New California law mandates sexual harassment training for local officials

by Beth Kahn and Sigalit Shoghi
Morris Polich & Purdy LLP

Changes to California’s law requiring sexual harassment training for supervisory employees will go into effect on January 1, 2017, clearing up ambiguity about whether elected city officials are required to take sexual harassment prevention training and education courses already mandated for private-sector supervisors.

Assembly Bill 1661 requires that “local agency officials” (defined as any member of a local agency legislative body and any elected local agency official) receive sexual harassment prevention training and education if the local agency pays them any type of compensation, salary, or stipend.

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Stricter workplace smoking law taking effect in California

by Jim Brown
Sedgwick LLP

A new law expanding smoking restrictions in California workplaces is set to take effect on January 1.

State law previously restricted smoking in places of employment based on “enclosed space” areas. In addition to requiring signage, California Labor Code Section 6404.5 provided a list of exceptions or exemptions from the definition of “place of employment.”

The new law, Assembly Bill 7, amends Labor Code Section 6404.5 to, among other things, eliminate the specified exemptions from “place of employment” for hotel lobby and bar areas, taverns, banquet rooms, warehouse facilities, and employee break rooms. Before Assembly Bill 7, local jurisdictions could enact rules prohibiting smoking in those areas, but no statewide law required such a ban.

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States approve minimum wage, paid leave ballot questions

November 10, 2016 - by: Kate McGovern Tornone 0 COMMENTS

States with employment-related ballot questions mostly approved them during the November 8 election, and employers have little lead time before many measures will be implemented.

All told, 14 states have new provisions with which companies must comply, some as early as January 1, 2017.

Minimum wage

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Uber settlement keeps independent contractor business model

April 22, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Drivers for ride-hailing giant Uber will continue to be independent contractors under the terms of a settlement of class-action lawsuits in California and Massachusetts if the settlement receives court approval.

The settlement, announced on April 21, will require the company to pay drivers an initial $84 million and possibly as much as $100 million. Despite the financial hit, Uber is claiming victory in what it calls the key issue in the lawsuits—whether its drivers should be classified as independent contractors or employees. That question is likely to come up again, according to an attorney following developments affecting the use of independent contractors in the “sharing economy.”

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New York, California gearing up for $15 minimum wage

April 05, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

On April 4, the governors of New York and California signed measures that will culminate in a $15 minimum wage phased in over the next few years.

Champions of the minimum wage increases say they are important to providing workers a living wage, but foes in both states predict job losses and business failures.

New York and California became the first states to pass a $15 minimum wage, but several cities around the country already have laws putting them on the road to a $15 minimum. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

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Compulsory public-sector union dues survive deadlocked Supreme Court

March 29, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A 4-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a closely watched case on public-sector unions leaves previous legal precedent intact, effectively sealing a union victory.

On March 29, the evenly split Court issued a one-sentence ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association that allows the decision of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stand. If not for the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February, the ruling may have gone the other way.

“With Justice Scalia’s death, public-sector unions dodged not just a bullet but a cannonball,” Jeffrey Sloan, an attorney with Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP in San Francisco, said after the ruling was announced.

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Effort to push California minimum wage to $15 reported

March 28, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Most California employers will see the state’s minimum wage reach $15 an hour by 2022 if reports of a deal in the state legislature materialize as expected.

Reports in the Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento Bee on March 27 tell of a tentative deal between state lawmakers and union leaders that would phase in the wage hike. Currently, the state’s minimum wage stands at $10 an hour. (The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.) The outlets reported that businesses with fewer than 25 employees would have an extra year to reach the $15 level.

Mark I. Schickman, an attorney with Freeland Cooper & Foreman LLP in San Francisco, said the deal is extremely likely to pass the legislature and gain Governor Jerry Brown’s support. On March 28, the governor’s office issued a statement that Brown would join “a number of other leaders” to discuss the “landmark deal” to raise the state’s minimum wage. The Times reported that lawmakers could vote on the proposal within a couple of weeks.

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Time for California employers to be ready for $10 minimum wage

by Elizabeth J. Boca

The minimum wage in California will increase from $9 to $10 an hour as of January 1. Employers must understand that paying the higher minimum wage alone doesn’t satisfy their obligations because the upcoming increase will spark a domino effect in various compliance areas.  monimum wage increase ahead

Exempt “white-collar” employees. Each time the state minimum wage increases, so does the minimum salary required for exempt white-collar employees. Under Labor Code Section 515, to qualify as exempt from overtime as an executive, administrative, or professional employee, a worker must earn a monthly salary equivalent to at least two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment totaling 40 hours per week, or 2,080 hours per year.

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California school activities leave expansion starts January 1

by Cathleen S. Yonahara

California’s law allowing unpaid time off for employees to participate in their children’s school or daycare activities will be expanded effective January 1.

Current law requires employers with 25 or more employees to provide unpaid leave to employees who are a parent, guardian, or grandparent with custody of one or more children who are in kindergarten or grades 1 through 12 or are attending a licensed daycare facility. Employers must provide employees up to 40 hours of unpaid leave each year, not to exceed eight hours in a calendar month, to participate in school or daycare activities.

The new law expands the reasons for which employees can take leave to include (1) to find or enroll or reenroll their child in a school or with a licensed childcare provider and (2) to address a childcare provider or school emergency. “Childcare provider or school emergency” is broadly defined to mean that an employee’s child can’t remain in school or with a childcare provider because of one of the following reasons: read more…

New law removes ‘alien’ from California Labor Code

by Elizabeth J. Boca

A California law taking effect on January 1 removes the word “alien” from the state’s Labor Code. The new law deletes two sections of the Labor Code as a way of modernizing and removing negative connotations in the law.

In 1937, the California Legislature enacted various provisions regarding the employment of “aliens,” defined as any person who isn’t a born or fully naturalized citizen of the United States. The legislature also enacted a provision that prescribes an order for the issuance of employment under specific public-works contracts—first to citizens of California, second to citizens of other states of the United States, and third to aliens.

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