United States: The California Law-Making Baton Passes From Legislature To Governor

Last Updated: September 9 2014
Article by Christopher E. Cobey

By its own declaration, the California Legislature finished its 2013-2014 session in the early morning hours of Saturday, August 30 – a day early.  Those bills it passed are now on the way to, or pending before, Governor Jerry Brown.  The Legislature is in recess, with adjournment scheduled for November 30, 2014.  

The Governor normally has 12 days to sign bills he receives from the Legislature's engrossing and enrolling units.  However, he has until September 30 to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature and in his possession on or after August 20. 

Signed Legislation Relating to Private-Sector Employers

Signed by the Governor since our last update

  • AB 1680: requires any person with a valid Child Performer Services Permit to include the permit number on advertising in print or electronic media, including, but not limited to, Internet Web sites, or in any other medium of advertising. 
  • AB 2074: clarifies that the statute of limitations for a suit filed to pursue liquidated damages for the failure to pay the minimum wage will run until the expiration of the statute of limitations for the wages in which the penalties are being sought. 
  • AB 2634: provides that any individual whose exercise or enjoyment of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of this state, has been interfered with, or attempted to be interfered with, may institute and prosecute in his or her own name and on his or her own behalf a civil action for damages, injunctive relief, and other appropriate equitable relief to protect the peaceable exercise or enjoyment of the right or rights secured, including appropriate equitable and declaratory relief to eliminate a pattern or practice of conduct in violation of specified civil rights laws
  • AB 2743: allows unionized, regular short-term theatrical employees or concert venue employees to pursue liquidated damages due to non-payment of wages after discharge. 
  • AB 2744: makes necessary conforming changes to reflect a recent merger of duties within the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), and more fully integrate enforcement of apprenticeship standards within the enforcement mechanisms already available to address other violations of the requirements for contractors and subcontractors on public works projects under existing law. 

Bills Passed and Headed to or on the Governor's Desk

  • AB 1522 (paid sick leave).  This is one of the most important private sector employment bills of the year, and the Governor has publicly intimated he will sign it – an unusual move for him.  If signed, the new law would take effect January 1, 2015; paid sick leave would begin to accrue starting July 1, 2015.  Passage of the bill was dramatic. The day before the session's planned adjournment, some unions withdrew their support of the bill as it was to be amended, because the amendments would remove paid sick leave coverage for in-home health care workers.  Coverage for that group of workers, normally paid by the state, would have cost more than $100 million a year, according to Brown administration estimates.  The Governor indicated he would sign the bill if that coverage was deleted, according to legislators' floor comments late on August 29 and early on August 30, the day of adjournment.     The 14-page bill's eight new statutes create a right to three days of paid sick leave per year for any employees (with four groups of exceptions) working at least 30 days in a calendar year. The Wage Theft Protection Act's (Labor Code §2810.5) required contents of the notice to covered employees paid on an hourly basis would be expanded from eight to nine categories of information.  The new category (new §2810.5(a)(1)(H), which has four subparts) that must be provided is:

    That an employee: may accrue and use sick leave; has a right to request and use accrued paid sick leave; may not be terminated or retaliated against for using or requesting the use of accrued paid sick leave; and has the right to file a complaint against an employer who retaliates.1 The California Chamber of Commerce (Cal Chamber) removed from the bill its powerful "Job Killer" label it had on this bill for most of the year as a result of the amendments negotiated to what became the final version of the bill (August 29 version).Cal Chamber remains opposed to the bill. 

  • AB 26: clarifies that work performed during the post-construction phases of construction on a public works project, including all cleanup work at the jobsite, is considered part of the project and should be compensated at the prevailing wage rate.
  • AB 1443: unlawful harassment of unpaid interns.
  • AB 1556: codifies a number of reforms to the policies and practices in the unemployment insurance (UI) program.
  • AB 1634: enacts various provisions of law related to an employer's obligation to abate an alleged workplace safety and health hazard.
  • AB 1660: among other purposes, clarifies existing law prohibiting discrimination against persons who hold or present a driver's license, as specified, under the Fair Housing and Employment Act, including the prohibition against national origin discrimination and the closely related issue of differential treatment on the basis of immigration status that may be presumed on the basis that an individual possesses a particular driver's license.
  • AB 1723: minimum wage citations issued by the Labor Commissioner will also include any applicable "waiting time" penalties provided for under existing law.
  • AB 1792: requires the preparation of an annual report related to employers with employee beneficiaries who are enrolled in public assistance programs ("public shaming").
  • AB 1870: makes changes to existing law related to the distribution of training contributions by the California Apprenticeship Council (CAC) to approved apprenticeship programs.
  • AB 1897: establishes specified liability for client employers that obtain workers from third-party labor contractors.  Cal Chamber has labeled this a "job killer" bill.
  • AB 2053: adding training in "abusive treatment" to existing required training of supervisor concerning sexual harassment.
  • AB 2271: enacts various provisions of law related to discrimination based on an individual's employment status (present unemployment).
  • AB 2272: specifies that "public work" for purposes of prevailing wage law also means infrastructure project grants from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) pursuant to existing law.
  • AB 2536: expands the definition of emergency rescue personnel to include an officer, employee, or member of a disaster medical response team sponsored or requested by the state and requires the designated employee to notify their employer of deployment for leave purposes.
  • AB 2617: prohibits the enforcement of arbitration agreements or pre-litigation settlement agreements that require the individual to waive their right to pursue a civil action for the alleged violation of civil rights.  Cal Chamber has labeled this a "job killer" bill.
  • AB 2634: restricts contractual waiver of certain civil rights statutes, including the FEHA.
  • SB 477: requires foreign labor contractors to register with the Labor Commissioner, as well as follow additional contractual and bonding requirements.
  • SB 556: establishes requirements for identification of providers of health and safety labor services.
  • SB 610: major overhaul of law governing franchises.
  • SB 1087: strengthens the farm labor contractor (FLC) standards by, among other things, increasing bonding requirements and raising licensure fees for FLC licensure enforcement, as specified; and prohibits the FLC who engage in sexual harassment from being issued a FLC's license or renewing the license.
  • SB 1299: requires Cal-OSHA, no later than July 1, 2016, to adopt standards that require specified hospitals to adopt a workplace violence prevention plan as part of their injury and illness prevention plan. 

Some Employment Bills That Did Not Make it Out of the Legislature This Year

  • AB 1543: would have required internet posting of notices of mass layoffs.
  • AB 1562: would have expanded eligibility for unpaid family and medical leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to public or private school employees.
  • AB 2330: would have required paid time off for school or day care visits.
  • AB 2448 (Workplace Flexibility Act of 2014): would have allowed employees, with employers' approval, to work 10-hour days without overtime for the 9th and 10th hours only.
  • AB 2095: would have allowed employer recovery of attorneys' fees on unsuccessful wage statement (Labor Code §226) suits.
  • AB 2416: would have permitted liens on unproven wage claims.
  • SB 404: would have added "familial status" to protected categories of FEHA.
  • SB 935: would have increased state minimum wage.
  • SB 1372: would have replaced a publicly traded corporation's current tax rate with a rate based on a ratio between its top paid employee and the median compensation it pays. 

Local Ordinances

  • City of San Diego: minimum wage and sick leave law vetoed August 8 by mayor; City Council voted to override the mayor's veto on August 18.  

Opponents are circulating petitions to call for a referendum on the ordinance.If the required number of valid signatures are submitted by the mid-month deadline, the effective date of the ordinance would be suspended until an election can be held in June 2016 for the voters to determine whether the ordinance should go into effect or not. 

Other Events Affecting the California Legislative Process or New Laws

In the sole scheduled gubernatorial candidates' debate on September 4, Governor Brown indicated that he expected to sign the single-use plastic bag ban (SB 270).


1 Littler will publish a more detailed article on this bill when/if signed into law. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Christopher E. Cobey
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