Employment Law Blog

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Oct 10, 2014

CALIFORNIA: Governor signs more 2014 legislation

Employee BenefitsWage and Hour 

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed more bills into law from the 2013-2014 regular legislative session.

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed more bills into law from the 2013-2014 regular legislative session. Here is a summary of the employment-related bills that have the greatest impact on employers. Unless otherwise indicated, they take effect on January 1, 2015. Remember that as with most laws, there are often exceptions to the rules, which can be found in more detail in the links to the texts of the bills.

  • National Origin Discrimination and Driver’s Licenses (AB 1660): The definition of national origin discrimination is expanded to make it a violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for an employer to discriminate against workers because they cannot prove to the DMV that they are legally authorized to be in the U.S. under federal law. It is also a violation to require a worker to present a driver’s license unless it is actually needed for the job.
  • Recovery of Wages and Liquidated Damages (AB 2074): A suit for liquidated damages may be filed at any time before the expiration of the statute of limitations for bringing the underlying action alleging payment of less than the state minimum wage, thus allowing employees to recover damages more quickly for wage and hour violations.
  • Penalties for Willful Failure to Pay Wages (AB 1723): The Labor Commissioner’s authority is expanded to issue waiting time penalties during the citation process for willful failure to pay wages of a resigned or discharged employee.
  • Protection of Unpaid Interns (AB 1443): The anti-harassment and anti-discrimination protections of the Fair Employment and Housing Act are extended to unpaid interns.
  • Contest Denial of Unemployment Benefits (SB 1314): The amount of time to contest the denial of unemployment benefits will increase from 20 to 30 days, effective July 1, 2015.
  • Labor Contractor and Client Employer Responsibility (AB 1897): Client employers and labor contractors shall share all civil liability and civil legal responsibility for payment of wages and workers’ compensation to workers supplied by a labor contractor.
  • Recovery Periods as Hours Worked (SB 1360): Recovery periods (cool down periods to prevent heat illness) must be counted as hours worked, with no deduction from wages.
  • Fair Chance Employment Act (AB 1650): Any person submitting a bid to the state on a contract involving onsite construction-related services must certify that the person will not ask applicants about their conviction history on or at the time of an initial employment application. However, employers that are hiring for positions that are required by state or federal law to conduct conviction or criminal history background checks are excluded from coverage.
  • Health Care Coverage Waiting Periods (SB 1034): Small employer health care service plan contracts and health insurance policies are required to provide notice to inform eligible employees that they may be excluded from eligibility for coverage until the next open enrollment period.
  • Prevailing wages: Several different bills made changes to prevailing wage laws for state-funded construction projects. The changes included a new allocation method for apprenticeship contributions (AB 1870); the ability for contractors to recover increased legal costs when a project is determined to be subject to prevailing wage (AB 1939); expansion of the definition of “public works” to include infrastructure project grants from the California Advanced Services Fund (AB 2272); the ability for the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to demand wages and penalties for failure to comply with apprenticeship requirements (AB 2744); and the tolling of the time period for the Labor Commissioner to serve civil wage and penalty assessments until the awarding agency notifies the Commissioner that the public works project is complete (SB 266).

Tips: Make sure to review and update your employment practices as appropriate in light of these new laws. Questions? Contact your Vigilant employment attorney.

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