California Legislative Update

As reported here and here, California recently enacted new legislation – Assembly Bill 5 – that expanded the scope of an “employee” under state law.  Beginning January 1, 2020, the answer to whether a person providing services in California is an independent contractor (as opposed to an employee) under the California Labor Code, the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Orders, and the California Unemployment Insurance Code, will generally depend on whether they satisfy all three prongs of the so-called ABC Test:

  1. The worker must be free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work.
  2. The worker must perform work outside the “usual course” of the hirer’s business.
  3. The worker must be customarily engaged in an independent established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.

There are a myriad of occupational and industry exemptions to the application of the ABC Test, many of which are highlighted here.

Having tightened independent contractor classification standards, the next big target for the state legislature may be joint employer liability.


Continue Reading Back to the Joint Employer: Having Changed the Classification Test for Independent Contractors, Will the California Legislature Target the Joint Employer Test Next?

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 August 30, 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 778, which effectively delayed employer sexual harassment training requirements established in 2018. As we have covered in previous articles, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, California lawmakers passed legislation intended to curb sexual harassment in the workplace. One such example was SB 1343, signed into law on September 30, 2018 by then Governor Jerry Brown. SB 1343 required employers with 5 or more employees, including temporary or seasonable employees, to provide at least 2 hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisors and at least one hour of sexual harassment training to all nonsupervisory employees by January 1, 2020, and once every two years thereafter. The law specified that an employer who had provided this training to an employee after January 1, 2019 was not required to provide sexual harassment training and education by the January 1, 2020 deadline. However, as discussed in prior blog entries, this led to confusion among employers who were already providing anti-harassment training to their nonsupervisory employees. Under the letter of the current law, some of these employees would have to participate in the training twice in a 2-year period, at cost to the employer and providing little additional benefit to the employee.
Continue Reading One Year Reprieve: California Delays Employer Sexual Harassment Training Requirements to 2021

On September 18 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB-5, which codified the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex v. Superior Court decision.  In Dynamex, the California Supreme Court adopted the so-called “ABC” test to determine coverage under the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Orders.  AB-5 expands the application of the ABC test to the entire California Labor Code and will take effect on January 1, 2020.
Continue Reading It’s Official: Newsom Expands The Definition of “Employee” Under California Law

Following the launch of the so-called “MeToo” movement, the California Legislature (controlled by a Democratic supermajority) has aggressively churned out new bills that further strengthen the ability for workers to sue their employers and increase the already-significant regulatory burden on these companies. This fall, the California Legislature is geared to send three significant bills to Governor Gavin Newsom that all California employers should carefully follow.
Continue Reading Three Major Workplace Bills to Land on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Desk

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

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?

With the rise of the #MeToo movement, companies have been forced to re-examine how they litigate and settle allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace.  Specifically, companies are facing increasing criticism if they compel claims of sexual harassment to private arbitration or force employees who allege sexual harassment to sign settlement agreements with confidentiality clauses, effectively shielding both the company and the alleged sexual harasser from public scrutiny.
Continue Reading #MeToo Changes the Face of Sexual Harassment Litigation for Employers

On Sunday, September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a number of bills that will have a significant impact on litigation and legal counseling in the employment context. Many of the new laws are a response to the traction gained by the “me-too” movement and are summarized herein.
Continue Reading New Wave of Employment Bills Signed into Law