Below are the recent developments in California Employment Code, most of the laws took affect January 1st of 2014.
I have given simple summaries for each here, but you may click on any code for the full bill. If you believe your company is violating any of these, or existing laws, we encourage you to contact our San Francisco Employment Attorneys offices for answers and assistance in protecting your rights.
CHANGES TO WAGE AND CODE
Minimum Wage Increase AB 10 July 1st of this 2014 gave us one of the highest statewide minimum wages in the country. California employees can not be paid less than $9 an hour. In addition, January 1, 2016 will see another increase to $10 per hour. IS YOUR EMPLOYER UP TO DATE?
Domestic Workers Rights: AB 241 Forms The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, meaning overtime compensation for certain in-home caregivers. This includes personal attendants for elderly persons remaining in-home, and people who are disabled or ill. These workers tend to work 12 hour shifts and traditionally have been denied overtime pay for the last four hours of each shift. At time an a half this could be a significant change to your paycheck.
Rest and Meal Breaks: SB435 The new code means protections extend to so called “recovery” periods. Such rest periods are generally given to workers in danger of developing heat related illness. The new law means you cn not be asked to perform indoor work duties while you cool down.
New FINES for Minimum Wage Violations: AB 442 No longer can an employer who has cheated on wage violation just pay what they owe you and go about their business. Any employer found guilty of violating minimum wage will now face fines by the state as well, it is hoped that this will further deter unscrupulous employers from trying to get away with underpaying.
Liens Against Real Property: AB 1386 WAIT, THIS IS BIG! Previously, if the company that owed you money filed for bankruptcy you were OUT OF LUCK. No more, this law means that if your employer owes you money and they still have “Real Property” that can be sold to come up with the funds, then the state will place a lien against that property. They can not sell the property then, without paying you or others included in the settlement. This means it could take time, but at least you have a real chance at getting what you are owed.
Criminal Charges For Wage Withholding Violations: SB390 It’s no longer a simple issue of money, employers found guilty of withholding wages from one or more employees, could now be convicted of a crime and face jail time and criminal penalties. Clearly the intent of these changes to CA labor code are an effort to convince company owners that it is not worth trying to skate by and not pay their workers.
NEW PROTECTION LAWS FOR CA WORKERS
You CAN Defending Your rights: AB 263. Any employer found guilty of retaliation against an employees who speaks up in defense of himself or others, now faces a $10,000 penalty for each account.
Whistle-blower Rights: SB 496 Whether it was your rights being violated or a coworker, if you reported the illegal action and faced adverse affects for doing so you have new help in filing suit against your employer.
Immigration Status Protection: AB 263 Additional protection from AB263 mentioned above, makes it illegal to coerce or mistreat employees by using threats of deportation or the like. Your boss can’t force you to accept less than legal wages or conditions by leveraging a call to the INS.
Business license Penalties: SB 666 If your employer violates the above mentioned laws with regards to wages and immigration status their business license can be revoked or denied for approval and renewal. This means if they break the law and violate even one employees rights they could lose the ability to do business all together.
Background Checks When Applying: AB218 If you made a mistake in your past and have gotten back on track this could be big for you. You can no longer be asked about criminal history or be subjected to a background check until after you have been deemed otherwise qualified for the job you want. This means you are even ground with any other applicant until you have been through interviews and told they like you for the position. Now it is easy to see if you are being turned down after that for your record.
False claim Penalties: DON’T FAKE IT! While the area of California Labor laws leans heavily in favor of employees, there are new protections for employers if your claim is found to be false or in bad faith. If you clearly fabricated the claim to attempt to extort money out of an employer the penalties are now even greater. SO DON’T DO IT. Simply losing your case is not the same, but if the court feels you were unjust in the filing you could be in big trouble.
Added Discrimination Classes: AB 556 Currently, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) defines all classes that are provided protected from discrimination. As of 2014 “Veteran and Military status” was added under this umbrella. The new class includes, “a member or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Armed Forces Reserve, the U.S. National Guard, and the California National Guard.” No member of this class can be turned down for a position or promotion, on the basis that you may have to take leave to serve as a member of the military or reserve. There are additional protections under AB556 for veterans as well.
Sexual Harassment vs Sexual Intent: SB 292 An important distinction has been made here.No longer must you prove that the harasser had any sexual intent or feelings toward the victim, rather it has been deemed irrelevant. If the victim has been harassed as defined in the law, whether or not the perpetrator(s) were attracted to them in any way does not matter.
San Francisco Care Givers Leave: As per The Family-Friendly Workplace Ordinance, included employers must be willing to work with an employees needs for a to have a predictable or flexible schedule, in order to care for a family member. You can not be subjected to any penalties for requesting this accommodation and any company with a San Francisco location must display this ordinance in the business, alongside other required postings.
Protection for Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Victims : SB 400 Protection for these victims has been extend to stalking victims as well. Your company must allow you time off to recover and or appear in court without penalizing you in anyway. It is also in your rights to expect your company to make reasonable safety precautions on your behalf, such as allowing you to park in a space right in front usually reserved for someone else, having a coworker walk you to your vehicle or altering your shift so you are not at the business alone.
Leave for Emergency Duty Workers: AB 11 All companies with at least 50 employees, shall allow those employees who operate as volunteer firefighters, peace officers, reservists or similar emergency response, up to 14 days leave to serve in this emergency capacity as needed. You can not suffer adverse effects from taking such leave, such as losing a promotion you were in line for or losing seniority for holidays and shifts etc.
Crime Victims Rights: SB288 The rights of some victims were extended, allowing them time off in order to appear in court proceedings where their rights may be affected as a victim. Such persons must still follow their companies policies for requesting time off and it does not include ALL crimes. You can see the full list at the link above.
Paid Family Leave Benefits Growing: SB 770 An expansion of the act means partial wage replacement benefits will continue when caring for grandparents, grandchildren, siblings or in-laws. Receiving PFL benefits through the state, is still a separate issue from the employee’s right to take the time off from work. This does not alter the definition of “family” found in leave statutes of the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
NEW CALIFORNIA LABOR CODES FOR SPECIFIC INDUSTRIES
Farm Labor Contract Takeover: SB 168 sets out regulations that mean a new contractor who takes over a contract is liable for wages and penalties owed to the previous contractor if they meet at least two of the criteria as set in the law. See these specifics at the link above.
Garment Manufacturer Laws: AB 1384 Any licensed garment maker MUST post their license number and physical address at the entrance to the facilities, clearly and visibly, or face penalties.
Car Washing Regulations: AB 1387 New higher requirements state the bond held by any Car Wash business must be $150,000. Such businesses with a collective bargaining agreement are currently exempt from this increase.