At the close of the legislative session, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a number of important employment bills, including SB 358 targeting California’s gender wage gap, and AB 622 barring employers from abusing the E-Verify system. Below is a summary of the bills that apply generally to private employers. All are effective January 1, 2016, unless otherwise indicated.
California’s Fair Pay Act: SB 358
On October 6, 2015, Governor Brown signed SB 358 (California’s Fair Pay Act) (the “Act”) which amends Labor Code Section 1197.5. The Act strengthens California’s existing equal pay provisions and wage transparency law. It eliminates previous language restricting wage comparisons between jobs within an “establishment,” and protects inquiries about wages.
For more information see our detailed legal update on SB 358 which can be found here.
E- Verify Abuse: AB 622
AB 622 adds Section 2814 to the California Labor Code, and makes it unlawful for an employer to use E-Verify to check the employment authorization status of an existing employee or applicant who has not been offered employment, except as required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds. The law does not prohibit employers from using the E-Verify, in accordance with federal law, to check the employment authorization status of a person who has been offered employment. It describes the process an employer should follow when receiving a tentative non-confirmation from the Social Security Administration or Department of Homeland Security. Violation of the law carries a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.
Child Care Provider and Kin Care Leave: SB 579
SB 579 Expands the Provisions of the Family-School Partnership Act and California’s Kin Care Law, and amends Sections 230.8 and 233 of the California Labor Code.
Labor Code Section 230.8, or the Family-School Partnership Act (the “Act”), currently provides up to 40 hours of leave each year to parents so that they can participate in their children’s school or “licensed day care facilities” activities. SB 579 replaces the phrase “licensed child day care facility” with “licensed child care provider” and expands the purposes for taking leave to include finding, enrolling or reenrolling a child in school or with a licensed child care provider. SB 579 also permits employees to take leave to address specified child care provider or school emergencies. Notably, the law’s protections will now extend beyond parents, guardians or grandparents having custody to include stepparents, foster parents and persons who stand in loco parentis to a child.
SB 579 also amends California’s Kin Care law, Labor Code Section 233, by permitting employees to use kin care for the reasons specified under California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (otherwise known as California’s paid sick leave law) and provides that “family member” has the same meaning as under California’s paid sick leave law.
Religious and Disability Retaliation: AB 987
AB 987 amends Section 12940 of the California Government Code, and makes it unlawful to retaliate against individuals who request a reasonable accommodation on the basis of religion or disability, regardless of whether the request for accommodation was granted.
Retaliation for Family Member’s Protected Conduct: AB 1509
AB 1509 amends California Labor Code Sections 98.6, 1102.5, 2810.3, and 6310, and expands the protections of these laws to an employee who is a family member of a person who engaged in, or was perceived to engage in, protected conduct under these statutes or who makes a complaint protected by these laws. AB 1509 applies to “client employers,” such as employers who use labor from temporary service agencies.
Section 2810.3, enacted last year, requires client employers to share all civil legal responsibility and liability with labor contractors for workers supplied by the labor contractor for the payment of wages and the failure to obtain valid workers compensation coverage. It prohibits client employers from shifting workplace safety duties and liabilities to the labor contractor. Certain client employers are excluded from liability under 2810.3. AB 1509 expands the exclusions to certain client employers who use a third-party household goods carrier, or who are household goods carriers.
PAGA Cure: AB 1506
AB 1506 amends the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). PAGA allows a private citizen to “step into the shoes” of the attorney general to pursue civil penalties on behalf of the State for violations of the Labor Code. AB 1506 requires employees to give employers an opportunity to cure wage statement violations concerning the inclusion of the start and end date of each pay period and the employer’s name and address on the pay statement, before pursuing a PAGA claim.
AB 1506 is an urgency statute and went into effect on October 2, 2015.
For more information see our detailed legal update on AB 1506 which can be found here.
Labor Commissioner’s Authority Over Local Laws and Expense Reimbursement Penalties: AB 970
AB 970 amends Sections 558, 1197 and 1197.1 of the California Labor Code, and authorizes the Labor Commissioner to investigate and enforce local laws regarding overtime hours or minimum wage provisions, upon request from a local entity, and to issue citations and penalties, provided the local entity did not cite the employer for the same violation.
In addition, AB 970 amends Labor Code Section 2802 by authorizing the Labor Commissioner to issue citations against and recover penalties from employers who violate their Section 2802 expense reimbursement obligations.
Labor Commissioner’s Authority to Collect Unpaid Judgments: SB 588
SB 588 adds Sections 690.020 through 690.050 to the California Code of Civil Procedure and Sections 96.8, 238, 238.1, 238.2, 238.3, 238.4, 238.5 and 558.1 to the California Labor Code. SB 588 also amends Section 98 of the California Labor Code. SB 588 is designed to enhance the Labor Commissioner’s ability to enforce wage theft laws and to collect on outstanding judgments for nonpayment of wages.
SB 588 includes the following enforcement tools, among others, for collecting outstanding unpaid judgments for nonpayment of wages:
- Requirement that businesses purchase a wage bond of up to $150,000
- Failure to purchase the wage bond subjects the employer to a stop work order or placement of a lien by the Labor Commissioner on any of the employer’s property in California
- Failure to observe a stop order can lead to an employer, owner, director, officer, or managing agent of the employer being guilty of a misdemeanor and/or payment of a fine up to $10,000.
In addition, SB 588 also imposes liability for specified wage and hour violations on not just employers, but also persons acting on behalf of employers, such as owners, directors, officers, or managing agents of the employer.
Please note that this summary is not intended to constitute legal advice.
If you have questions regarding compliance with these new California laws or other employment laws, please feel free to contact either Kristin Pedersen or Maki Daijogo at Daijogo & Pedersen, LLP through our website, www.dpemploymentlaw.com, or by calling us at 415.924.9400.