United States: New California Employment Laws For 2014

Last Updated: January 13 2014
Article by Marcia E. Goodman and John P. Zaimes

Keywords: California, employment laws, 2014

The California state legislature continues to enact laws designed to provide employees additional protections and benefits. In this edition of our US Employment Litigation Roundup, we take a look at some of the more important statutes enacted by the California legislature in 2013 that will apply to companies with California-based employees in 2014. Other jurisdictions often follow California's lead, so other states may see similar statutes enacted in the future. Except where otherwise specified, all of the new laws take effect on January 1, 2014.

Minimum Wage Increases

The state minimum wage of $8 per hour will increase to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014, and to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016.

Expansion of Paid Family Leave Benefits

The California Paid Family Leave law currently provides employees with up to six weeks of paid time off to care for a seriously ill spouse, child, domestic partner or parent, or to bond with a child within one year of birth. A new statute, SB 770, extends the categories of relatives covered by Paid Family Leave to include seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren and parents-in-law.

Expansion of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Victim Protection

The California Labor Code currently prohibits an employer from discharging, discriminating against or otherwise retaliating against an employee who is a victim of domestic abuse and has taken time off in connection with the domestic abuse (e.g. to attend court proceedings). SB 400 extends this protection to include stalking victims.

In addition, SB400 mandates that employers provide reasonable accommodations for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking if the employee discloses that he or she is a victim of such a crime. A similar law, SB 288, prohibits discriminating against or retaliating against an employee who is a victim of felonies such as child abuse, domestic violence, physical abuse of the elderly or dependent adults, sexual assault and solicitation for murder, and who takes time off to appear in various proceedings related to those crimes.

Expanded Whistleblower Retaliation Protections

Currently, Labor Code 1102.5 prohibits employers from attempting to prevent an employee from disclosing to a government or law enforcement entity the employer's violation of, or noncompliance with, a state or federal statute, rule or regulation, or from otherwise retaliating against an employee for doing so. Case law under that statute has excluded employees whose duties included the disclosure of legal compliance information from being categorized as whistleblowers. However, SB 494 expands the definition of whistleblowers to include such employees, thus overruling the prior case law.

Protections for "Domestic Work Employees"

AB 241 establishes new rights for "domestic work employees." Under this law, a "personal attendant" who works more than nine hours in any workday, or more than 45 hours in any workweek, must be paid time and a half for all hours worked in excess of those amounts. While the law defines "domestic work" broadly, it does not include employees in facilities providing boarding or lodging or employees involved in medical, nursing, convalescent, aged or child care.

Expanding Protection for Undocumented Workers

A series of new laws provide greater protections for immigrants who exercise their employment-related rights. Under AB 263, "an unfair immigration-related practice" is any of the following when done for a retaliatory purpose: (i) requesting more or different documents than required by federal immigration law, or refusing to honor tendered documents that reasonably appear on their face to be genuine; (ii) using the federal E-Verify system to check the employment authorization status of a person at a time or in a manner not required by federal law or not authorized by any memorandum of understanding governing the use of the E-Verify system; (iii) threatening to file, or filing, a false police report; or (iv) threatening to contact, or contacting, the immigration authorities.

The bill also prohibits employers from taking adverse action against employees who make updates to their personal information that are unrelated to skills, qualifications or knowledge. This seemingly innocuous provision may prevent termination for providing false work authorization documents and subsequently updating the information.

Another new statute, SB 666, expands the definition of "adverse action" to include reporting, or threatening to report, to a government agency the suspected citizenship or immigration status of a worker or the worker's family in retaliation for the worker's exercising a lawful right. An employer that engages in an unfair immigration-related practice can lose its business license. Such conduct could also subject the employer to charges of criminal extortion pursuant to AB 524.

SB 666 also provides for disciplinary action, up to and including disbarment, against a California licensed attorney who reports or threatens to report the suspected immigration status of a witness or party in an administrative or civil matter because that person has exercised a lawful employment-related right.

Restriction of Employers' Right to Recover Attorneys' Fees and Costs

Labor Code 218.5 previously required a court to award attorneys' fees and costs to the prevailing party in an action for the nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension fund contributions. Kirby v. Immoos Fire Protection (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1244, 1248. SB 462 changes the law such that an employer now can only be awarded attorneys' fees and costs if the court determines that the employee brought the action in "bad faith."

Military and Veteran Status Protected Category

AB 556 adds a new protected classification under the Fair Employment Housing Act for "military and veteran status."

Recovery of Unremitted Employee Wage Withholdings

Under SB 390, an employer that fails to remit withholdings from a worker's wages to the appropriate local, state or federal agency is guilty of a crime. Any recovery or restitution resulting from a criminal proceeding is to be paid to the agency or entity to whom it is owed.

Expansion of Rights under New San Francisco Ordinance

San Francisco's new Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance provides a process by which employees have the right to request changes to their work conditions to help them meet their caregiver responsibilities to: a child; a seriously ill spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent; or a parent 65 years or older. The new law applies to all employers that regularly employ 20 or more employees and to employees who have worked at least six months and work at least eight hours a week. The employees can seek accommodations in terms of hours worked, schedule, work location, work assignment and predictability of work schedule. A request must be made in writing and must explain why the change will assist in meeting caregiver obligations. This begins a process that can include meetings and requests for reconsideration. San Francisco's Office of Labor Standards Enforcement will investigate alleged violations of the law's administrative, posting, and documentation requirements but will not look into the validity of an employer's denial of a request.

Originally published January 2014

Learn more about our Employment Litigation & Counseling practice.

Visit us at mayerbrown.com

Mayer Brown is a global legal services provider comprising legal practices that are separate entities (the "Mayer Brown Practices"). The Mayer Brown Practices are: Mayer Brown LLP and Mayer Brown Europe – Brussels LLP, both limited liability partnerships established in Illinois USA; Mayer Brown International LLP, a limited liability partnership incorporated in England and Wales (authorized and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and registered in England and Wales number OC 303359); Mayer Brown, a SELAS established in France; Mayer Brown JSM, a Hong Kong partnership and its associated entities in Asia; and Tauil & Chequer Advogados, a Brazilian law partnership with which Mayer Brown is associated. "Mayer Brown" and the Mayer Brown logo are the trademarks of the Mayer Brown Practices in their respective jurisdictions.

© Copyright 2014. The Mayer Brown Practices. All rights reserved.

This Mayer Brown article provides information and comments on legal issues and developments of interest. The foregoing is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek specific legal advice before taking any action with respect to the matters discussed herein.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Marcia E. Goodman
 
In association with
Related Video
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
Accounting and Audit
Anti-trust/Competition Law
Consumer Protection
Corporate/Commercial Law
Criminal Law
Employment and HR
Energy and Natural Resources
Environment
Family and Matrimonial
Finance and Banking
Food, Drugs, Healthcare, Life Sciences
Government, Public Sector
Immigration
Insolvency/Bankruptcy, Re-structuring
Insurance
Intellectual Property
International Law
Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration
Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment
Privacy
Real Estate and Construction
Strategy
Tax
Transport
Wealth Management
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.