Actions

June 23, 2014

Today, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, regarding the enforceability of class-action waivers in arbitration agreements.  The Court finally acknowledged precedent from the United States Supreme Court and held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts any state law that would preclude an employee from waiving the right to bring a class-action proceeding in arbitration.  As a result, employers can require employees to individually arbitrate any claims that are typically asserted on a class-wide basis, such as relief for alleged wage and hour violations.  The Court also rejected the argument that the type of class-action waiver at issue in Iskanian was unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act because that statute’s general protection of concerted activity does not bar class-action waivers. More>>

Keep Your Company Up To Date

By: Thomas F. Reed & Whitney B. Kringel

Within the ever-changing employee benefits landscape, there have been several important employee benefit developments recently meriting special attention.

First, in January of 2013 new Regulations were published overhauling the HIPAA Privacy Rules. Among other things, the new rules apply certain parts of the privacy rules to business associates, expand individuals’ rights to access their protected information and requires revisions of business associates’ agreements, privacy notices and privacy policies.

Employers and health funds need to, at a minimum, (i) review their policies and procedures, (ii) re-document their business associate agreements and (iii) review and republish their privacy notices. More>>

New Minimum Wage Bill Signed Into Law

On September 25, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill to increase California’s minimum wage (AB 10).  The bill was passed overwhelmingly on straight party-line votes by the California state senate and assembly.  The bill would increase the current $8 per hour minimum wage to $9 per hour effective July 1, 2014.  The minimum wage will automatically increase a second time to $10 per hour effective January 1, 2016. Employers with collective bargaining agreements in California should be certain to determine whether they will remain in compliance with overtime laws in light of the pending rate change.  Under most California Wage Orders, employers and unions are permitted to negotiate for overtime premiums that differ from the requirements of the Wage Orders provided that employees are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement designating wages, hours of work, and working conditions, and the employees’ regular hourly rate is not less than 30 percent more than the state minimum wage.  More>>

Good News For Employers On Class Action Waivers

Recently, the United States Supreme Court gave employers a big boost on the enforceability of class action waivers in arbitration agreements. In American Express Co. v. Italian Colors, Justice Scalia wrote a forceful opinion holding that a class action waiver in an arbitration agreement is enforceable, even as to federal anti-trust claims, and even if the plaintiffs convince a trial court that the cost of proving their claims on an individual basis would deter such litigation. Justice Scalia’s opinion built on other recent decisions favoring arbitration, including: (1) AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, in which the Court held that California state law invalidating class action waivers in the consumer arbitration agreements is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) and unenforceable; and (2) CompuCredit Corp. More>>

Piece-rate Employees Must Receive An Hourly Minimum Wage

Gonzalez v. Downtown LA Motors, LP, (CA2/2 B235292 filed 3/6/13, pub. ord. 4/2/13) In Gonzalez v. Downtown LA Motors the California Court of Appeal held that employers who compensate automotive service technicians on a “piece-rate” basis must also pay hourly minimum wage for time spent waiting for vehicles to repair or performing other non-repair tasks directed by the employer. In Gonzalez a class of 108 automotive service technicians who worked for Downtown LA Motors Mercedes Benz (“DTLA”) brought a wage and hour claim disputing their “piece-rate” compensation. Under this plan, DTLA pays technicians a flat rate for each hour spent working on repairs, but does not pay for the hours spent waiting at the site for work or doing non-repair tasks assigned by DTLA.  More>>