California Employment Legislation

On October 12, 2019, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1291 (“AB 1291”) into law, which requires companies to sign a so-called “labor peace” agreement with a union or risk losing their cannabis license; thereby, strengthening already union-friendly statewide cannabis law. AB 1291 was supported and endorsed by various unions, including the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, a 170,000-member branch representing thousands of cannabis workers. This bill, as well as other California statutes and local laws, signals a growing insistence by state and local regulators that employers doing business in California accept pro-union requirements. However, many of these new pro-union laws, including AB 1291, may be unconstitutional.
Continue Reading AB 1291 Forces California Cannabis Companies To Sign “Labor Peace Agreements” With Unions, But Statute May be Unconstitutional

As previously reported, Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed into law AB 5. The controversial law narrowing the classification of independent contractors was aimed at companies like Uber and Lyft. But what does it mean for the entertainment industry?
Continue Reading California AB 5 in Entertainment, Media and Advertising

To close out the 2019 legislative season, Governor Gavin Newsom signed dozens of bills into law, which will have lasting impacts for California employers. In addition to the summaries and clarifications from prior blog posts, below is an overview of key new employment laws.
Continue Reading 2020 Vision: California’s New Employment Laws

On July 3, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 188 also known as the Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act.  The CROWN Act amends the California Education Code and the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s definition of race to include traits historically associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles.  Protective hairstyles include, but are not limited to, “braids, locks, and twists.”
Continue Reading A Heads Up On The CROWN Act: Employees’ Natural Hairstyles Now Protected

In a continuing trend that began with the launch of the MeToo Movement, the California legislature recently passed Assembly Bill 171, another proposed law designed to expand safeguards for employees who have been the victims of sexual harassment. This latest measure follows California’s enactment of a new law in 2017, which, as we discussed in a previous article, requires that employers provide all new (and certain current) employees with an explanation of rights for victims of sexual assault and stalking.
Continue Reading Coming Soon? Expanded Employment Protections for Victims of Sexual Harassment

Signaling another positive development for interstate motor carriers operating in California, the United States District Court for the Central District of California (the “Central District”) recently dismissed a truck driver’s claims that motor carrier U.S. Xpress failed to provide a class of drivers with legally required meal and rest periods compliant with California law. See, Ayala v. U.S. Express Enters., Inc. et al. Case No. 5:16-cv-00137-GW-(KKx) (Order Granting Partial Summary Judgment). The Court, in granting U.S. Xpress’s motion for partial summary judgment, stated that it did not possess the authority to review the merits of the case since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) determined, in December 2018, that Federal law preempts California state law. The Central District applied the FMCSA’s order retroactively to the Ayala case, filed in 2016, stating that it was bound by the FMCSA order and would apply the order in similar cases unless and until the order was invalidated by the Ninth Circuit.
Continue Reading California’s Meal and Rest Break Rules for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Remain Preempted by Federal Law . . . For Now

Last August, we wrote about a Chicago ordinance requiring hotel employers to, among other things, equip hotel employees assigned to work in guestrooms or restrooms with portable emergency contact devices. The emergency contact devices, referred to as “panic buttons,” may be used to summon help if the employee reasonably believes that an ongoing crime, sexual harassment, sexual assault or other emergency is occurring in the employee’s presence. The Chicago ordinance took effect July 1, 2018.
Continue Reading “Panic Button” Laws Make Their Way Across The U.S.

California lawmakers passed over a dozen employment-related bills last year that imposed new or different obligations on California employers. Just as employers may be finally settling into the new world order and getting into compliance with the litany of new laws, there are two new legislative updates that employers must be aware of. These new pieces of legislation serve as an important reminder that employment laws are constantly changing, and employers caught flat footed may be left to suffer the consequences.

In a welcome change from Sacramento, on February 26, 2019, the California Senate introduced Senate Bill 778, which is designed to clarify when employers are required to provide sexual harassment training and education to employees under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and when retraining is required.
Continue Reading No Rest For The Weary – California Employment Legislation Update

On January 1, 2019, California’s Senate Bill No. 1431 went into effect, making a slight, but potentially significant amendment to Civil Code Section 1542. The prior version of the statute read: “A general release does not extend to claims which the creditor does not know or suspect to exist in his or her favor at the time of executing the release, which if known by him or her must have materially affected his or her settlement with the debtor.” SB 1431 amended Section 1542 to now read: “A general release does not extend to claims that the creditor or releasing party does not know or suspect to exist in his or her favor at the time of executing the release and that, if known by him or her, would have materially affected his or her settlement with the debtor or released party.” The amended version of the Code adds “releasing party” and “released party” alongside creditor and debtor, respectively, and also changes “must have materially affected” to “would have materially affected” the releasing party’s decision to settle.
Continue Reading California Legislature Amends Section 1542: Are Employer Settlement Agreements Now More Vulnerable to Attack?

After two years, California courts are finally putting California’s “A Fair Day’s Pay Act” (the “Act”) to the test. While intended to help employees collect judgments against employers that are judgment proof, the Act created potential personal liability for an employer’s owners, directors, officers, and managing agents. Indeed, the Act added Labor Code Section 558.1, which imposes personal liability for certain wage and hour violations. Specifically, Section 558.1 states that “[a]ny employer or person acting on behalf of an employer, who violates, or causes to be violated,” provisions regulating wages or hours, may be held personally liable “as the employer.” Section 558.1 expressly defines “employer or other person acting on behalf of an employer” to include a “natural person who is an owner, director, officer, or managing agent of the employer.” Accordingly, potentially any managing agent who “causes” a wage and hour Labor Code provision to be violated could be held personally liable. While the passing of Section 558.1 caused uproar over the imposition of personal liability for wage and hour violations, the California Court of Appeal recently clarified that even in the absence of this new section, the labor code imposes personal liability.
Continue Reading Managers Beware: Can you be held personally liable for wage and hour violations?