New California Employment Laws 2019

This is the time of year that Californians, especially California businesses, learn of the slew of new laws that will go into effect in the coming year.  This year is not any different and the new laws are reflective of the social discussions around sexual harassment over the course of the last couple of years. California employers now have a number of laws that will require changes in your documents, training requirements, and how you do business, to name a few.  Below is a list of new laws that I thought were the most interesting and relevant by category, although there is inevitably some overlap. Contracts 1. Employers will be prohibited, with certain exceptions, from requiring an employee to execute a release of a claim or right under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) or to sign a nondisparagement agreement or other document that purports to deny the employee the right to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment.  This is applicable when the release is provided in exchange for a raise … Continue reading

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New Law 2018 –Immigration Enforcement

Immigration was a hot topic this year and starting January 1, 2018, employers will see increased obligations as they relate to employees’ immigration status.  Earlier this month, Governor Brown signed AB 450 into law. Beginning January 1, 2018, employers will have the following obligations as they relate to immigration enforcement agents and the workplace: 1. No access without a warrant: Employers, and others acting on their behalf, may not voluntarily consent to immigration enforcement agents entering nonpublic areas of a place of labor without a warrant. For example, if you own a restaurant, immigration enforcement agents are free to enter the dining room but may not enter the kitchen or back office without a warrant permitting them to do so. Penalties for violating this requirement are $2,000 to $5,000 for the first violating incident and $5,000 to $10,000 for each subsequent violation. 2. No inspection of records without warrant or subpoena: Employers, and others acting on their behalf, may not voluntarily provide immigration enforcement agents the ability to access, review, or obtain the employer’s employee records without a subpoena or … Continue reading

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Holiday Party Checklist for Employers

When you host a holiday party, how do you walk the tightrope of wanting your employees to have a great time without getting sued for sexual harassment, wage and hour claims, or workers’ compensation liability? Each company has its own work culture, which generally defines their party culture as well. I’ve attended holiday lunches sans alcohol as well as those where alcohol was free flowing. Although the presence of alcohol tends to make the event more festive and the conversation free-flowing, it’s usually at those parties that I’ve looked over and asked myself “did I really just see that?” Here are 10 Things to help your company host a holiday party without getting sued. 1. Skip the Mistletoe   This one is self-explanatory. 2. Address employer-sponsored social functions in your handbook Your harassment policy should specifically address company-sponsored social events. In particular, consider providing specific examples of unacceptable behavior at these functions. If you do gift exchanges, remind employees that risqué or adult-themed gifts should not be exchanged with co-workers. 3. Host the holiday party at a restaurant or other off-site location … Continue reading

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Are Your Employees Using Cell Phones for Business?

Personal Cell Phone Use is a Reimbursable Business Expense in California? Yes. Even if an employee has a unlimited plan? Yup. A California appellate court held in Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc. that employers must always reimburse employees when they are using cell phones for business when that use is mandatory. This is true even if the employee has an unlimited cell phone plan and does not incur any additional expenses because of the business usage. Colin Cochran worked as a customer service manager for a food delivery provider. As part of his job, he used his personal cell phone to make business calls but the company did not reimburse him for the use of his phone. Cochran filed a putative class action lawsuit against his employer on behalf of 1,500 customer service managers.   The court of appeal agreed that failure to reimburse the cell phone use, even if the employee did not incur additional expenses, violated Labor Code Section 2802(a). The court did not specify how much an employer must pay an employee for his or her cell phone … Continue reading

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