A number of new laws related to business and employment take effect January 1, 2017. (File Photo)
By Michael P. Neufeld
Mountain Communities – On Sunday, January 1, mountain residents and their fellow Californians will face many new laws that were approved during the 2015-16 legislative session and signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
TOMORROW: Business and Employment (Part 2)
The Democratic governor affixed his signature to a total of 898 bills. Brown also vetoed 159 bills that were submitted to him for action.
Brown allowed two laws to take effect without his signature.
Employers with 26 or more employees are reminded that on New Year’s Day the minimum wage increases to $10.50 per hour. The minimum wage for small employers remains at $10 per hour.
BUSINESS AND EMPLOYMENT
Here are a few key laws, effective in 2017, dealing with business and employment.
SENATE BILL 1001 – EMPLOYMENT: Verifying Documentation (D-Holly J. Mitchell-Los Angeles/30)
Existing law prohibits an employer or any other person from engaging in, or directing another person to engage in, an unfair immigration-related practice against a person for the purpose of or intent to retaliate against any person for exercising a protected right, as specified. Existing law defines requesting more or different documents than are required under federal law, or refusing to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine, as an unfair immigration-related practice. This bill makes it unlawful for an employer to request more or different documents than are required under federal law, to refuse to honor documents tendered that on their face reasonably appear to be genuine, to refuse to honor documents or work authorization based upon the specific status or term of status that accompanies the authorization to work, or to reinvestigate or reverify an incumbent employee’s authorization to work, as specified. The bill authorizes an applicant for employment or an employee who is subject to an unlawful act that is prohibited by these provisions, or a representative of that applicant for employment or employee, to file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The bill specifies that any person who violates these provisions shall be subject to a penalty imposed by the Labor Commissioner not exceeding $10,000, and be liable for equitable relief.
ASSEMBLY BILL 1676 – EMPLOYMENT: Discrimination (D-Nora Campos-San Jose/27)
Existing law generally prohibits an employer from paying an employee at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions. Existing law establishes exceptions to that prohibition, including, among others, where the payment is made based on any bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training, or experience. Existing law makes it a misdemeanor for an employer or other person acting either individually or as an officer, agent, or employee of another person to pay or cause to be paid to any employee a wage less than the rate paid to an employee of the opposite sex as required by these provisions, or who reduces the wages of any employee in order to comply with these provisions. Existing law also makes it a misdemeanor for an employer to refuse or neglect to comply with the above provisions of law. This bill specifies that prior salary cannot, by itself, justify any disparity in compensation under the bona fide factor exception to the above prohibition. By changing the definition of an existing crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
NOTE: Campos is no longer a member of the Assembly.
ASSEMBLY BILL 1843 – EMPLOYMENT APPLICATIONS: Criminal History (D-Mark Stone-Santa Cruz/29)
Existing law prohibits an employer, whether a public agency or private individual or corporation, from asking an applicant for employment to disclose, or from utilizing as a factor in determining any condition of employment, information concerning an arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction, or information concerning a referral or participation in, any pretrial or posttrial diversion program, except as specified. Existing law also prohibits an employer, as specified, from asking an applicant to disclose, or from utilizing as a factor in determining any condition of employment, information concerning a conviction that has been judicially dismissed or ordered sealed, except in specified circumstances. Existing law specifies that these provisions do not prohibit an employer at a health facility, as defined, from asking an applicant for a specific type of employment about arrests for certain crimes. Existing law makes it a crime to intentionally violate these provisions. This bill also prohibits an employer from asking an applicant for employment to disclose, or from utilizing as a factor in determining any condition of employment, information concerning or related to an arrest, detention, processing, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition that occurred while the person was subject to the process and jurisdiction of juvenile court law. The bill, for the purposes of the prohibitions and exceptions described above, provides that “conviction” excludes an adjudication by a juvenile court or any other court order or action taken with respect to a person who is under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court law, and would make related and conforming changes. The bill prohibits an employer at a health facility from inquiring into specific events that occurred while the applicant was subject to juvenile court law, with a certain exception, and from inquiring into information concerning or related to an applicant’s juvenile offense history that has been sealed by the juvenile court. The bill requires an employer at a health facility seeking disclosure of juvenile offense history under that exception to provide the applicant with a list describing offenses for which disclosure is sought. Because this bill modifies the scope of a crime, it would impose a state-mandated local program.
ASSEMBLY BILL 2535 – WAGE STATEMENTS: Exempt Employees (D-Sebastian Ridley-Thomas-Los Angeles/54)
Existing law requires an employer to provide his or her employee an accurate itemized statement in writing containing specified information, either semimonthly or at the time the employer pays the employee his or her wages. That specified information includes showing total hours worked by the employee, unless the employee’s compensation is solely based on a salary and the employee is exempt from payment of overtime under a specified statute or any applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission. This bill additionally exempts from that requirement for information on total work hours an employee exempt from payment of minimum wage and overtime under specified statutes or any applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission.
ASSEMBLY BILL 2899 – MINIMUM WAGE: Violations (D-Roger Hernandez-West Covina/48)
Under existing law, any employer or other person acting either individually or as an officer, agent, or employee of another person, who pays or causes to be paid to any employee a wage less than the minimum fixed by applicable state or local law or an order of the Industrial Welfare Commission, is subject to a civil penalty, restitution of wages, liquidated damages payable to the employee, and any applicable specified penalties, as provided. Existing law provides notice and hearing requirements under which a person against whom a citation has been issued can request a hearing to contest proposed assessment of a civil penalty, wages, liquidated damages, and any applicable penalties. Existing law further provides that after a hearing with the Labor Commissioner, a person contesting a citation may file a writ of mandate, within 45 days, with the appropriate superior court. This bill requires a person seeking a writ of mandate contesting the Labor Commissioner’s ruling to post a bond with the Labor Commissioner, as specified, in an amount equal to the unpaid wages assessed under the citation, excluding penalties. The bill requires that the bond be issued in favor of the unpaid employees and ensure that the person seeking the writ makes prescribed payments pursuant to the proceedings. The bill provides that the proceeds of the bond, sufficient to cover the amount owed, would be forfeited to the employee if the employer fails to pay the amounts owed within 10 days from the conclusion of the proceedings, as specified.
NOTE: Roger Hernandez is no longer a member of the Assembly.