New Sexual Harassment Protection for Legislative Staff

AB403 Protects Legislative Staff from Sexual Harassment Retaliation

Employers cannot retaliate against employees for engaging in protected activity. This includes reporting or participating in an investigation regarding sexual harassment, health and safety issues, patient safety, and other violations of the law. Governor Brown signed AB403 extending similar protections to legislative employees. I suspect AB403 found so much support due to the numerous reports of inappropriate conduct in our legislature.

AB403 defines “Legislative employee” as “an individual, other than a Member of either house of the Legislature, who is, or has been, employed by either house of the Legislature. ‘Legislative employee’ includes volunteers, interns, fellows, and applicants.” Legislative employees are protected from retaliation when making a protected disclosure.

“Protected disclosure” means a “communication by a legislative employee that is made in good faith alleging that a Member of the Legislature or legislative employee engaged in, or will engage in, activity that may constitute a violation of any law, including sexual harassment, or of a legislative code of conduct.” This includes a complaint protected by California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

The protected disclosure can be made to a number of agencies or any “individual with authority over the legislative employee, or another legislative employee who has authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance.”

So, an intern or volunteer can report concerns regarding inappropriate sexual harassment to his or her supervisor without fear of unlawful retaliation. The law is so important that it became effective when Governor Brown signed the bill on February 5, 2018.

AB403 has some unique features. Violators can be subject to $10,000 fine and imprisonment for up to a year. If the alleged victim brings a civil action and proves “by a preponderance of the evidence” t against a legislative employee,” the burden of proof then switches the allegedly offending party to demonstrate “by clear and convincing evidence that the alleged action would have occurred for legitimate, independent reasons even if the legislative employee had not made a protected disclosure.” A prevailing plaintiff can recover attorneys’ fees and punitive damages. Considering most claims against government entities and persons do not allow punitive damages, this last item is particularly significant.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

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 to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Handbook Updates for 2018

California passed a number of new laws that take effect 2018. Here are a few employee handbook updates employers will need to make:

Employment Handbook Updates for 2018

Parental Leave Act

California’s New Parent Leave Act requires employers with 20 to 49 employees to provide unpaid, job-protected leave for purposes of bonding with a new child. This is similar to FMLA and CFRA, with some important differences. Employers may want to adjust their vacation policies to address the new leave act and Employers with 50 or more employees may need to adjust their FMLA/CFRA policies.

New IRS Mileage Rate

Employers must reimburse employees for all expenses incurred in the discharge of their duties. This includes mileage reimbursement. The simplest method is to pay the IRS mileage rate. January 1, 2018, the IRS mileage reimbursement rate increases to 54.5 cents. If you state a specific rate in your policies–rather than just referring to the IRS mileage rate–you’ll want to update your policy.

Lactation Accommodation

Now that lactation accommodations are part of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, and can constitute a type of gender discrimination, it is important to review your lactation accommodation policies. Employers may need to update policies to address differences between California and federal law.

Paid Family Leave

Paid Family Leave is available to some employees. Although not a “protected” leave of absence, employers must provide information regarding Paid Family Leave to all employees. A change to California law eliminates the seven-day waiting period before PFL benefits begin. This change should be noted in the handbook.

Hiring Practices

Two new laws change how employers interview and hire employees:

San Francisco Specific Changes

Three of the more notable changes to San Francisco’s laws will require handbook updates:

  • The City and County Paid Parental Leave Ordinance.
  • San Francisco Lactation Accommodation Ordinance
  • San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance has changed, allowing more flexibility for employers.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

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 to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Happy Holidays and Predictions for 2018

Happy Holidays

Before I get into my employment law predictions for 2018, let me thank my friends, family, colleagues and clients. You’ve helped make 2017 so successful. I am so grateful and blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life. Practicing law gives me the opportunity to help others and change their lives for the better. I enjoy what I do, and I like helping my clients with their employment law issues.

Here are just a few of the highlights and milestones for me in 2017:

  • I, along with my co-counsel Patrick Kitchin, obtained a seven figure settlement on behalf of a class of hair stylists in the Bay Area.
  • I hiked the mountains in New Mexico at the Philmont Scout Ranch with my two sons and three other Boy Scouts.
  • I began bicycling and jogging, increasing my cardiovascular health so I can almost keep up with my three teenage children.
  • I celebrated 19 years of marriage to my beautiful wife.
  • I conducted several presentations regarding employment laws, with a specific emphasis on home care workers, including presentations to the Professional Fiduciary Association of California, the East Bay and the Golden Gate Enrolled Agents Associations, the California Society of CPAs and the Special Needs Symposium.

Thank you and may your holiday season be filled with warmth and love, and may you experience a prosperous 2018.

Rob’s Employment Law Predictions for 2018

A client asked about my 2018 employment law predictions.

There is a significant push toward more transparency in the workplace. Laws prohibiting employers from asking about prior salaries combined with protections for employees who discuss salaries with co-workers will make it more difficult for employers to justify pay differentials. I predict that more discussions about pay will result in more litigation regarding pay practices in 2018.

The media has recently focused on sexual harassment in Hollywood and politics. The increased media hopefully opens the door for more discussions about appropriate workplace conduct. I predict we will see an increase in sexual harassment claims in 2018. I also predict employers will take greater steps to ensure their workplace is free of unlawful harassment, including training managers and supervisors how to respond to complaints. Recent changes in the law regarding what must be included in mandatory sexual harassment prevention training will also increase the dialogue regarding treating persons with dignity and respect regardless of their gender or lifestyle.

I predict employers will struggle with proper hiring techniques. Beginning 2018, employers cannot ask about prior salaries and cannot ask about convictions until after the employer extends a conditional offer of employment [not true for all employers]. Many employers don’t know about the changes. Those employers may be targeted for individual or class actions for inappropriate questions during the hiring process.

I predict wage and hour lawsuits will continue to increase in 2018. We will see more class actions and PAGA claims. Now that PAGA actions are not subject to arbitration, means more plaintiffs attorneys will use PAGA claims to avoid arbitration. Additionally, recent cases expanded the scope of discovery in PAGA actions. Plaintiffs attorneys now have more tools to obtain information during litigation.

Those are my predictions for employment law related problems in 2018. We’ll have to wait and see whether my predictions come true.

If you have questions about employment laws, feel free to contact me in the New Year. I work with employees and employers to resolve workplace disputes.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

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 to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

 

 

Ban the Box Goes Statewide

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in “ban the box” legislation. Ban the box refers to employers forcing applicants to divulge information about criminal convictions before the employer even considers the applicant. Governor Brown recently signed legislation prohibiting employers from asking about criminal convictions before the employer makes an employment offer.

Why is Ban the Box Important?

According to AB 1008, “Roughly seven million Californians, or nearly one in three adults, have an arrest or conviction record that can significantly undermine their efforts to obtain gainful employment.” AB 1008 emphasizes the importance of employment in reducing recidivism, and the impact a job can have on formerly incarcerated persons and their families. The bill also cites experts who claim “that people with conviction records have lower rates of turnover and higher rates of promotion on the job.”

The EEOC previously determined that a blanket rule against hiring persons with criminal convictions has an adverse impact on persons of color.

Other Ban the Box Legislation

In 2013, the State of California passed a Ban the Box law passed that only applied to certain public employers. That same year five states have adopted fair chance hiring laws covering private employers. In 2015, President Obama directed all federal agencies to Ban the Box and refrain from asking applicants about their convictions on the initial job application.

Since then, 29 states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted a Ban the Box law. Over 300 companies have signed the White House Fair Chance hiring pledge. Nine states and 15 major cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, adopted fair chance hiring laws that cover both public and private sector employers. Over 20 percent of the United States population now lives in a state or locality that prohibits private employers from inquiring into an applicant’s record at the start of the hiring process.

California’s Ban the Box Law

Effective January 1, 2018, it is an unlawful employment practice for private employers with 5 or more employees “To include on any application for employment, before the employer makes a conditional offer of employment to the applicant, any question that seeks the disclosure of an applicant’s conviction history.”

Employers may not “inquire into or consider the conviction history of the applicant” until after the employer makes a conditional offer of employment.

Employers cannot “consider, distribute, or disseminate information” about arrests that did not result in a conviction, referral or participation in a diversion program, or “convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated pursuant to law.”

What can an employer do? After making a conditional offer of employment, employers can conduct background checks. If the background check reveals a conviction, the employer can “make an individualized assessment of whether the applicant’s conviction history has a direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job that justify denying the applicant the position.” In making the assessment, the employer must consider all of the following:

  1. The nature and gravity of the offense or conduct.
  2. The time that has passed since the offense or conduct and completion of the sentence.
  3. The nature of the job held or sought.

The employer can, but does not have to, “commit the results of this individualized assessment to writing.” It will be easy enough to create a criminal conviction consideration form for employers to use in their assessment.

What if the Employer Decides Not to Hire?

If the employer decides not to hire the applicant based on the criminal history, the employer must “notify the applicant of this preliminary decision in writing.” The notification must contain all of the following:

  1. Notice of the disqualifying conviction or convictions that are the basis for the preliminary decision to rescind the offer.
  2. A copy of the conviction history report, if any.
  3. An explanation of the applicant’s right to respond to the notice of the employer’s preliminary decision before that decision becomes final and the deadline by which to respond.

The explanation must also advise the applicant that the applicant’s response can include evidence challenging the accuracy of the conviction history report. The applicant then has 5 days to respond to the notice. If the applicant notifies the employer in writing that the applicant disputes the accuracy of the conviction history report, then applicant gets an additional 5 business days to respond to the notice.

The employer has to consider the information submitted by the applicant before making a final decision. If the employer ultimately denies employment because of the applicant’s conviction history (even if that is only part of the reason), the employer must notify the applicant in writing of all the following:

  1. The final denial or disqualification. The employer may, but is not required to, justify or explain the employer’s reasoning for making the final denial or disqualification.
  2. Any existing procedure the employer has for the applicant to challenge the decision or request reconsideration.
  3. The right to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Exceptions to California’s Ban the Box Law

California’s Ban the Box law does not apply in any of the following positions:

  1. When a state or local agency is otherwise required by law to conduct a conviction history background check.
  2. Criminal justice agency positions under Penal Code Section 13101.
  3. Farm Labor Contractors under Labor Code Section 1685.
  4. Where an employer or agent thereof is required by any state, federal, or local law to conduct criminal background checks for employment purposes or to restrict employment based on criminal history.

The latter category could include:

  • Home Care Organizations hiring home care aides;
  • Childcare and Education services such as daycare workers, school staff
  • Healthcare such as  nurses, doctors
  • Financial Services such as financial advisors, credit experts
  • Government Workers such as police officers, mayors
  • Some Information and Technology such as systems managers, computer analysts, that have access to private information.

Employers will need to rethink and modify their hiring practices and employment applications. The new law impacts every employer with more than 5 employees.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

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 to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

 

 

Don’t Ask About Employee Salaries

Beginning January 1, 2018, employers cannot ask about employee salaries. Governor Brown signed AB-168, prohibiting employers from asking applicants about their prior compensation. Over the last few years, California strengthened its gender and racial equality laws. Part of that shift includes forces employers away from compensation history as a basis for determining current pay.

New Rules for Employee Salaries

Under newly enacted Labor Code 432.3:

  • Employers cannot rely on past employee salaries to determine eligibility for employment or what salary to offer.
  • Employers cannot directly or indirectly “seek salary history information, including compensation and benefits, about an applicant for employment.”
  • If asked, employers must provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant applying for employment.

The law applies to “all employers, including state and local government employers and the Legislature.” Employees are free to disclose their past salary information. If an applicant “voluntarily and without prompting discloses” salary history information to a prospective employer, the employer can consider the information in determining the salary for that applicant.

I suspect we will see some lawsuits around whether an applicant “voluntarily and without prompting” disclosed employee salaries or if an employer “silently coerced” the disclosure.

Employers can take some solace because a violation of the new employee salaries law is not misdemeanor like other similar provisions in the Labor Code.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

Suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, contact an attorney.

Your use of this blog creates no attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm establishes no attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Berkeley, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

 

New Employment Laws for 2017

Once again the California Legislature has been hard at work passing new employment laws. The following is the “final” list of bills signed by the governor. All bills will take effect on January 1, 2018, unless otherwise specified in the bill.

Many of the bills are only applicable to specific industries. Others apply to all employers in California. With so many new bills, I can’t write an in depth analysis of all 84 bills. I will do my best over the upcoming weeks to discuss those bills that will impact the majority of employers in California–and those I find most interesting. For now, you just get the list with a link so you can read the bill yourself.

New Employment Laws for 2017

  • AB 20  – Public employee retirement systems: divestment: Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • AB 31  – Whistleblowers: California State Auditor.
  • AB 46  – Employers: wage discrimination.
  • AB 55  – Hazardous materials management: stationary sources.
  • AB 83  – Collective bargaining: Judicial Council.
  • AB 168  (D-Stockton) Employers: salary information.
  • AB 199  – Public works: private residential projects.
  • AB 226  – Teacher credentialing: spouses of active duty members of the Armed Forces: expedited application process.
  • AB 260  – Human trafficking.
  • AB 317  – Napa County: farmworker housing.
  • AB 326  – Public works: prevailing wage rates: wage and penalty assessments.
  • AB 415  – CalFresh: employment social enterprises.
  • AB 450  – Employment regulation: immigration worksite enforcement actions.
  • AB 491  – California Civil Liberties Public Education Act.
  • AB 500  – Employee codes of conduct: employee interactions with pupils.
  • AB 512  – Public employees’ retirement: safety members: industrial disability retirement.
  • AB 563  – CalFresh Employment and Training program.
  • AB 579  – Apprenticeship: fire protection: firefighter pre-apprenticeship program.
  • AB 581  – Apprenticeships on public works projects.
  • AB 618  – Local Agency Public Construction Act: job order contracting: school districts: community college districts.
  • SB 658  – Jury selection.
  • AB 670  – Classified employees: part-time playground positions.
  • AB 699  – Educational equity: immigration and citizenship status.
  • AB 736  – State teachers’ retirement: executive positions.
  • AB 828  – Civil actions: fee recovery.
  • AB 848  – Public contracts: University of California: California State University: domestic workers.
  • AB 851  – Local agency contracts.
  • AB 978  – Financial institutions: Iran sanctions.
  • AB 1008  – Employment discrimination: conviction history.
  • AB 1066  – Agricultural workers: wages, hours, and working conditions.
  • AB 1102  – Health facilities: whistleblower protections.
  • AB 1111  – Removing Barriers to Employment Act: Breaking Barriers to Employment Initiative.
  • AB 1149  – Workforce investment boards: funding.
  • AB 1221  – Alcoholic beverage control: Responsible Beverage Service Training Program Act of 2017.
  •  AB 1222  – Vehicles: electronic wireless communications devices.
  • AB 1223  – Construction contract payments: Internet Web site posting.
  • AB 1243  – Public Employees’ Retirement System: replacement benefits plan.
  • AB 1325  – State teachers’ retirement.
  • AB 1424  – University of California: Best Value Construction Contracting Program.
  • AB 1455  – The California Public Records Act: exemptions.
  • AB 1687  – Customer records: age information: commercial online entertainment employment service providers.
  • AB 1692  – County employees’ retirement: Contra Costa County.
  • AB 1701  – Labor-related liabilities: original contractor. With a signing message.
  • AB 1710  – Prohibited discrimination against service members.
  • AB 1840  – State agencies: interns and student assistants: hiring preference.
  • AB 1875  – State teachers’ retirement: option beneficiaries: trusts.
  • AB 1918  – Teacher credentialing: temporary certificates.
  • AB 2025  – Barbering and cosmetology: labor law education requirements.
  • AB 2036  – Online child care job posting services: background check service providers: enforcement.
  • AB 2105  – Workforce development: allied health professions.
  • AB 2230  – Overtime compensation: private elementary or secondary academic institutions: teachers.
  • AB 2296  – Digital signatures (applicable to DFEH online right-to-sue requests).
  • AB 2337  – Employment protections: victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
  • AB 2375  – Public Employees’ Retirement System: omnibus bill.
  • AB 2376   – County employees’ retirement: Los Angeles County.
  • AB 2899  – Minimum wage violations: challenges.
  • SB 24  – California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013: joint powers authority: employees.
  • SB 31  – California Religious Freedom Act: state agencies: disclosure of religious affiliation information.
  • SB 33  – Arbitration agreements.
  • SB 63  – Unlawful employment practice: parental leave.
  • SB 112  – State government.
  • SB 156  – Military and veterans: transition assistance: citizenship.
  • SB 179  – Gender identity: female, male, or nonbinary.
  • SB 201  – Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act: employees.
  • SB 225 – Human trafficking: notice.
  • SB 258 – Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017.
  • SB 266 – Armed service members: consumer loans.
  • SB 282 – CalFresh and CalWORKs.
  • SB 285 – Public employers: union organizing.
  • SB 295 – Farm labor contractors: sexual harassment prevention.
  • SB 306  – Retaliation actions: complaints: administrative review.
  • SB 310  – Name and gender change: prisons and county jails.
  • SB 334  – Enhanced industrial disability leave.
  • SB 396  – Employment: gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
  • SB 418  – Public contracts: skilled and trained workforce.
  • SB 490  – Wages: Barbering and Cosmetology Act: licensees.
  • SB 514   – California Health Benefit Exchange.
  • SB 597  – Human trafficking: victim confidentiality.
  • SB 728  – State public employees: sick leave: veterans with service-related disabilities.
  • SB 731  – Public school employees: former or current members of the Armed Forces of the United States or California National Guard: leave of absence for illness or injury.
  • SB 776  – Corrections: veterans’ benefits.
  • SB 1015  – Domestic work employees: labor standards.
  • SB 1241  – Employment contracts: adjudication: choice of law and forum.
  • SB 1353  – State Teachers’ Retirement System: funding.

A special Thank You goes out to Phyllis Cheng for her tireless work throughout the year putting together notices of the new employment laws and the cases interpreting the laws. She does a great job and I truly appreciate her work on behalf of the State Bar of California’s Labor and Employment Section.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

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 to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

 

Retaliation Claims Get Stronger

Governor Brown just signed SB-306, which significantly strengthens retaliation claims. Employers cannot discharge, discriminate, retaliate, or take adverse action against employees because they engaged in specified protected conduct. Aggrieved employees can seek reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits. Employees can file claims with the Labor Commissioner or pursue a case in court.

Retaliation Claims by Labor Commissioner

Under amdned Labor Code 98.7, the Labor Commissioner can pursue retaliation claims even if no one complains.

The division may, with or without receiving a complaint, commence investigating an employer, in accordance with this section, that it suspects to have discharged or otherwise discriminated against an individual in violation of any law under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner.

The Labor Commissioner can petition the court for injunctive relief, including reinstatement. The court must order injunctive relief if “reasonable cause exists to believe that an employee has been discharged or subjected to adverse action for raising a claim of retaliation or asserting rights under any law under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner.” The court must consider the “chilling effect” on other employees when determining the appropriate injunctive relief.

An employer that refuses to comply with the injunctive relief can be fined “one hundred dollars ($100) per day for each day the employer continues to be in noncompliance with the court order, up to a maximum of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000)

Retaliation Claim Process

New Labor Code section 98.74 describes specific timelines and processes for retaliations claims by the Labor Commissioner. The Labor Commissioner issues a citation in writing, describing the nature of the violation and the amount of wages and penalties due. The citation must also include any and all appropriate relief, such as cease and desist orders, rehiring or reinstatement, reimbursement of lost wages and interest thereon, and posting notices to employees.

Employers have 30 days to request  hearing, or the citation becomes final. The hearing must proceed within 90 days. There is no mechanism for conducting discovery before the hearing, and no limit on how short or how long a hearing can last. The decision must be issued within 90 days of the conclusion of the hearing. The decision must contain a statement of findings, conclusions of law, and an order.

Employers dissatisfied with the results can file a writ of mandate with the superior court within 45 days. Employers must also obtain a bond “equal to the total amount of any minimum wages, liquidated damages, and overtime compensation” owed.  The bond does not have to include penalties. The order becomes final when no writ is filed.

Employers refusing to comply with a final order are subject to penalties of $100 per day per employee, up to $20,000. The affected employees receive the penalties.

Retaliation Claims by Employees

SB-306 allows employees bringing retaliation claims to include requests for injunctive relief. Courts are directed to issue injunctive relief (i.e., reinstatement) when “reasonable cause exists to believe a violation has occurred.”

The court is must consider the “chilling effect” on other employees.

The new law will go into effect January 1, 2018. You can read the full text of the bill here.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

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.

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of 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 to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties

Berkeley Minimum Wage Increase

Berkeley Minimum Wage Increase

Minimum wage increases are all the rage. Berkeley, CA is no exception.  Effective October 1, 2017, Berkeley minimum wage increases to $13.75 per hour (from $12.53). It will increase again on October 1, 2018 to $15.00 per hour, and continue to increase each year. Because Berkeley has a higher minimum wage rate than the one set by California or the Federal government, the higher local minimum wage rate takes precedence and must be paid to all employees covered by the local minimum wage regulation. Berkeley’s minimum wage ordinance applies to any employee who “In a calendar week performs at least two (2) hours of work for an Employer within the geographic boundaries of the City.”

Employers must post the Berkeley Minimum Wage Poster, which you can download here. The same poster talks about Berkeley’s new Paid Sick Leave Ordinance and Berkeley’s Family Friendly and Environment Friendly Workplace Ordinance.

Berkeley Paid Sick Leave

In addition to the Berkeley minimum wage increase, Berkeley also has its own Paid Sick Leave Ordinance the becomes effective October 1st. The Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (PSL) requires all employees earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. “Small Business” employers with fewer than 25 employees may cap an employee’s accrued paid sick leave at 48 hours and may cap the use of paid sick leave to 48 hours per year. Employers with 25 or more employees may cap an employee’s accrual of paid sick leave at 72 hours, but may not cap how much paid sick leave an employee uses in a calendar year. All Employers, regardless of where they are located, must provide paid sick leave to their Employees who perform at least 2 hours of work per week within the geographic limits of the City of Berkeley.

Berkeley Family Friendly and Environment Friendly Workplace Ordinance

The Family Friendly ordinance provides each employee the right to ask for a flexible or predictable work schedule. Employers must respond in writing within 21 days to any written request. The ordinance applies to employers who regularly employs 10 or more employees working in the City. Covered employers include the City but not any other federal, state, or local government entities. It applies to employees who regularly work at least 8 hours per week in Berkeley, and have worked for the same employer for at least three months. Eligible employees can request a flexible or predictable working arrangement.

A “Predictable Working Arrangement” means “a change in an Employee’s terms and conditions of employment that provides a consistent or reliable pattern of work assignment, including but not limited to days scheduled to work, start time and end time and work site location with at least seven (7) calendar days’ notice prior to the start of the scheduled shift.”

A “flexible working arrangement” means a change in an employee’s terms and conditions of employment that provides flexibility. Employees may request changes such as:

  • Modified work schedules.
  • Changes in start/end times for work.
  • Part-time employment.
  • Job-sharing arrangements.
  • Working from home.
  • Telecommuting.
  • Reduction or change in work duties.
  • Part-year employment.

Employees must request the changes in writing. Employers must respond to the request within 21 days.

As is common for local ordinances, employers cannot retaliate against employees under any of the new ordinances. If you work in Berkeley, or have employees working at least 2 hours per week in Berkeley, become familiar with these new laws.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

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 to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

New San Francisco Employment Laws

San Francisco tends to be on the forefront of passing new employment laws to protect San Francisco workers. The following are two new San Francisco Employment Laws that companies and workers in San Francisco need to consider.

New San Francisco Employment Laws No. 1:

Mayor Lee signed the “Lactation in the Workplace Ordinance” on July 30, 2017.  This “first of its kind in the country” ordinance establishes new standards to ensure employers accommodate lactation.

The ordinance amends the Police Code to require employers to provide employees lactation breaks and a location for lactation. Employers must have a policy regarding lactation in the workplace that specifies a process “by which an employee will make a request for accommodation.” The ordinance defines minimum standards for lactation accommodation spaces and requires that tenant improvements or renovated in buildings designated for certain uses include lactation rooms. The ordinance also outlines lactation accommodation best practices.

The ordinance becomes operative on January 1, 2018. 

You can review the full ordinance here.

New San Francisco Employment Laws No. 2:

On July 14, 2017, Mayor Lee signed the “Employer Consideration of Applicant’s Salary History Ordinance,” also known as the “Consideration of Salary History Ordinance“.  This ordinance (which also becomes operative on July 1, 2018, applies to employers in San Francisco and to the City and County of San Francisco’s contractors and subcontractors. The intention is to “ensure that an individual’s prior earnings, which may reflect widespread, longstanding, gender-based wage disparities in the labor market, do not continue to weigh down a woman’s salary throughout her career.”

The ordinance amends the Police and Administrative Codes and ban employers from considering current or past salary of an applicant in determining whether to hire an applicant or what salary to offer the applicant. The ordinance prohibits employers from asking applicants about their current or past salary. Employers cannot disclose employee salary history without that authorization (unless the salary history is publicly available).

You can review the full ordinance here.

You can review some of my prior articles about some of the San Francisco Employment Laws passed over the years:

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

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

Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.

Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Increases

As you get ready to celebrate the 4th of July, don’t forget that a number of local minimum wage increases across California will take effect July 1, 2017. Eligibility rules may vary among the locations listed below. Employers should review the individual city ordinances and follow posting requirements. Employee handbooks and policies, as well as new posters, may need updating.

The following cities and counties will increase their minimum wage July 1:

  • Emeryville: $15.20 an hour for businesses with 56 or more employees; $14 an hour for businesses with 55 or fewer employees.
  • City of Los Angeles: $12 an hour for employers with 26 or more employees; $10.50 an hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.
  • Los Angeles County (unincorporated areas only): $12 an hour for employers with 26 or more employees; $10.50 an hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.
  • Malibu: $12 an hour for employers with 26 or more employees; $10.50 an hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.
  • Milpitas: $11 an hour
  • Pasadena: $12 an hour for employers with 26 or more employees; $10.50 an hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.
  • San Francisco: $14 an hour.
  • San Jose: $12 an hour.
  • San Leandro: $12 an hour
  • Santa Monica: $12 an hour for employers with 26 or more employees; $10.50 an hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.

The Economic Policy Institute has a very good, up to date, interactive website regarding minimum wage laws in California and around the United States.

Local leave law updates

Over the last several years, California and several cities and counties have implemented mandator paid sick leave laws. The City of Los Angeles’ Paid Sick Leave Ordinance now applies to all employers. Employers with 25 or fewer employees must provide increased accrual benefits (48 hours annually for use/72 hours for total accrual cap) for sick leave benefits July 1, 2017.

San Francisco’s Paid Parental Leave Ordinance was passed with a phased-in implementation. Employers with 35 or more employees must begin complying as of July 1, 2017.

Fox Rothschild has a very good table summary of the various paid sick leave laws in California. It was last updated in September 2016, so there may be additional changes.

Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.

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 to this blog.

The Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C. represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Pleasanton, Oakland, San Ramon, Hayward, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.