As economists argue whether a recession is on the horizon, some employers may begin to prepare to cut expenditures, including through a reduction in force. While not necessary under most state laws, many employers opt to provide severance to employees they choose to lay off. This severance is usually provided by way of a separation agreement in exchange for the employee’s agreement not to bring certain claims against the employer, among other things. As employers begin determining whether they will undergo a reduction in force, they should ensure their separation agreements adhere to applicable state laws.
In Lawson v. PPG Architectural Finishes, Inc., __ P.3d __, 2022 WL 244731 (Cal., Jan. 27, 2022), the California Supreme Court clarified that whistleblower retaliation claims brought under Labor Code section 1102.5 should not be evaluated under the McDonnell Douglas test, but instead the standard enumerated in Labor Code section 1102.6. Under the section 1102.6 standard, a plaintiff must show that a protected activity was a contributing factor in a prohibited action against the employee by a preponderance of the evidence. The employer must then demonstrate with clear and convincing evidence that the action would have occurred for legitimate, independent reasons, even if the employee had not engaged in protected action.
Continue Reading California Supreme Court Holds That McDonnell Douglas Standard Should Not Be Used When Evaluating Whistleblower Retaliation Claims
On September 27, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s Assembly Bill 1003 into law. This new legislation establishes that intentional theft of wages or tips by employers is punishable as grand theft. The law takes effect on January 1, 2022.
Continue Reading New California Law Imposes Harsh Penalties for Employers Committing Intentional Wage Theft
In January 2020, Illinois legalized the use of recreational marijuana through the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (“the Act”). Two months later, many employees began working remotely because of the pandemic. Today, work-from-home continues to blur the lines between “work” and “home” in countless ways, and employee drug policies are no exception. The new world of remote work has left many employers wondering what to do with their drug policies now that cannabis is legal and their employees are remote or hybrid. Can an employer lawfully prevent their employees from using cannabis while working from home?
Continue Reading What Do I Do With My Workplace Drug Policy Now That Cannabis Is Legal in Illinois and My Employees Are Remote?
On January 1, 2021, various new and amended employment laws will go into effect in California. Below is a summary of some of these laws that employers should make themselves aware of heading into the new year. All laws discussed in this post go into effect on January 1, 2021, unless otherwise noted.
Continue Reading New Employment Laws to Look Out for in 2021
In a landmark opinion authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Title VII’s prohibition of employment discrimination based on sex applies to both sexual orientation and gender identity.
On April 9, 2019, New York’s City Council passed legislation, available here, which will prohibit employers from requiring prospective employees to submit to testing for tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, as a condition of employment. If, as expected, Mayor Bill de Blasio signs the law into effect, the New York City Human Rights Law will be amended to make it a discriminatory practice to require pre-employment marijuana testing of employees in New York City.
Continue Reading New York City Council Passes Legislation Banning Marijuana Testing of Job Applicants
The legalization of recreational use of marijuana in several states, including California, has left many employment policies vague and confused. This article offers insights to questions every employer should be asking in light of legalization.
California’s Rollout of Legal Marijuana
California voters passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (“Prop 64”) on November 8, 2016, legalizing recreational marijuana use. However, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control only began accepting, processing, and issuing licenses to commercial marijuana dispensaries as of January 1, 2018. As of April 2018, the Bureau has granted over 5,000 licenses for a variety of commercial uses, including retail sales and distribution.
Continue Reading It’s High Time to Update Your Marijuana Policies
Retailers and other employers regularly consider the backgrounds of job applicants and employees when making personnel decisions. It is not illegal for employers to ask questions about an applicant’s criminal history, or to require a background check. However, whenever an employer requests background information about a job applicant or employee, the employer must comply with federal and state laws. Within the last five years, employers have been put under increased scrutiny, especially when they require criminal background checks during the hiring process. This article summarizes recent legal trends regarding criminal background checks in the employment context, and discusses how employers—particularly those within the retail industry—can ensure compliance with the law.
Continue Reading “Ban the Box” and Background Checks – Recent Trends and Movements
The new year will bring along a variety of new obligations for California employers. Although some of the new laws clarify existing law and provide helpful guidance, several impose additional requirements. This update highlights key provisions of some of the more notable changes taking effect in 2017. Links to the statutes and/or prior updates regarding the same are provided where applicable.
Continue Reading California Employers – New Year, New Rules in 2017