A number of bills affecting rights and obligations in the workplace were enacted by the California Legislature in 2013. The following is a brief summary of each of these new laws. For a complete description of these new laws, please refer to our 15-page Reference Guide, available here and on our website for downloading.
I. Wage/Hour Legislation
A. AB 10 (Alejo) – Minimum Wage
Increases the minimum wage to not less than $9 an hour beginning July 1, 2014, and to not less than $10 an hour beginning January 1, 2016.
B. AB 241 (Ammiano) – Domestic Worker Bill of Rights
Requires payment of premium overtime pay to domestic work employees who are personal attendants for work in excess of nine hours in a workday or 45 hours in a workweek.
C. AB 442 (Nazarian) – Penalties Relating to Payment of Wages
Provides for liquidated damages in actions for recovery of unpaid minimum wages against an employer or any person acting either individually or as an officer, agent, or employee of an employer.
D. AB 1386 (Committee on Labor and Employment) – Liens
Gives the Labor Commissioner the ability to record liens against an employer’s real property to enforce orders made final in the superior court.
E. SB 168 (Monning) – Farm Labor Contractors
Establishes successor liability under prescribed circumstances when a predecessor farm labor contractor owes wages or penalties to a former employee of the predecessor.
F. SB 390 (Wright) – Failure to Remit Withholdings
Imposes criminal penalties for failing to remit required withholdings from an employee’s wages.
G. SB 435 (Padilla) – Meal and Rest or Recovery Periods
Extends meal and rest period protections and penalties to “recovery periods,” i.e., “cool down periods afforded an employee to prevent heat illness” as required by law.
H. SB 462 (Monning) – Employee Actions Brought in Bad Faith
Requires a showing of bad faith to recover prevailing party attorney’s fees against an employee in an action brought for recovery of nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension contributions.
II. Prevailing Wage Legislation
A. AB 1336 (Frazier) – Prevailing Wage Assessments and Actions
Creates an 18-month time period for the Labor Commissioner or joint labor-management committee to seek enforcement of prevailing wage requirements.
B. SB 7 (Steinberg) – Charter Cities
Prevents charter cities from using state funds on public work projects if they do not comply with prevailing wage requirements.
C. SB 377 (Lieu) – Public Works Project Determinations
Establishes time period for the Director of Industrial Relations to make a determination whether a project is a public works.
D. SB 776 (Corbett) – Employer Payment Credits
Provides employers with certain credits against prevailing wage requirements for irrevocable payments to benefit plans.
III. Anti-Retaliation Legislation
A. AB 263 (R. Hernandez) – Retaliation and Immigration-Related Practices
Protects employees from retaliation through “unfair immigration practices,” including: (1) requesting more or different documents than are otherwise required for the I-9 process or refusing to honor documents presented that “on their face reasonably appear to be genuine”; (2) using the federal E-Verify system to check employment authorization status of a person at a time or in a manner not required or authorized; (3) threatening to file or filing a false police report; or (4) threatening to contact immigration authorities when an employee exercises legally protected rights.
B. SB 496 (Wright) – Whistleblower Protection and Anti-Retaliation Protections
Prohibits an employer not only from taking action to prevent an employee from disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency regarding an employer’s violation of law, but also actions that seek to prevent the disclosure of information by an employee to a person with authority over the employee or to another employee who has authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of law.
C. SB 666 (Steinberg) – Anti-Retaliation Protection
Subjects business licenses to suspension or revocation if the licensee has reported or threatened to report the immigration status of an employee, former employee, prospective employee, or a family member of any of the above in retaliation for the individual’s exercise of legally protected rights.
IV. Employee Leave Legislation
A. AB 11 (Logue) – Reserve Peace Officers and Emergency Rescue Personnel
Requires employers who employ 50 or more employees to permit leave of up to 14 days per calendar year for the purpose of engaging in fire, law enforcement, or emergency rescue training.
B. SB 288 (Lieu) – Victim Time Off For Court Proceeding
Expands the circumstances in which an employee may take leave to appear in any court proceeding to be heard on matters on which victim’s rights are at issue.
C. SB 400 (Jackson) – Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking
Extends the protections for employees taking leave to appear in court or to obtain other forms of victim’s assistance to victims of stalking.
D. SB 770 (Jackson) – Expansion of Paid Family Leave Program
Provides partial wage replacement benefits under the Paid Family Leave program for time off to care for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, or parents-in-law. This expansion goes into effect on July 1, 2014.
V. Discrimination/Harassment Legislation
A. AB 556 (Salas) – Expansion of FEHA Protections
Adds “military and veteran status” to the list of protected categories for employment discrimination purposes under the FEHA.
B. SB 292 (Corbett) – Sexual Harassment
Clarifies that conduct constituting “sexual harassment” need not be motivated by sexual desire to be unlawful.
VI. New Legislation Affecting Employee/Applicant Background Information
A. AB 218 (Dickinson) – Prohibition of Questions re: Criminal History
Beginning July 1, 2014, state and local agencies will be prohibited from asking an applicant to disclose, orally or in writing, information concerning the conviction history of the applicant until the agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment qualifications for the position as stated in any notice issued for the position except in specified circumstances.
B. SB 530 (Wright) – Criminal Convictions and Rehabilitation
Prohibits an employer from asking an applicant to disclose information concerning a conviction that was judicially dismissed or ordered sealed.
VII. New Legislation Affecting Workers’ Safety/OSHA
A. AB 1202 (Skinner) – Hazardous Drugs
Requires the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to adopt a standard for the handling of antineoplastic drugs (chemotherapeutic agents that control or kill cancer cells) in health care facilities regardless of the setting.
A. AB 1392 (Committee on Insurance) – Work Sharing Plans
Restricts the use of work sharing plans to those that become effective before July 1, 2014.
B. SB 46 (Corbett) – Personal Information and Privacy
Expands the definition of “personal information” to include information that would permit access to an online account (i.e., “log in” information).
If you have any questions regarding the impact of these new laws on your workplace, please contact the following from our office, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.