California Legislative Initiatives for Summer 2014

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May 28th was the last day for bills to clear their respective houses in order to move forward and be voted on.  Bills under consideration by the Assembly have been transferred to the Senate, and vice versa.  All of the bills that had not cleared their originating houses are considered dead.

This session included several important bills that will have an effect on California employees and employers.

We will continue to monitor the situation with bills that may affect our clients and keep you updated on the blog.  For now, here are some of the bills of interest that are still alive:

Assembly Bills

AB 1443 (as amended May 1) would provide that discrimination against any person in the selection, termination, training, or other terms or treatment of that person in an unpaid internship, or any other program to provide unpaid experience for that person in the workplace or industry, or the harassment of an unpaid intern or volunteer, on account of the factors described above, is an unlawful employment practice. (The bill has yet to receive an opposing vote.)   Hearing in Senate Judiciary Committee June 10.

AB 1522 (last amended May 28) would enact the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014; would provide that an employee, as defined, who on or after July 1, 2015 works in California for seven or more days in a calendar year, is entitled to paid sick days to be accrued at a rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked; employee would be entitled to use accrued sick days beginning on the 90th calendar day of employment; would authorize an employer to limit an employee’s use of paid sick days to 24 hours or 3 days in each calendar year; would require employers to provide paid sick days, upon the request of the employee, for diagnosis, care, or treatment of health conditions of the employee or an employee’s family member, or for leave related to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault;  employer would be prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee who requests paid sick days; would require employers to satisfy specified posting and notice and record keeping requirements; would require the Labor Commissioner to administer and enforce these requirements, including the promulgation of regulations, and the investigation, mitigation, and relief of violations of these requirements; would authorize the Labor Commissioner to impose specified administrative fines for violations and would authorize the commissioner or the Attorney General to bring an action to recover specified civil penalties against an offender, as well as attorney’s fees, costs, and interest; would specify that bill does not apply to employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement that provides for paid sick days, nor lessen any other obligations of the employer to employees; would not apply to employees in the construction industry covered by a collective bargaining agreement if the agreement contains specified terms and was either entered into before January 1, 2015, or expressly waives the requirements of the bill in clear and unambiguous terms.  (The California Chamber of Commerce has labeled this bill a “job killer.”) Hearing in Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee June 11.

AB 1543 (last amended April 21) would require the Employment Development Department, upon receipt of the written notice, to forward a copy of any written employer notice of a mass layoff, relocation, or termination to the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development; would also require the Employment Development Department and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development each to post the notice on their websitesHearing in Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee June 11.

AB 1562 (last amended April 1) would designate a public or private school employee eligible for a leave of absence under the Moore-Brown-Roberti Family Rights Act, when the employee has either 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period, or service during that period of at least 60% of the hours that an employee who is employed full time is required to perform in a school year.  Hearing in Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee June 11.

AB 1576 (last amended May 14) would require an exposure control plan (akin to an injury prevention plan) for employers in the adult film industry, including among other requirements that the employee consent to disclosing to the Department of Industrial Relations that the employee was the subject of an HIV test.  Hearing in Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee June 11.

AB 1660 (last amended April 24) would make it a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act to discriminate against an individual because he or she holds or presents a driver’s license indicating that the holder is undocumented.  Hearing in Senate Judiciary Committee June 10.

AB 1723 would expand penalties, restitution, and liquidated damages provisions for a citation to any employer, who pays or causes to be paid to any employee a wage less than the minimum fixed by an order of the commission to a citation that includes a civil penalty, to also subject the employer to payment of any applicable penalties for the willful failure to timely pay wages of a resigned or discharged employee.  Pending in Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.

AB 1792 (last amended May 23) would require the state to compile and publish online for five years, for any employer of 25 or more public assistance beneficiaries, as defined, the name and address of the employer, the number of beneficiaries employed by the employer, the percentage of the employer’s workforce comprising beneficiaries, the total cost to the state of the aggregated benefits provided to an identified employer’s beneficiary employees, and the total cost to the state of the aggregated benefits provided to each identified employer’s beneficiary employees;  would prohibit an employer from discharging or in any manner discriminating or retaliating against an employee who enrolls in a public assistance program, refusing to hire a beneficiary for reason of being enrolled in a public assistance program, and disclosing to a nongovernmental entity that an employee receives or is applying for public benefits.  Pending in Senate Committee on Health.

AB 2053 would require that existing required training of supervisors concerning sexual harassment training and education include, as a component of the training and education, prevention of abusive conduct, as defined. Hearing in Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee June 25.

AB 2074 would provide that a suit for liquidated damages may be filed at any time before the expiration of the statute of limitations for bringing the underlying action alleging payment of less than the state minimum wage. Hearing in Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee June 11.

AB 2271 (last amended March 28) would make it unlawful, unless based on a bona fide occupational qualification or any other provision of law, for an employer, an employment agency, or a person who operates an website for posting jobs in California to publish an advertisement or announcement for any job that includes provisions pertaining to an individual’s current employment or employment status, as specified.  The bill would subject an employer, an employment agency, or a person who operates a website for posting jobs in California who violates the above provisions to civil penalties that increase as the number of violations increase. This bill would also provide that no private right of action is authorized for a violation of these provisions. Pending assignment by Senate Rules Committee.

AB 2288, labeled the “Child Labor Protection Act of 2014,” would award treble damages to an individual who was discriminated against in the terms or conditions of his or her employment because he or she filed a claim or civil action alleging a violation of employment laws that arose while the individual was a minor. The bill would further subject a specified class of violations of employment laws relating to the employment of minors to a civil penalty, as provided. The bill would also require the tolling of the statute of limitations for claims arising from violations of employment laws until the person allegedly aggrieved attains majority, and would declare the latter provision declaratory of existing law. (No opposition to this bill through house of origin.) Hearing in Senate Judiciary Committee June 10.

AB 2416 (last amended May 23) with certain exceptions, would authorize an employee to record and enforce a wage lien upon real and personal property of an employer, or a property owner, as specified, for unpaid wages and other compensation owed the employee, and certain other penalties, interest, and costs. The bill would prescribe requirements relating to the recording and enforcement of the wage lien and for its extinguishment and removal. The bill would require a notice of lien on real property to be executed under penalty of perjury. The bill would authorize the employer or property owner to use a procedure to release the notice of lien if the employer makes specified contentions, and would require a specific certification under the procedure to be made under penalty of perjury. (The California Chamber of Commerce has labeled this bill a “job killer.”)  Pending assignment by Senate Rules Committee.

AB 2617 (last amended April 30) would prohibit a person from requiring a waiver of the protections afforded under specified civil rights laws as a condition of entering into a contract for the provision of goods or services, including the right to file and pursue a civil action or complaint with, or otherwise notify, the Attorney General or any other public prosecutor, or law enforcement agency, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, or any court or other governmental entity. This bill would require any waiver of the protections afforded under those provisions to be knowing and voluntary, and in writing, and expressly not made as a condition of entering into the contract or as a condition of providing or receiving goods or services. This bill would provide that any person seeking the enforcement of a waiver of the protections afforded under those civil rights provisions shall have the burden of proving that the waiver was knowing and voluntary and not made as a condition of the contract or of providing or receiving the goods or services. The bill’s provisions would apply to contracts entered into, altered, modified, renewed, or extended on and after January 1, 2015. This bill would provide that its provisions shall not be construed to negate other specified provisions. (The California Chamber of Commerce has labeled this bill a “job killer.”) Pending assignment by Senate Rules Committee.

AB 2751 (last amended May 28) would expand the definition of unfair immigration-related practice to include threatening to file or the filing of a false report or complaint with any state or federal agency. The bill would authorize a civil action for equitable relief and any applicable damages or penalties by an employee or other person who is the subject of an unfair immigration-related practice. The bill would further authorize a court to order, upon application by a party or on its own motion, the appropriate government agencies to suspend certain business licenses held by the violating party for prescribed periods based on the number of violations.  This bill would also prohibit an employer from discharging or in any manner discriminating, retaliating, or taking any adverse action against an employee because the employee updates or attempts to update personal information based on a lawful change of name, social security number, or federal employment authorization document. The bill would prohibit an employer’s compliance with these provisions from serving as the basis for a claim of discrimination, including any disparate treatment claim. Hearing in Senate Judiciary Committee June 10.

Senate Bills

SB 935 (last amended May 27) would increase the minimum wage, for both public and private employment, on and after January 1, 2015, to not less than $11 per hour, on and after January 1, 2016, to not less than $12 per hour, and on and after January 1, 2017, to not less than $13 per hour. The bill would further increase the minimum wage annually thereafter, to maintain employee purchasing power. The automatically adjusted (indexed) minimum wage imposed by the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) would be calculated using the California Consumer Price Index. The bill would prohibit the IWC from adjusting the minimum wage downward.  In Assembly; held at desk.

SB 1314 (last amended June 4) would extend the deadline for claimants and employers to appeal unemployment benefits eligibility, as specified, to an administrative law judge (ALJ) and to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (CUIAB) from 20 to 30 days, on and after July 1, 2015.  Pending in Assembly Insurance Committee.

SB 1360 (introduced February 21) would provide that a rest or recovery period mandated by state law, including, but not limited to, an applicable statute, or applicable regulation, standard, or order of the IWC, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, or the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, shall be counted as hours worked, for which there shall be no deduction from wages. The bill would declare that provision to be declaratory of existing law.   Assembly Labor and Employment Committee hearing June 11.

SB 1407 (last amended May 27) would declare that a waiver or release of claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act is contrary to public policy and unenforceable, unless the waiver or release of claims is knowing and voluntary. In Assembly; held at desk.

We will continue to monitor these and other important developments in the world of employment law and employment litigation in order to keep our clients and attorney associates up to date on the most current changes.  Should you have any questions about any of these bills or any other labor law issues, contact the offices of Stephen Danz & Associates at (877) 789-9707 or use the Contact Form on our website to submit questions or schedule a free consultation today.