Updated Employment Laws for San Francisco Employers

Employers with employees performing work in San Francisco need to know of three changes to local employment laws that take effective July 1, 2020:

  • Minimum Wage Increases to $16.07
  • Paid Parental Leave Expands to 8 Weeks
  • Updated Required Posters

Generally speaking, San Francisco’s employment-related ordinances apply if an employee works 2 or more hours per week in San Francisco.

SF Minimum Wage: $16.07

The San Francisco minimum wage increases to $16.07 per hour on July 1, 2020. The minimum wage proposition approved by San Francisco voters in 2014 requires that on July 1, 2020, the minimum wage rate be adjusted based on the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index.

Paid Parental Leave: 8 Weeks

California expanded the Paid Family Leave program for Claim Effective Dates beginning on or after July 1, 2020. Under the expanded benefits, employees are entitled to 8 weeks of California Paid Family Leave for new child bonding. Employers are required to extend paid parental leave compensation from 6 weeks to 8 weeks as of July 1, 2020.

When a Covered Employee gets 8 weeks of Paid Family Leave benefits from the California Employment Development Department (EDD), that employee is also entitled to 8 weeks of San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance Supplemental Compensation from their employer.

Required San Francisco Posters

Employers covered by San Francisco labor laws must place up-to-date required posters at each workplace or job site in a location where employees can see the postings easily.

Current posters are available to print on the OLSE website.

Original article Robert E. Nuddleman

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Using this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. Using the Internet or this blog to communicate with the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted on this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employers and employees in a wide range of employment law matters. Much of our practice focuses on wage and hour issues, such as unpaid overtime, meal and rest break violations, designing or enforcing commission plans, and other wage-related claims. Mr. Nuddleman advises employers on how to avoid harassment and wrongful termination claims and represents employees who have been victims of unlawful discrimination, retaliation or harassment. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. helps employers develop good employment policies, helps employers and employees with disability accommodation issues and ensures employees are correctly paid wages owed.

Sexual Orientation and Transgender Status are Protected by Title VII

In the long fight for equality, the Supreme Court officially ruled that dismissing an employee for being homosexual or transgender violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 under Title VII. In 1964, Congress “outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”. The Supreme Court decision on June 15, 2020, concluded these cases are examples of discrimination based on sex; that sex is a “necessary and undisguised” factor in the employer’s decision.

So, what brought these cases to the Supreme Court?

In 2013, Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman was fired from R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes. Mrs. Stephens was a recently promoted employee in good-standing. In 2013, she announced to family, friends, and co-workers she was starting treatment to transition into a woman. She informed her colleagues she will return to work dressed accordingly. Three days after the announcement, her employer fired her. In response, Mrs. Stephens sued under Title VII, alleging unlawful discrimination based on sex. The Sixth Circuit concluded that Title VII does not allow an employer to fire an employee because the individual is transgender. In Mrs. Stephens case, there was no question her transition was the reason for her termination. Her former boss testified in court that because Mrs. Stephens was “no longer going to present himself as a man”, they felt her relationship with the company would no longer work. Sadly, Mrs. Stephens died at age 59 in May of 2020 due to kidney failure. Her heirs did not let this end her fight for equal rights.

In a companion case, skydiving instructor Donald Zarda was fired after mentioning to a customer that Zarda was gay. Despite sever several years of employment with Altitude Express the company fired Mr. Zarda the following day. This happened in 2010. Mr. Zarda timely sued for discrimination but passed away in 2014 in a BASE-jumping accident.

Bostock v. Clayton County is the case most heavily associated with the Supreme Court’s decision. Gerald Bostock was a child welfare advocate in Clayton County Georgia. Mr. Bostock was a stellar employee for over a decade, having received national awards for his work. In his spare time, Mr. Bostock joined a gay recreational softball league. Members of his community made derogatory commentary regarding Mr. Bostock’s sexual orientation. His boss fired him for “conduct ‘unbecoming’ of a county employee”. Mr. Bostock sued, and the Eleventh Circuit concluded that Title VII does not prohibit employers from firing employees for sexual orientation.

Although Title VII does not specifically mention “sexual orientation,” “homosexuality” or “transgender status,” the court made clear that treating someone differently because of their sexual orientation or transgender status is a form of sex discrimination:

We agree that homosexuality and transgender status are distinct concepts from sex. But, as we’ve seen, discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex; the first cannot happen without the second.

Think of it this way, if you fire a man because he wears a dress but won’t fire a woman because she wears a dress, that is treating someone differently “because of” his sex. If you discriminate against men who have romantic relationships with men, but don’t discriminate against women who have romantic relationships with men, you are discriminating against the person “based on sex.”

The origins and the individuals involved is a huge part of understanding why Title VII needed to be articulated. For many people, the ruling was shocking. For others, it was a long-waited landmark. Discrimination costs people their livelihood and puts their future at risk. Although some of these incidents took a decade to resolve, the Supreme Court’s decision and their stories help employees and employers recognize that every individual has the right to be treated equally in the workplace.

We anticipate the ripple effects in several areas of our society. hopefully, we will see positive changes in the workplace, but there is speculation regarding how religious-affiliated schools or workplaces will respond or what decisions will be needed. For now, many will celebrate this decision as a win for LGBTQ+ individuals and communities.

If you haven’t read the opinion, you can read it here. I highly recommend reading it. I think the decision was well-written, and tackles many of the arguments raised when trying to justify differential treatment. Ultimately, the arguments do not withstand judicial scrutiny.

Original article by Hannah Grossen, Legal Assistant. Edited by Robert E. Nuddleman

Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law. We cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice over the Internet. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

Using this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. Using the Internet or this blog to communicate with the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential or time-sensitive information in this blog. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted on this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employers and employees in a wide range of employment law matters. Much of our practice focuses on wage and hour issues, such as unpaid overtime, meal and rest break violations, designing or enforcing commission plans, and other wage-related claims. Mr. Nuddleman advises employers on how to avoid harassment and wrongful termination claims and represents employees who have been victims of unlawful discrimination, retaliation or harassment. The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. helps employers develop good employment policies, helps employers and employees with disability accommodation issues and ensures employees are correctly paid wages owed.

Fight for Equality

In the wake of the terrible abuse of power and murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests coupled with rioters taking advantage of the situation, I wasn’t sure how or whether to respond publicly. I don’t view myself as having a huge public reach, and typically prefer to keep my blog posts focused on employment law.

The disregard for Mr. Floyd’s life hurt my heart. The gathering together of communities in opposition to the police and the system that allowed this crime, and other similar crimes, provided hope. The destruction of property and theft of items by persons taking advantage of the pain suffered by Mr. Floyd, his family, and the community angered me. At the same time, I didn’t know that I could or should express my opinion. What did I have to offer in the public debate?

I’ve had, and continue to have, conversations with my family and close friends about the inequality in treatment between races and genders. We discuss the historical context and various contributing factors. We examine it from an economic and sociological perspective. We argue over whether it is acceptable to fight prejudice with prejudice or whether it is better to lead by example. We discuss the extent to which the media (including social media) influences and shapes public opinion, and the scope of our obligation to help shape that opinion. We talk about what we do and can do to provide opportunities to equalize the inequities.

I’ve used my passion and logic to influence my personal sphere of influence, but I wasn’t sure (and am still not entirely certain) on what else I can do to further justice and equality in a more public way. I am a Caucasian male, raised in a predominantly Caucasian community. Most of my family immigrated to the United States generations before I was born. Although I experienced some anti-semitism growing up, it was never at the hands of the government. My fears of the police were the result of my actions, not the color of my skin or the actions of others for whom I share a skin tone. I can imagine the experiences of people who face racial inequality and prejudice, but I can never really know their experience.

I’ve known excellent police officers and other government officials who I believe do their job to further justice and equality. I don’t know that I have ever met anyone who was completely unbiased. I don’t even know if that is possible. Many people are aware of their biases, or at least acknowledge that they likely have unconscious biases, that filter their perspectives. Many people are not aware of their biases and don’t believe they are biased. Some people are out and out bigots. So, again, what do I have to contribute to the public debate?

Then I thought about what I do on a daily basis. I am an employment attorney. For more than 20 years I have advised and represented individuals who were treated differently based on the color of their skin, their religion, their gender, their sexual orientation, their disabilities, and other protected characteristics. I educate employers on how to recognize, root out, and rectify unlawful harassment and discrimination. I create policies and procedures for employers so they can minimize the chance that conscious or unconscious biases will impact the workplace.

Few employment attorneys represent employers and employees. I have always represented both sides. I think it helps me understand the perspectives of the opposing side. It certainly helps me discuss and explain the complexities of employment law with my clients. By representing both sides, am I failing to take a side?

No. I fight for equality. I prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring in the first place by advising employers on how to ensure a harassment-free workplace. I represent employees who are victims of discrimination and harassment. In many ways, I get the best of both worlds.

This is not a solicitation for your business. I am not including my normal bottom-of-post message about my practice. This is just my heartfelt statement about the tragedy experienced by Mr. Floyd and his family, and my role in changing public action. I will continue to fight for equality in the workplace and in the community. I will continue to examine how I can further the struggle of my fellow humans.

Robert E. Nuddleman