2015 Labor Update for Employers

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2015 Labor Update for Employers


AB 1522: Mandated Paid Sick Leave For California Employees

AB 1522, the “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014,” requires California employers to provide paid sick leave benefits to their employees, including all full-time, part-time, temporary, migrant and seasonal employees. Employers must provide paid sick leave to these employees if they work 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment.

Unlike many other California laws, AB 1522 does not exclude small employers with a limited number of employees. Employers are defined expansively to include “any person employing another.”

The new law applies July 1, 2015.


AB 2288: The Child Labor Protection Act Provides Additional Damages for Victims

Enforcement of child labor laws has always been a priority for federal and state agencies. The Child Labor Protection Act of 2014 (“CLPA broadens the potential penalties against violators of these laws. The CLPA authorizes treble damages to an individual who was “discharged, threatened with discharge, demoted, suspended, retaliated against, subjected to an adverse action, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms or conditions of his or her employment” because the individual filed a claim or civil action alleging a violation of employment laws that arose while the individual was a minor.

The new law applies January 1, 2015.


AB 1443: Volunteers and Interns Receive “Employee” Anti-Discrimination Protections

AB 1443 amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and extends its prohibitions against discrimination and harassment to volunteers and unpaid interns. Previously, these prohibitions (e.g., on account of race, religious creed, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation — and many others) expressly applied to “apprentice programs” and “training programs” that specifically “led to employment,” but they did not apply expressly to unpaid intern or volunteer programs that were not designed to lead to actual employment. In addition, the FEHA now prohibits discrimination and harassment not just in the “selection” or “termination” of apprentices, unpaid interns and volunteers, but also discrimination and harassment in the “training” or “other terms or treatment” of such persons. As a result, virtually any discriminatory act is prohibited throughout the duration of the unpaid intern or volunteer’s involvement with an employer.


AB 1897: More Costly For Employers To Use Independent Contractors At Their Workplaces

Normally, when it comes to paying wages and obtaining workers’ compensation insurance, an employer is only responsible for its own employees. AB 1897, however, changes this normal rule and creates additional responsibility for California employers. Under AB 1897, when a California employer uses an independent contractor at the employer’s jobsite to perform any part of the employer’s “usual course of business,” and the independent contractor has a total crew of six or more non-exempt workers at the jobsite, the employer will also be jointly responsible for the “wages” of the independent contractor’s workers and for their workers’ compensation insurance.

Because AB 1897 creates a major shift in responsibility for wages and workers’ compensation insurance, employers who utilize independent contractors at their worksites need to pay careful attention to its requirements. AB 1897 is only triggered when the employer “obtains or is provided workers to perform labor within its usual course of business from a labor contractor.” An employer’s “usual course of business” means its “regular and customary work” which is “performed within or upon” its premises or worksites.

AB 1897 also does not apply to certain employers, including small employers whose combined workforce has 25 or fewer workers (when counting both its own employees, and the workers of the labor contractor it utilizes).

The new law applies January 1, 2015.


AB 2053: Employers Must Provide Supervisorial Training on “Abusive Conduct”

Employers that are already required to provide sexual harassment training to supervisors must additionally provide training on “abusive conduct.” Since 2006, employers with 50 or more employees have been required to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisors. The training must be provided within six months of the time the employee becomes a supervisor, and every two years thereafter. AB 2053 now imposes the additional requirement on these employers to “include prevention of abusive conduct as a component” of the required sexual harassment training.

Under the new law, “abusive conduct” is defined as conduct that a “reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.” While “[a]busive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance,” the law provides that “[a] single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.”

The new law applies January 1, 2015.


AB 2617: No Mandatory Arbitration of Hate Crimes

Under AB 2617, a company may not require that, as a condition of providing goods and services, any person and/or business sign a mandatory arbitration agreement that waives its right to sue under the Ralph Civil Rights Act or the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act. The Ralph Civil Rights Act prohibits violence or threats of violence based on an individual’s race, color, religion, ancestry, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or position in a labor dispute (California Civil Code section 51.7).

The new law applies January 1, 2015.


AB 1723: Citations for Minimum Wage Violations May Include Waiting Time Penalties

Under existing law, the California Labor Code provides three avenues to address minimum wage disputes (administrative wage claims before the Labor Commissioner under Labor Code section 98, civil actions in court under Labor Code section 1194, and Labor Commissioner citations under Labor Code section 1197.1). AB 1723 will expand the Labor Commissioner’s authority with respect to citations. Pursuant to Labor Code section 1197.1, the Labor Commissioner can, after an investigation, issue a citation to the person who has paid the employee (or caused the employee to be paid) less than the state minimum wage. Prior to AB 1723, the Labor Commissioner was authorized to enforce the citation and recover civil penalties ($100 for initial violation/$250 for subsequent violations), restitution of wages, and liquidated damages. In addition to those penalties, AB 1723 now authorizes the Labor Commissioner to assess waiting time penalties pursuant to Labor Code section 203 in connection with the citation. (Section 203 provides a waiting time penalty for an employer’s willful failure to timely pay any wages of an employee who is discharged or who quits, by continuing the employee’s wages for up to 30 days.) The person cited has the right to a hearing by timely contesting the citation, proposed assessments, and/or penalties.

The new law applies January 1, 2015.


AB 2751: Retaliation Victims Entitled to Civil Penalty

Current law prohibits an employer from discharging or retaliating against an employee who has filed a claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”). This includes a possible civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation, but the Labor Code does not specify where the funds go. AB 2751 amends Labor Code section 98.6(b)(3) to clarify that the civil penalty is to be paid to the employee who was the victim of retaliation.

The new law applies January 1, 2015.


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McDowall Cotter provides comprehensive legal services in three areas of practice: civil litigation; business; and wealth preservation. To learn more visit us at https://www.mcdlawyers.net. We are a San Mateo based law firm and for more than 50 years, McDowall Cotter’s chief objective has been to deliver exemplary legal services that are personalized, effective and efficient.