United States: All Over But The Penning: The California Legislature Completes Its Work For 2015

Last Updated: September 15 2015
Article by Christopher E. Cobey

The California Legislature adjourned its 2015 regular session early last Saturday morning. It is now up to Governor Brown to sign or veto the last of the Legislature's 2015 work product. He has until Sunday, October 11, to do so.

Since our last update, here is what has happened on the major remaining employment bills affecting California private-sector employers:

Signed by the Governor

  • SB 432 deletes the term "alien" from the Labor Code, which was defined as any person who is not born in, or is a fully naturalized citizen of, the United States, and also deletes a prescribed order for the issuance of employment under public works contracts in the limited instance of extraordinary unemployment.
  • SB 730 prohibits a freight train from being operated in California unless it has a crew consisting of at least two individuals.

Awaiting Action by the Governor

  • AB 219 expands the definition of "public works" to include the hauling and delivery of ready-mixed concrete, provides that the entity hauling or delivering ready-mixed concrete shall be considered a subcontractor solely for the purposes of a specified chapter of the code, and provides that the bill applies to public works contracts that are awarded on or after July 1, 2016.
  • AB 305 prohibits permanent disability apportionment of workers' compensation benefits if pregnancy or menopause is contemporaneous with the injured worker's claimed injury. This bill also requires that breast cancer not be less than the comparable impairment rating for prostate cancer.
  • AB 326 extends the sunset date on the exemption that allows volunteers to perform work on public works projects and not be paid the prevailing wage, as would otherwise be required.
  • AB 465 prohibits mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements as a condition of hire or continued employment.
  • AB 561 creates an expedited process to enforce monetary penalties ordered by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) and also requires agricultural employers to post a bond if they wish to appeal a final order in the amount equal to the economic value of the monetary penalties.
  • AB 578 requires an applicant for a temporary or permanent variance from an occupational safety and health standard to give notice to affected workers (or their representatives) at the place of employment.
  • AB 621 creates the Motor Carrier Employer Amnesty program for port drayage companies that voluntarily execute a settlement agreement with the Labor Commissioner related to misclassification of employees.
  • AB 622 expands the definition of an unlawful employment practice to prohibit an employer or any other person or entity from using the E-Verify system at a time or in a manner not required by federal law or not authorized by a federal agency memorandum of understanding to check the employment authorization status of an existing employee or an applicant who has not received an offer of employment, as specified. This bill provides for a civil penalty of $10,000 for each violation of the provisions of the bill.
  • AB 676 prohibits an employer from: (1) publishing an advertisement or announcement for a job that includes a provision stating or indicating that an unemployed person is not eligible; and (2) asking an applicant to disclose the applicant's employment status until the employer has determined that he/she meets the minimum employment qualifications for the position.
  • AB 852 specifies that "public work" for purposes of prevailing wage law also means any construction, alteration, demolition, installation, or repair work done under private contract on a general acute care hospital when the project is paid for in whole or in part with the proceeds of conduit revenue bonds issued by a public agency.
  • AB 908 increases the level and duration of benefits provided in the Paid Family Leave insurance program.
  • AB 970 authorizes the Labor Commissioner to issue a citation to enforce local minimum wage and overtime laws, as well as against an employer or person acting on behalf of an employer for violations of existing law related to reimbursements for expenses.
  • AB 1017 prohibits the use and release of employee salary history information, as specified, including demanding disclosure of it from an employment applicant.
  • AB 1354 enacts the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act of 2015 and requires an employer with 100 or more employees in the state and a contract of 30 days or more, prior to becoming a contractor or subcontractor with the state, to submit a nondiscrimination program to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and to submit periodic reports, no more than annually, of its compliance with that program.
  • AB 1506 amends the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) to provide an employer with the right to cure a violation of failing to provide its employees with a wage statement containing the inclusive dates of the pay period and the name and address of the legal entity that is the employer.
  • AB 1509 extends current employment retaliation protections to an employee who is a family member of a person who engaged in, or is perceived to have engaged in, legally protected conduct. This bill also exempts household goods carriers from the client employer and labor contractor liability provisions in the law.
  • AB 1513 clarifies the statutory requirements for piece-rate compensation, and provides an affirmative defense and safe harbor for employers that, by December 15, 2016, fully compensate their employees, as specified, for all under-compensated or uncompensated rest periods, recovery periods, or unproductive time between July 1, 2012 and December 31, 2015.
  • SB 406 was amended (on the last day to do so) to delete a key component that would have made the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) applicable to employers of 25 or more (as opposed to the current 50 or more) employees. The bill expands various provisions of law related to unpaid family and medical leave under the CFRA.
  • SB 358 significantly expands employees' rights and options under California's equal pay statute related to gender wage inequality. The Governor's staff has indicated he will sign this bill – a rare public commitment in advance by the Governor.
  • SB 579 expands on the currently authorized reasons for which an employee can take job-protected time off from work without the fear of discrimination or discharge under the Family School Partnership Act by allowing workers to take time off work to: (1) find, enroll, or reenroll his or her child in a school or with a licensed child care provider; and (2) to address a child care provider or school emergency, as defined.
  • SB 588 authorizes the Labor Commissioner to file a lien or levy on an employer's property in order to assist an employee in collecting unpaid wages where there is a judgment against the employer, and contains related provisions.
  • SB 667 extends the duration of the "disability benefit period" with respect to state disability insurance from 14 days to 60 days.

Vetoed

  • AB 272 provides that a person deputized or appointed by the proper authority as a peace officer including, but not limited to, a person who is deputized or appointed as a reserve deputy sheriff or a reserve city police officer, is an employee of the appointing authority for purposes of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).1

Dead for Now (Resurrection Candidates for 2016)

  • SB 3 would have increased the statewide minimum wage to $11 per hour starting January 1, 2016, and $13 per hour starting July 1, 2017; beginning in January 1, 2019, would have required the minimum wage to be increased annually based on inflation as measured by the California Consumer Price Index (CCPI).
  • AB 67 would have enacted the Double Pay on the Holiday Act of 2015, which would have required an employer to pay at least two times the regular rate of pay to an employee for work on a family holiday, as defined.
  • AB 357 would have enacted the Fair Scheduling Act of 2015 to provide predictable work schedules to covered employees. This is patterned on, and has one of the co-authors of, the San Francisco ordinance passed in 2014 on this topic.2

We will publish our annual summary of 2015 legislation affecting California private-sector employers, and conduct a complimentary webinar on the new laws, the week of October 11, 2015.

Footnotes

1. The bill passed both houses and committees by a combined vote of 151-0, and had no known opposition.

2. See Michael Brewer, Christopher Cobey, and Jason Shapiro, San Francisco Ordinance Imposes New Burdens on 'Formula' Retail Employers, Littler Insight (Dec. 9, 2014).

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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