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EMPLOYMENT LAW NEWSLETTERS

 

January 2017

2017 EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

 

The State of California ushered in the New Year with several new laws affecting employers.  In addition, cities and counties across California continue the trend of enacting ordinances affecting the employment relationship. Employers should always check their local city and county websites for new laws affecting their businesses.   The following is a summary of the more prominent new laws affecting California employers.  Click here to read more>

 


 

November 2016 

THANKFUL REPRIEVE FOR EMPLOYERS

Nationwide Salary Level Increase For "White Collar" Exempt Employees Blocked by Texas Federal Court

On November 22, 2016, United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Texas, Judge Amos Mazzant III, issued a preliminary injunction blocking the U.S. Department of Labor's nationwide implementation of its final  rule re-defining which employees are exempt from minimum wage and overtime under the regulations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). The final rule was to take effect on December 1, 2016 and would have more than doubled the minimum salary level for executive, administrative, and professional workers classified as "exempt" from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to a minimum $913 per week ($47,476 per year). Click here to read more>


 

June 2016

MID-YEAR UPDATE:  WAGES GO UP AND UP

FLSA INCREASES MINIMUM SALARY FOR "WHITE COLLAR" EXEMPT EMPLOYEES

The U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") recently released its final rule updating regulations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), the effect of which increases the minimum salary requirements for executive, administrative, and professional workers classified as "exempt." The final rule takes effect on  December 1, 2016 . Generally,  "exempt" employees do not receive overtime pay whereas "non-exempt" employees receive overtime pay.* However, a s explained below, the benefits of having an exempt employee may be offset by these changes.  Click here to read more>>


 

April 2016

DON'T BE FOOLED - NEW FEHA REGULATIONS TAKE EFFECT APRIL 1, 2016

The Caliofrnia Fair Employment and Housing Council's amendments to the Fair Employment and Housing Act's (FEHA) regulations were approved on December 9, 2015 and take effect on April 1, 2016.  Employers should carefully review their postings, notices, policies, and employee handbooks to make sure that their policies on unlawful discrmination, harassment, and retaliations, as well as policies regarding pregnancy leave, rights and ogligations, are updated for compliance with the new regulations.  Click here to read more> 

 


 

January 2016

IT'S NOT A SWEET '16 YEAR FOR CALIFORNIA EMPLOYERS 

California legislators and Governor Jerry Brown ended the 2015 legislative session in a scurry to pass a windfall of employment-related bills.  Once again, California employers are challenged with even more laws that include amendments to California's Equal Pay Act, expanded anti-retaliation protections, and expanded Labor Commissioner powers. It will not be a sweet '16 year for California employers.  In addition, the employer-mandate under the federal Affordable Care Act will now apply to employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees.
 
Below is a summary of the most prominent laws affecting California employers. Click here to read more>

July 15, 2015

Urgency Bill AB 304 Passes:  Medicine for California's Paid Sick Leave Law

On July 13, 2015, Governor Brown signed the much needed and immediately effective Amendment to the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 ("Paid Sick Leave Law" or "the Act"), which the majority of provisions went into effect on July 1, 2015. 

Under the Paid Sick Leave Law, all employers, regardless of size, have two options for providing paid sick leave to all their employees.  With the accrual method, employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.  Employers have the option to cap the annual usage to three days or 24 hours paid sick leave per year.  Accruing paid sick leave also entitles employees to roll-over unused time into the next year, but employers can cap the accrual to six days or 48 hours.  Alternatively, employers can front load paid sick leave by providing three days or 24 hours of paid sick leave at the beginning of the year.  Click here to read more>


December 16, 2014

SCOTUS's Ruling on Non-compensable Time For Employee Security Screening Has Likely No Effect For California Employers

On December 9, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, No. 13-433 (U.S. Dec. 9, 2014) held that under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) hourly employees in Amazon warehouses do not need to be compensated for the time they spend waiting in security screening lines at the end of their shifts.   Integrity (the staffing company for Amazon) required warehouse employees to undergo a security "bag check" screening before leaving the warehouse at the end of their shifts.  The employees spent approximately 25 minutes each workday waiting to have their belongings screened before being able to leave. Click here to read more>


 

September 3, 2014

Governor Brown Signs "Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act of 2014" Requiring Employers to Provide Paid Sick Days to Their Employees

On Saturday, August 30, 2014, Governor Brown signed AB 1522 enacting Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act of 2014, which requires that employees accrue no less than one paid sick hour for every 30 hours worked for up to six days per year.  The new law, which takes effect next year, July 1, 2015, entitles employees to use accrued sick days beginning on the 90th day of employment. However, employers have discretion to advance accrued sick time.  Also, employers may limit the employees' use of paid sick days to 24 hours or three days in each calendar year, but the unused paid sick days are to carry over to the following calendar year. An employer has no obligation to allow an employee's total accrual of paid sick leave to exceed 48 hours or six days in a year, provided that an employee's rights to accrue and use paid sick leave are not otherwise limited. Click here to read more>


August 20, 2014

Governor Signs Law Allowing Employees To Recover Double The Amount Of Unpaid Wages For Up to Three Years

On August 19, 2014, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 2074 to amend Labor Code section 1194.2.  The effect of the amendment allows employees to recover double the amount of their unpaid wage claims for up to three years.  The statutory amendment clarifies that the statute of limitations on liquidated damages for failure to pay wages is the same three-year statute of limitations for the underlying wage claim.  Prior to AB 2074's passage, there was no prescribed statute of limitations for a claim of liquidated damages under Labor Code section 1194.2.  Click here to read more>

California Court of Appeal Decision Makes It Clear - Employers Must Reimburse Employees For Work-Related Cell Phone Expenses

Do you require your employees to use cell phones, be available by cell phone, or check and respond to work emails via smart phone?   Recently, the Court of Appeals made it clear that an employer must reimburse an employee for cell phone expenses attributed to work-related cell phone usage. Cochran v. Schwan's Home Service, Inc. (B247160).  The Court followed Labor Code section 2802(a), which provides in part that:  "An employer shall indemnify his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties...."  Section 2802 was designed to prevent employers from passing their operating expenses on to their employees.  Click here to read more>


June 30, 2014

"GOOD AND BAD NEWS" FOR CALIFORNIA EMPLOYERS WHO HAVE ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS WITH THEIR EMPLOYEES -  CLASS ACTION WAIVER IS ENFORCEABLE BUT PRIVATE ATTORNEY GENERAL ACTION WAIVER CANNOT BE ENFORCED

On Monday, June 23, 2014, the California Supreme Court issued its long awaited decision i Iskanian v. Cls Transp. L.A. (Case No. S204032).  The employee in Iskanian filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and similarly situated employees against his employer alleging wage and hour violations. Click here to read more>

 


June 11, 2014

New Minimum Wage Increases To $9.00 Effective July 1, 2014
 

Effective July 1, 2014, California's minimum wage increases to $9.00 per hour from the existing rate of $8.00 per hour for non-exempt employees.  Under AB 10, the minimum wage rate will increase again to $10.00 per hour starting January 1, 2016.  Click here to read more>

 


 

January 2014

CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT LAW ALERT

Employer New Law Checklist for 2014:

In 2013, Governor Brown signed many employee-friendly bills to take effect in 2014.  The following is a summary of the new laws in an effort to update and prepare your business for 2014.  Click here to read more>

 


 

July 2013

CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT LAW ALERT

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT:

NOT ALL COMPLIANCE DEADLINES HAVE BEEN POSTPONED FOR EMPLOYERS

Employers are you ready for October 1, 2013?

  • Deadline for all employers (even those with less than 50 employees) to give notice to all employees of healthcare insurance options.
  • Open enrollment begins for qualifying individuals and qualifying small businesses to purchase healthcare insurance with state exchanges.

Click here to read more>


 

December 2012

CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT LAW ALERT - NEW LAWS 2013

New Pregnancy Leave Regulations & Notices to Employees (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, sec. 7291.2, et seq.)

The Fair Employment and Housing Commission ("FEHC") made siginificant changes to California's pregnancy leave regulations affecting every California employer. These changes, some of which simply redefine terms and other which have a significant impact on employers, take effect December 30, 2012.

The most significant changes to California's pregnancy disability leave are:

  • New postings and notices to employees who are affected by pregnancy.  Employers must post and give employees reasonable advance notice of the employee's right to seek reasonable accommodations and any requirement by the employer for medical certification.  The FEHC's Notice A, or its substantial equivalent, applies to employers with less than 50 employees; and Notice B, or its substantial equivalent, for employers with 50 or more employers.  

    Samples Notices are available by clicking here for Notice A and here for Notice B

       Click here to read more>

 


 

 April 2012

CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT LAW ALERT

CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT ISSUES LONG-AWAITED BRINKER DECISION ON MEAL AND REST PERIOD RULES THAT EMPLOYER MUST NOW FOLLOW

Background of the Brinker Litigation

The case began in 2004 when five non-exempt employees of Chili's claimed the restaurant illegally denied them meal and rest breaks.  The complaint was certified as a class action suit that was estimated to include approximately 60,000 current and former employees.  Brinker Restaurant Corp., the parent company of Chili's, appealed to the Court of Appeal the class certification order issued by the trial court.  Click here to read more>

 


 

January 2012

CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT LAW ALERT - FOLLOW UP

DIVISION OF LABOR STANDARDS ENFORCEMENT ("DLSE") FINALLY RELEASES EMPLOYEE NOTICE TEMPLATE FOR COMPLIANCE WITH CALIFORNIA'S NEW HIRE DISCLOSURE LAW

In Rynn & Janowsky, LLP's last Employment Law Alert, we provided a summary of the notice provisions in California's new Wage Theft Protection Act of 2011, which went into effect on January 1, 2012 under Labor Code sec. 2810.5. The notice does not apply to employees who are exempt from the payment of overtime wages by statute or the wage orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission.  Click here to read more >

 


January 2012

CALIFORNIA EMPLOYMENT LAW ALERT

TWO NEW LABOR CODE SECTIONS IMPACT EMPLOYERS AT START OF 2012

Effective January 1, 2012, a number of new empoyment laws take effect which will impact many of our clients, but there are two new Labor Code provisions that are bound to impact ALL California employers.  Click here to read more >

 


Summer 2010

CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT EXPANDS DEFINITIONS OF "EMPLOYER" FOR OVERTIME AND MINIMUM WAGE LAWSUITS

In its recent decision, Martinez v. Combs et al., the California Supreme Court expanded, and yet also limited, the universe of employers who will now have liability exposure for unpaid wages under Section 1164 of the California Labor Code.  The Court adopted the Industrial Welfare Commission's definition of employer as one who exercises control over the wages, hours, or working conditions of the employee, who suffers or permits the employee to work or who hires the employee.  Click here to read more >


2009 Update

NEW 2009 FEDERAL AND CALIFORNIA LAWS FOR EMPLOYERS AND COMPLIANCE TIPS

New Federal Laws

The American with Disabilities Amendment Act 

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 is extremely significant because it makes important changes to the way that the term "disability" is interpreted (including that the word shall be construed in favor of broad coverages), which will have a sweeping impact on employers, as follows:

  • Employers must determine whether an employee or job applicant's impairment "substantially limits" a major life activity (which is key in determining whether the impairment is a "disability") without considering corrective factors such as medication, hearing aids or cochlear implants, mobility equipment (a wheel-chair, for example) and prosthetic devices.  Click here to read more >


September 2005

UNANIMOUS CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT HOLDS THAT EMPLOYEE MAY SUE FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT WHEN SHE IS DENIED PROMOTION OVER EMPLOYEE THAT HAD CONSENSUAL AFFAIR WITH MANAGER

The Prison Warden Runs Amuck

Plaintiffs, Edna Miller and Frances Mackey, were two former employees at the Valley State Prison for Women.  Over a period of several ye rs, the prison's warden, Lewis Kuykendall, had sexual affairs with three subordinate employees.  There was evidence that the affairs began in 1991 and continued until 1998.  When Kuykendall transferred from one prison to work at another, he arranged for his sexual partners to be transferred to the new institution to join him.  A unanimous California Supreme Court, in Miller v. Department of Corrections (July 18, 2005), concluded that both Plaintiffs were the victims of sexual harassment and discrimination, because the consensual sexual affairs of the warden with at least three women employees (who were accorded widespread favoritism at the prison) created a hostile work environment.  Click here to read more >


November 2004

EMPLOYERS BEWARE: AMBIGUOUS SUPERVISORY COMMENTS AND "CODE WORDS" CAN CREATE HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIM

In its recent decision, McGinest v. GTE Corp., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that allegations of a racially hostile workplace must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable person belonging to plaintiff's racial group.  An African American employee sued GTE under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 alleging the employer created a racially hostile work environment and that his failure to receive a promotion was due to racial discrimination. Click here to read more >


December 2003

CALIFORNIA EMPLOYERS MUST CONFRONT WAGE AND HOUR ISSUES OR FACE FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCES

Wal-Mart Faces Multi-Million Dollar Class Action Lawsuits and California's Labor Commissioner Assesses Huge Fines Against Employers for Allegedly Violating Meal and Rest Period Laws

Meal Periods are Addressed in the Labor Code and IWC Orders

Lunch and other breaks will never be viewed the same by Wal-mart after two judges-one in Minnesota and the others in Califirnia - certified class action lawsuits in early November on behalf of nearly 200,000 Wal-mart employees.  According to these lawsuits, which ask for damages totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, Wal-mart employees are routinely asked or forced - due to understaffing - to shorten or forgo their lunch and restbreaks.  Several California employers are also reeling from citations that the California Labor Commissioner recently issued seeking substantial fines - some in excess of $500,00 - for alleged violations of California's meal and rest period laws.  What's going on?  It's not that difficult to comply with the lunch and restbreak laws.  Right?  Well, as with many laws, the "devil is in the details."  Click here to read more >


January 2003

CALIFORNIA EMPLOYERS ARE SURE TO HAVE A "HANG-OVER" AS THEY "RING-IN" THE NEW YEAR WITH NO SHORTAGE OF NEW EMPLOYMENT LAWS TO IMPLEMENT AT THE WORKPLACE

New Paid Family Leave

Paid Benefits to Employees: Provides disability compensation for any individual who cannot work due to the sickness or injury of a family member, or the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a new child.  The benefits are provided through additional employee contributions and not employer taxes or payments.

Key Provisions: (1) One week waiting period before workers can apply for the program; (2) Employers may mandate that employees use up to two weeks of unused vacation time before receiving paid leave; and (3) Payments are capped at six weeks over a 12 month period and a 55 percent of wages, up to an annually-adjusted maximum. 

Application to Employers with Less than 50 Employees:  All employees are eligible for benefits regardless of the size of the employer.  This law does not require small businesses with less than 50 employees to hold a job open for an employee on leave.  However, the new Sick Leave Conditions law discussed below steps into this void.  It forbids any California employer with at least one employee to take adverse action (including discipline and discharge) against an employee for a leave of absence due to the sickness or injury of a family member, or birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a new child.  Click here to read more >


November 2001

LAYOFF AND TERMINATION OF EMPLOYEES IN A RECESSION: HOW EMPLOYERS CAN MINIMIZE RISKS OF VIOLATING FEDERAL AND STATE DISCRMINATION LAWS

Implementing a "RIF"

Recent headlines in the newspapers abound with announcements from corporations about massive layoffs of employees in practically all sectors of the economy.  And while most economists predict the downward economy (or "recession") will not be long term, many employers, large and small, must simply cut labor costs to weather the storm, so to speak.  To minimize liability, an employer planning a reduction in force ("RIF") or corporate reorganization or downsizing should engage in a systematic review of its workforce composition and consider the steps outlined below. Click here to read more >

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