On October 8, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill No. 497, the “Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Protection Act.” The new law amends California Labor Code sections 98.6, 1102.5, and 1197.5 to create a “rebuttable presumption of retaliation” if an employee experiences an adverse employment action within 90 days of engaging in any protected activity covered by the specified sections. This new law, which will become effective on January 1, 2024, also entitles a prevailing plaintiff civil penalties for each violation.Continue Reading New California Law Makes It Easier for Employees to Establish Retaliation Claims for Alleged Labor Code Violations
At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows Of Harvard College, Nos. 20-1199 & 21-707, 2023 WL 4239254 (U.S. June 29, 2023), outlawed race-based affirmative action in higher education. Splitting along ideological lines, the Court’s conservative supermajority ruled, 6-3, the college admissions programs of Harvard and the University of North Carolina violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The monumental decision, which dispensed with 45 years of precedent allowing race-conscious admission policies to achieve a diverse student body, has upended the world of higher education.Continue Reading What Does Affirmative Action’s Death Knell Mean for Employers?
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.Continue Reading Considering a Reduction in Force? Time to Revise Your Separation Agreement Template
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 Tuesday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) issued its much-awaited decision in General Motors, LLC (GM), 369 NLRB No. 127 (2020), in which it held that abusive or inappropriate workplace speech by employees engaged in protected concerted or union activity (PCA) is not protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or Act) and that employers may discipline workers for engaging in such conduct, provided, the discipline is not shown to be retaliation for protected conduct.
Continue Reading Sticks and Stones…The NLRB Rethinks Its Position on Abusive Workplace Speech by Employees While They Are Engaged in Protected Concerted and Union Activities
A unionized employer must bargain with its employees’ union before making any unilateral changes in employees’ wages, hours, working conditions or other terms and conditions of employment. Such changes are commonly referred to as mandatory bargaining subjects. In Alan Ritchey, 359 NLRB 396 (2012) and later in Total Security Management, 364 NLRB No. 106 (2016), the Obama NLRB held that the discretionary discharge or suspension of a union employee was a mandatory bargaining subject — even when that discipline was carried out pursuant to an established company employment practice or policy. Therefore, according to these two controversial Obama Board decisions and absent a collective bargaining agreement provision covering the discipline or some other overriding extenuating circumstance, an employer breached its duty to bargain and violated Section 8(a)(5) of the Act when it discharged or suspended a worker without first notifying the worker’s union of the employer’s intention to discharge or suspend the employee and without first affording that union a reasonable opportunity to meet and bargain with the employer. However, a recent Trump Board decision, Oberthur Technologies, 368 NLRB No. 5, issued on June 17, signals a probable change in the Board’s governing case law on this issue.
Continue Reading NLRB Limits Duty to Bargain Over Disciplinary Actions
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
As reported in our new laws for 2017 post, employers must give written notice to new employees (and to current employees upon request) explaining the rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. All California employers with at least 25 employees must be in compliance, effective July 1, 2017.
Continue Reading Now in Effect: California Employers Must Provide New Hires with Written Notice of Victim Rights
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