Daneshvar Law

New Employment Laws for California

Ring in the new year with an updated handbook because there are a plethora of new employment laws which have been passed. Daneshvar Law is offering special rates to businesses in need of handbooks. You can contact us at (323) 850-5801 for more information.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s changed.

S.B. 459 imposes a fine — from $5000 to $25,000 — on employers that “willfully” misclassify someone as an independent contractor.

S.B. 299 requires employers with five or more employees to maintain group health coverage for employees on a pregnancy disability leave (PDL), for the four-month duration of the PDL. This new law will have an impact for all employers. For employers with 50 or more employees, the requirement to maintain health benefits was capped at 12 weeks during a pregnancy leave covered by the FMLA. And, smaller employers had no obligation to maintain health coverage during a PDL.

A.B. 22 prohibits employers, excluding financial institutions, from obtaining consumer credit reports on applicants or employees, except in limited circumstances. The law does not bar employers from conducting criminal background checks or checking references, or from doing credit checks where required by law.

A.B. 240 permits employees, in proceedings before the Labor Commissioner for underpayment of minimum wages, to recover liquidated damages of twice the amount of wages that were unpaid, plus interest. Previously, employees could recover liquidated damages only in court actions.

A.B. 592 adds new language to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) specifying that it is an unlawful employment practice “to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under” the CFRA.

A.B. 887 revises the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to include gender, gender identity, and gender expression in the list of protected characteristics (along with race, sex, age, disability, etc.). Gender expression is defined as a “person’s gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.”

A.B. 1236 prohibits the state, counties, or cities from requiring private employers to use the federal government’s E-Verify system. Note that, for most employers, the use of E-Verify is voluntary.

A.B. 1396, which takes effect January 2013, imposes substantial new obligations on employers that pay employees on commission.

S.B. 272 clarifies the organ/bone marrow donor paid leave law that took effect on January 1, 2011. The law now specifies that the paid leave periods under the existing law (30 days for organ donors and five days for bone marrow donors) are measured in business days and that employers must maintain an employee’s health benefits during the leave.

S.B. 559 expands the FEHA and Unruh Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of genetic information, similar to federal GINA (the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act). Note that existing California law already barred employers from subjecting applicants or employees to genetic testing or from discriminating based on genetic characteristics.

In addition to the above California law changes, there may be additional Federal actions which will be announced at the beginning of the year. Also still to be decided this year is the Brinker decision affecting Meal and Rest Periods.

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