California getting tough law on gender wage gap

October 07, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Employers in California will have to comply with what’s being called the strongest equal pay law in the nation when it takes effect on January 1, 2016.

Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., signed the California Fair Pay Act, Senate Bill 358, on October 6. A statement from the governor’s office says current law prohibits employers from paying a woman less than a man when they both perform equal work at the same establishment, but the new law will require equal pay regardless of gender for “substantially similar work.” The new law also will prohibit retaliation against employees who invoke the law and will protect employees who discuss wages.

The new law differs from current law in two key ways, according to Mark I. Schickman, an attorney with Freeland Cooper & Foreman LLP in San Francisco. First, it requires employers to understand not only what the “same job” is but also what “comparable jobs” are. “That’s very different,” Schickman said. Plus, the law doesn’t provide employers guidance on how to figure that out. The second key difference is that the new law puts the burden of proof on the employer to justify differences in wages.

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Uber class action ruling expected to have national implications

September 02, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A San Francisco judge’s ruling granting class action status to possibly thousands of Uber drivers carries implications that “go well beyond California,” according to an attorney closely watching the case.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen ruled September 1 that a group of Uber drivers in California can sue as a class as they argue that they should be considered employees instead of independent contractors.

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Changes to California Family Rights Act regulations take effect July 1

by Marc A. Koonin, Sedgwick LLP

Updated regulations for the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) take effect July 1. The new regulations represent the first significant revisions to the CFRA in 20 years and include a number of changes, many of which are designed to bring the regulations into greater conformity with their federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) counterparts.

Although there was a rough parity between the implementing rules for the CFRA and the FMLA rules for many years, coordinating them became increasingly difficult with the adoption and implementation of new FMLA regulations effective January 16, 2009, March 8, 2013, and March 27, 2015, as well as the modification of the CFRA in 2011.

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San Francisco Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights to be implemented July 1

by Mark I. Schickman

San Francisco’s new Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights is set to be implemented July 1, meaning many retail employers will have new obligations that go beyond areas that have previously been regulated.

The new law covers any retail establishment with 20 or more workers that shares a “formula” with at least 20 locations. A “formula” means the establishments have common signage or merchandise or design or trademark. Coverage goes beyond retail goods and includes banks, hotels, theaters, restaurants, and bars, which combine for an estimated 1,250 locations in San Francisco.

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Obama takes steps toward requiring paid sick leave

January 15, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Is it a sensible plan to boost productivity and give workers the help they deserve, or is it an unaffordable, unfair mandate on already overburdened employers? President Barack Obama’s announcement of a push to pass a paid sick leave law is likely to garner both reactions.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, launched the effort January 14 with a post on the career-centered social network LinkedIn, a venue chosen because of its high profile with employers.

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New California law on immigrant discrimination takes effect January 1

by Alka Ramchandani

A new California law taking effect January 1 clarifies a previous law prohibiting immigrant-related discrimination.

Last year, a law creating California Labor Code Section 1019 was enacted. That law makes it unlawful for an employer or any other person to engage in—or direct another person to engage in—any “unfair immigration-related practice” against a worker in retaliation for exercising a legal right.

Unfair immigration-related practices include requesting more or different documents than are required under law, threatening to file a false police report, using the federal E-Verify system to check the status of an employee in a time and manner not required by law, or threatening to contact immigration authorities.

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San Francisco ‘ban the box’ ordinance starts August 13

by Andrew J. Sommer and Alka Ramchandani

San Francisco’s new “ban the box” law, titled the Fair Chance Ordinance, will limit the timing and scope of inquiries into an applicant’s or employee’s criminal history when it takes effect August 13.

In addition to banning inquiries into criminal history on job applications, the ordinance also places significant restrictions on an employer’s ability to obtain and use that information in the hiring process.

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California minimum wage will hit $9 on July 1

by Michael Futterman and Jaime Touchstone

As fast-food and other low-wage workers protest for pay raises and President Barack Obama pushes for a higher federal minimum wage, California employers need to prepare for a $1 increase in the state’s minimum wage. California’s minimum wage will rise to $9 an hour on July 1 before hitting $10 an hour in 2016.

Certain types of employees such as outside salespersons, apprentices, and learners may be exempt from minimum wage requirements, but in general, the requirements apply regardless of whether employees are paid on an hourly, commission, or salaried basis. Under the California Wage Orders, employees are considered learners during the first 160 hours of employment in occupations in which they have no related experience. Learners may not be paid less than 85 percent of the minimum wage, rounded to the nearest nickel.

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Categories: California / Minimum Wage

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New California law grants domestic workers overtime pay

by Cathleen S. Yonahara

A new California law taking effect January 1, 2014, grants overtime pay for at least the next three years to domestic workers who are personal attendants.

Under old state law, “personal attendants” are exempt from statutory overtime and meal and rest break provisions, but they are not exempt from minimum wage requirements.

A personal attendant is defined as any person employed by a private householder or any third-party employer recognized in the healthcare industry to work in a private household to supervise, feed, or dress a child or a person who by reason of advanced age, physical disability, or mental deficiency needs supervision. To have personal attendant status, the employee may not spend more than 20 percent of his or her weekly work time engaged in other duties.

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Employers need to be ready for new California law on same-sex harassment

by Tara K. Clancy and Kristine W. Hanson

A new California law means employees who file same-sex harassment cases should have an easier time getting relief from the courts. Senate Bill (SB) 292, which was signed into law in August and takes effect in January, means employees don’t have to have evidence that sexual desire is behind sexual harassment. Instead, liability may arise from comments or actions based on gender alone.

Before the new law, sexual harassment required a showing that the conduct was motivated by sexual desire. SB 292 expressly provides that conduct may be considered sexual harassment even if it isn’t motivated by sexual desire. As a result, the new law expands the realm of actions for which an employer may be liable based on the acts of its employees.

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