California – The State That Keeps On Giving…More Rights to Employees

Just in time for Thanksgiving, we provide you with a summary of some of the newest (or expanded) laws that protect California’s employees. We live in the state that offers its employees the most favorable laws amongst all the U.S. territories. Therefore, when in doubt, a word to the wise is to run the scenario by an employment law attorney.

As of July 1, 2015, California’s Mandatory Paid Sick Leave law requires all employers to provide paid sick leave (PSL) to their employees. The new law mandates an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. PSL may be used for either the employee’s own sick leave or the medical need of the employee’s family members. See more information on employee meal, rest, and sick pay here. Our Oakland and San Francisco offices have also reported that their respective cities have their own PSL requirements which are often more beneficial to employees. Upon hire, employers must provide the new employee with a written notice of the new PSL rights.

There has also been activity aplenty related to Independent Contractor (mis)classification. The presumption is that the worker is an employee, and if the case is brought to court, the employer bears the burden of proving that the worker is an Independent Contractor. See the following blog discussing the Independent Contractor definition under the California Labor Code and the Right of Control test that the courts have established.

Also as of July of this year, Assembly Bill 987 established that an employee’s request for a disability or religious accommodation is considered protected activity for the purposes retaliation or discrimination claims. Until January 1, 2016, California employers who must abide by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) must provide reasonable accommodation for the employee’s disability, among other protected categories, regardless of whether the accommodation was granted by the employer. FEHA also prohibits retaliation against employees who oppose the employer’s discriminatory practices or file a complaint with government entities. However, employees establish that they were qualified to perform the duties of their positions with or without the reasonable accommodation. Just last month, a court in Texas dismissed a nurse’s disability discrimination and retaliation claims because the nurse failed to establish she was qualified to perform the duties with or without reasonable accommodation. (Salem v. Houston Methodist Hospital).

If you witnessed any improper sick leave practices, misclassification of workers as independent contractors when they should be employees, or retaliation against employees for reporting discrimination to Human Resources or a government regulator, prompt action to preserve your rights is crucial. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.