UntitledCalifornia has recently enacted several new laws that may impact the workplace. An overview of some of the key changes is presented below. Unless otherwise noted, these changes are expected to take effect onJanuary 1, 2016.

Civil Rights Protections
The state Unruh Civil Rights Act provides protection from discrimination by all business establishments in California (including housing and public accommodations) on the basis of certain protected characteristics (e.g., age, ancestry, color, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation). Covered persons are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments.

A new amendment to the law clarifies that such protections also extend tocitizenship, primary language, and immigration status.

Employers May Cure Certain Wage Statement Violations
State law requires an employer to provide its employees with specified information regarding their wages (e.g., the inclusive dates of the period for which the employee is paid, and the name/address of the legal entity that is the employer) either semimonthly or at the time of each wage payment. Previously, state law provided that the employer did not have the right to cure a violation of this requirement before an employee was able to bring a civil action.

A new law, effective as of October 2, 2015, provides an employer withthe right to cure a violation of this requirement before an employee may bring a civil action. The law provides that a violation is only considered cured upon a showing that the employer has provided a fully compliant, itemized wage statement to each aggrieved employee, as specified in the law. The employer’s right to cure with respect to alleged violations of these provisions is limited to once in a 12-month period.

Protections Against E-Verify Misuse
A new measure generally prohibits an employer or other person (except as required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds) from using E-Verify to check the employment authorization status of anexisting employee or applicant who has not been offered employment at a time or in a manner not required or authorized underfederal law or any federal agency memorandum of understanding.

New Rules for Piece-Rate Workers
A new law requires workers compensated on a “piece-rate” basis during any pay period to be compensated for rest and recovery periods and other nonproductive time—separate from any piece-rate compensation. Additionally, the itemized wage statement required to be furnished to such employees under state law must contain (among other things): the total hours of compensable rest and recovery periods; the rate of compensation; and the gross wages paid for those periods during the pay period.

Note: Certain changes become operative at different times. Click here to read the text of the law.

Wage Theft Penalties
If a final judgment against an employer arising from its nonpayment of wages for work performed in California remains unsatisfied after a period of 30 days after the time to appeal has expired (and no appeal is pending), the employer is prohibited from continuing to conduct business in California (including conducting business using the labor of another business, contractor, or subcontractor instead of the labor of an employee), unless the employer has obtained a bond from a qualified surety company and has filed a copy of that bond with the state labor commissioner.

The bond must be effective and maintained until satisfaction of all judgments for nonpayment of wages. The principal sum of the bond must not be less than:

  • $50,000 if the unsatisfied portion of the judgment is $5,000 or less.
  • $100,000 if the unsatisfied portion of the judgment is more than $5,000 and no more than $10,000.
  • $150,000 if the unsatisfied portion of the judgment is more than $10,000.

In lieu of filing and maintaining the bond, the employer may provide the labor commissioner with a notarized copy of an accord reached with an individual holding an unsatisfied final judgment. (However, if the accord provides for the judgment to be paid in installments, and an installment payment is not made, the employer is no longer excused from satisfying the law’s bond requirement.) The law also provides civil penalties for employers who conduct business in violation of the law. Click here to read the text of the law.

Employers with questions on how these laws may impact workplace policies or procedures are advised to seek guidance from a knowledgeable employment law attorney.


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