Mandatory Paid Sick—A Bitter Pill

California will require virtually all employers, small and large, to provide employees with at least three days (24 total hours) of paid sick leave per year. The law applies to temporary, full and part-time, and seasonal employees who work 30 or more days in a calendar year. 

What to do?

While the law does not become effective until July 1, 2015, employers will be faced with difficult compliance requirements involving accrual, use, notice and record-keeping that need to be addressed well in advance. More details can be found here.

Limitations on Use of Arbitration Agreements

In June 2014, the California Supreme Court issued a long-awaited decision upholding class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements. The consequence was given full force and effect to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2011 opinion in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion reaffirming that class actions are an enforceable procedural device that exist to make the resolution of certain claims more efficient.

This new law, however, limits employers’ use of arbitration agreements with employees that require employees to waive the right to file a claim for alleged violation of certain civil rights statutes and agree to arbitrate instead. The civil rights statutes referenced prohibit among other things, discrimination and harassment based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, or medical condition. The law also prohibits businesses from refusing to employ individuals who decline to waive such legal rights.

What to do?

In arbitration agreements with employees, employers should not include waivers of the right to file a claim for alleged violation of the civil rights statutes set forth above.

Expansion of the Joint Employer Liability Concept: Employers Jointly Liable with Labor Contractors for Violations

A new section is being added to the Labor Code, Section 2810, thatexposes employers who are provided workers from labor contractors, such as employment agencies, to potential liability for wage and hour and other violations committed by the labor contractor. “Client employers” are required to share liability with a labor contractor for the payment of wages, the failure to obtain valid workers’ compensation coverage, and all legal duties or liabilities under workplace safety provisions with respect to workers provided by the labor contractor. Employers who have fewer than 25 employees or who hire fewer than five employees from the labor contractor are exempt.

What to do?

A company that contracts for labor should consider asking for indemnification from the staffing agency to mitigate some of the risk. Companies should audit the staffing agencies they work with to insure they are compliant with the law.

Revised Harassment Training

Sexual harassment training is required by AB 1825 (enacted in 2004), which requires employers with more than 50 employees in any state to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training for supervisors located in California. This new law is a simple revision to sexual harassment training. It has been called the “anti-bullying” law. The law has not been amended to prohibit “abusive conduct”, but only to require that existing “sexual harassment” training include training on prevention of “abusive conduct.”

What to do?

 Remember to provide the harassment prevention training every two years and effective January 1, 2015, include a discussion about prevention of “abusive conduct” (meaning conduct, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests).

Driver’s Licenses: Immigration and Confidentiality Issues

In 2013, California enacted a law that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for drivers licenses. This year, legislation was passed to clarify unresolved issues and to provide greater rights to immigrants who present drivers licenses to employers that were obtained without establishing citizenship. The California DMV will begin issuing licenses under the new law on January 1, 2015. These licenses will bear the designation “federal limits apply” on the face of the license. These licenses cannot be used to establish eligibility to work.

In addition, the new law makes it illegal to discriminate against employees who present the licenses for employment purposes. The new law also makes driver license information obtained by the employer “private and confidential.”

What to Do?

Employers should train staff regarding the different licenses and which licenses can be used to verify eligibility to work in the U.S. when completing the I-9. Employers should also take steps to ensure that information on the new licenses is treated with the same safeguards as other confidential information.

Reminder: Strong Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

Numerous recently enacted laws prohibit discrimination and retaliation against employees and job applicants who are victims of crime or domestic violence:

  • Discharging or, in any manner, discriminating or retaliating against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence and/or a victim of sexual assault for taking time off from work to obtain relief or attempt to obtain relief to help ensure his or her health, safety, or welfare, or that of his or her children. Labor Code Section 230(c)
  • Protects an employee who is a victim of domestic violence and/or a victim of sexual assault and works for an employer with 25 or more employees who takes time off to seek medical attention, to obtain services from a domestic violence program or psychological counseling, or to participate in safety planning. Labor Code Section 230.1
  • Requires an employer to allow an employee who is a victim of a crime, an immediate   family member of a victim, a registered domestic partner of a victim, or the child of a registered domestic partner of a victim, to take time off from work in order to attend judicial proceedings related to that crime. Labor Code Section 230.2(b)
  • The employee must give the employer reasonable advance notice of the employee’s intention to take time off, unless the advance notice is not feasible. Labor Code 23