California News & Analysis

  • Brief primer for new and amended COVID-19 employment laws

    California has recently enacted or amended COVID-19 employment laws. Some of the laws have broad applicability. For example, Assembly Bill (AB) 1577 amends California's tax treatment of various loans related to the COVD-19 pandemic. Further, Senate Bill (SB) 93 provides a comprehensive framework for some employers to rehire employees who were laid off because of the pandemic.

  • Recent police reform legislation: one step up

    On September 30 and October 1, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed nine new police reform bills into law. The legislation addresses several important aspects of how public safety is delivered by peace officers across the state.

  • Employer's attorneys' fees award stricken again

    Under California's discrimination laws, a prevailing employer may not be awarded attorneys' fees or costs "unless the court finds the action was frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless when brought, or the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so." Does the same rule apply if an employee files an action in court and the employer successfully forces the employee into arbitration?

  • Staffing up during the pandemic: a few tips

    Many employers were optimistic earlier in the year when the COVID-19 vaccination program ramped up in a big way and case counts seemed to be on the decline. Restrictions were eased, and light seemed to appear at the end of the tunnel.

  • Warning: Violence is third-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries

    The Occupational Safety and Health Act's (OSH Act) General Duty Clause requires employers to provide a safe and healthful work environment for all covered workers, which includes protecting them against workplace violence. With many employees continuing to work remotely because of COVID-19, employers have let their guard down. But the physical, mental, and emotional stresses resulting from the pandemic mean you need to be prepared for conflicts now more than ever before.

  • With OSHA enforcement heating up, taking breaks now even better idea

    On September 1, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a memorandum ( establishing a new enforcement initiative to prevent and protect employees from heat-related severe illnesses and deaths while working in hazardous hot indoor or outdoor environments.

  • California News in Brief

    DFEH launches effort to enforce Fair Chance Act. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has announced a new effort to identify and correct violations of the state's Fair Chance Act, which seeks to reduce barriers to employment for individuals with criminal histories. The DFEH is using technology to conduct mass searches of online job advertisements for statements that violate the law. In a one-day review, the department found over 500 job ads with unlawful statements that the employer wouldn't consider any job applicant with a criminal record. The DFEH is documenting those violations and sending notices to the employer to remove the unlawful statement. The department also is offering a toolkit of resources to assist employers in complying with the law. The Fair Chance Act generally prohibits employers with five or more employees from asking about a job applicant's conviction history before making a conditional job offer. The law requires employers to consider an applicant's criminal history on an individual basis as well as any mitigating information provided by the applicant.

  • Divided 9th Circuit upholds California restrictions on mandatory arbitration agreements

    On September 15, 2021, a divided panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all California employers) ruled a California employer that attempts to impose mandatory arbitration agreements on applicants or employees can be subject to both criminal and civil penalties. In doing so, it struck down an injunction that prohibited California officials from enforcing Assembly Bill (AB) 51. According to the court, it's unlawful for an employer to require applicants or employees to enter into agreements to arbitrate claims alleging violations of the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the California Labor Code.

  • California EDD regulations don't govern independent contractor challenges

    Newspaper carriers classified as independent contractors sued the McClatchy Company for unfair competition based on a failure to reimburse them for business expenses under Labor Code Section 2802. After a bench trial, the court ruled for the newspaper on grounds the carriers had satisfied the requirements of the Employment Development Department (EDD) regulations governing independent contractors. The California Court of Appeal recently reversed and sent the case back for a new trial, holding the Borello test, not the EDD regulations, should govern the analysis.

  • COVID-19 vaccine mandates: 10 issues every employer should consider

    In an effort to keep employees, customers, clients, and others safe, businesses are considering whether to require their workforces to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination policies play a crucial role in businesses' evolving safety protocols, but there are numerous factors to consider when determining whether to require or encourage the shots.