Earlier this week I attended Restaurant Day at the State Capitol with the California Restaurant Association. It is great to work with restaurant owners and operators in communicating the issues and realities of running a business in California. If you have never participated in meeting with your local, state, or federal legislator, I highly recommend doing so. It is a great learning experience, and even though the legislator may not agree with your position, it is a great process to engage your representative and to support your positions. Given the recent experience, this Friday’s Five focuses on five proposed bills on employment that California businesses must be aware of (and a link at the bottom on how to contact your state representative):
1. AB 2841 (Gonzalez Fletcher) proposes to increase paid sick leave from 24 hours/3 days to 40 hours/5days of paid time off.
California currently requires employers to provide at least 24 hours/three days of paid sick leave to employees (click here for a prior article about California’s paid sick leave requirements). This proposed bill would increase the amount of paid sick leave days to 5 days/40 hours of paid sick leave. Also, don’t forget about local county and city requirements that may differ from the state requirement.
2. AB 2613 (Burk) proposes to make employers and officers personally liable for additional penalties for wage violations.
The bill proposes to make employers and their officers personally liable for an additional penalty of $200 per employee, per pay period for wages that are not paid on time. The bill makes it clear that these proposed penalties “are in addition to, and entirely independent and apart from, any other damages or penalties provided for under this code.”
3. AB 2069 (Bonta) proposes to make medical marijuana card holders a protected class under the Fair Employment and Housing Act
This proposed bill would make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person if the discrimination is based upon the person’s status as a qualified patient or person with an identification card entitled to the protections of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 or the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
The bill makes the medical use of marijuana a protected disability under state law: “When used to treat a known physical or mental disability or known medical condition, the medical use of cannabis by a qualified patient or person with an identification card, as those terms are defined in Section 11362.7 of the Health and Safety Code, shall be subject to reasonable accommodation, including the use of the interactive process.”
Many employers are concerned that providing protections to employees who use marijuana will lead to safety issues at work whereby employees under the influence hurt other employees, customers, or by standards. Currently, the use of marijuana is not a protected category, as it is still illegal to use under federal law.
4. AB 3080 (Gonzalez Fletcher) proposes to ban employers from restricting employees from disclosing any sexual harassment settlements and bars the use of arbitration agreements in the employment context.
AB 3080 would prohibit employers from entering into contracts that do not allow the employee from disclosing “an instance of sexual harassment that the employee “suffers, witnesses, or discovers in the workplace.”
The bill also prohibits the use of mandatory arbitration agreements in the workplace. Many employers are utilizing arbitration agreements as a quicker and less costly method of resolving workplace disputes. The bill, in its current form, would still allow the use of voluntary arbitration agreements. However, opponents to the bill argue that banning the use of arbitration agreements would run afoul of the Federal Arbitration Act, would be preempted by this federal law.
5. SB 1284 (Jackson) proposes to require companies to disclose pay data reports to the state.
SB 1284 would require employers with 100 or more employees to submit a pay data report to the Department of Industrial Relations. The report would need to include information such as the number of employees by race, ethnicity, and sex listed by their job categories, and the number of employees “whose annual earnings fall within each of the pay bands used by the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Occupation Employment Statistics survey.”
There are other employment law bills being debated, but I thought these were the top five that employers should be aware of as of April 2018. Please check back for updates.