December 16, 2021
With each passing year the legislature changes the rules by which businesses must operate in California. 2021 has been no different. This post covers other recent law changes affecting how business operators conduct themselves. Business owners across the State of California should start contemplating their approach to dealing with and complying with these significant new requirements. All new laws go into effect January 1, 2022 unless otherwise noted.
This legislation was enacted supplemental to 2020’s SB 1383, which expanded CFRA to cover small employers and the bill expanded the definition of family member for whom the leave could be taken. Under AB 1033 care for a parent- in- law with a serious health condition was included. Under AB 1033 the employer must grant eligible employees up to 12 weeks of job-protected time off from work annually for the purpose of providing care to a parent-in-law with a serious medical condition.
AB 1033 also changes procedural aspects for mediating CFRA disputes between small businesses (five to 19 employees) and its employees. In 2020, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) established a small employer mediation pilot program for CFRA disputes to avoid costly litigation. Under this pilot program, small businesses may request to participate in mediation after receiving a right-to-sue letter (“notice”) from the DFEH within 30 days of receipt of or obtaining the notice. Further, small businesses may stay a civil lawsuit or arbitration proceeding to pursue mediation if it pertains to CFRA violations and subject to the pilot program.
The bill also makes intentional theft of wages, benefits or compensation in amount greater than $950 for one employee or more than $2,350 for two or more employees in a consecutive twelve- month period punishable as grand theft under the California Penal Code.
SB 6060 created two new violations categories for which Cal/OSHA can issue citations and expands the enforcement authority of Cal/OSHA. These are “enterprise-wide” violations and “egregious” violations. Under the “enterprise-wide” violation a violation committed by an employer with multiple worksites is “enterprise wide” if the if the employer has a written policy or procedure that violates certain safety rules or Cal/OSHA has evidence of a pattern or practice. If the employer fails to rebut presumption Cal/OSHA may issue an “enterprise-wide”” citation requiring appeasement. These citations will carry the same penalties as repeated or willful citation, which amounts up to $134, 334 per violation.
If Cal/OSHA believes an employer has willfully and egregiously violated an occupational safety or health standard, order, special order or regulation based on factors listed in the statute, the division musty issue a citation for an egregious violation.
This bill expands on previous laws that limits the ability to use confidentiality clauses in severance and settlement agreements. SB 331 allows acts of workplace harassment or discrimination based on any characteristic protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act to be brought in settlement agreements. Previously, any settlement agreement in a case where sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination based on sex had been alleged could not include a confidentiality provision prohibiting disclosure of information regarding the claim.
Employers can still use clauses that prevent the disclosure of the amount paid to settle the claim.
AB 701 requires covered employers to provide each nonexempt employee working at a warehouse distribution center a written description of each quota to which they are subject, including tasks to be performed, materials produced or handled, time periods and any potential adverse employment actions that may result from failure to meet quotas.
Under the bill employees cannot be required to meet quotas that prevent compliance with meal or rest periods, use of bathroom facilities, or health and safety laws.
An employer must produce a copy of applicable quotas and the last 90 days of their personal work speed performance if the employee feels the quotas are interfering with anything and they request a copy.
AB 701 creates a rebuttable presumption of retaliation if the employer takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of the employees request for their quota and personal work speed performance or an employee’s complaint about a quota.
The bill applies to certain larger employers meeting industry definitions for General Warehousing and Storage, Merchant Wholesalers (Durable and Non-Durable Goods), and Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses.
This bill expands on SB 275, which established a state stockpile of PPE in the event of a pandemic. AB 73 broadens the scope of the law to include wildfire smoke events as a health emergency and includes agricultural workers in the definition of essential workers. It also requires Cal/OSHA to review and update wildfire smoke training.
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