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California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) prohibits harassment and discrimination in the workplace that is based on one or more of the categories commonly protected by local, state and federal discrimination laws. On April 1, 2016, new regulations interpreting and expanding upon the statutory language go into effect. Below, we provide a summary of some of the more notable updates to the regulations.

Counting Employees to Determine Whether an Employer Is Covered

The FEHA covers “[a]ny person or individual engaged in any business or enterprise regularly employing five or more individuals, including individuals performing any service under any appointment, contract of hire or apprenticeship, express or implied, oral or written.”

The regulations explain that employers must count individuals performing work both inside and outside of California. Although individuals who encounter potential discrimination or harassment outside the state of California are not protected themselves, they are counted for the purpose of assessing whether the employer is covered under the statute. Employers must also count all individuals on paid or unpaid leave, even those who are on administrative leave because of disciplinary suspension. No individual on a leave of absence of any kind should be excluded.
Continue Reading This Is Not a Prank: California’s New Amended FEHA Regulations Are Effective April 1

Governor Brown got it right when he vetoed Assembly Bill 465, which would have restricted the enforcement of arbitration agreements requiring the arbitration of claims brought against employers for violations under the California Labor Code.  The proposed bill would have made it unlawful to use such provisions as a condition of employment.  The governor

The California legislature recently submitted a bill (AB 465) to Governor Jerry Brown that deters employers from using arbitration agreements that include a provision requiring the arbitration of claims brought against employers for violations under the California Labor Code.

AB 465 provides that any waiver of rights, penalties, remedies, forums and procedures established by the California Labor Code, including the right to file a claim with the Labor Commissioner or a civil action in court, may not be required as a condition of employment. The bill would also require that any waiver be knowing and voluntary, in writing, and expressly not made as a condition of employment. This added provision will no doubt provide another avenue for employees to challenge the waiver of Berman hearings (administrative hearings before a Deputy Labor Commissioner regarding claims of California Labor Code violations) in arbitration agreements.

Employers who seek to enforce such waivers will bear the burden of proof that they satisfied the requirements of AB 465. Employees often argue that arbitration agreements provided with offers of employment are implied conditions of such employment. Therefore, if the bill is signed into law, employers should include an express provision in their arbitration agreements that states that it is not required for employment. Otherwise, courts will likely deem signed waivers involuntary, unconscionable, against public policy and unenforceable.
Continue Reading California Legislature Pushes to Limit Employer/Employee Arbitration Agreements

The changes to employees’ rights to take leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) go into effect July 1, 2015. Your company should be prepared only if it has done the following:

  • Reviewed the changes to the CFRA regulations, which may be found here.
  • Updated your policies and employee handbooks to reflect the legal changes in CFRA eligibility, medical certification, and leave administration.
  • Trained managers, supervisors and human resources professionals on the CFRA legal changes.
  • Updated electronic and hard copy postings and notices regarding CFRA leave – ensuring they are legible; in large, easy-to-read text; with the postings in conspicuous places that can be viewed by both employees and applicants.
  • Ensured that all postings and notices are translated in any language(s) spoken by 10 percent or more of the workforce.

The amended CFRA regulations synthesize the requirements for CFRA leave with those under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to the extent there are no conflicts between the federal and state laws. Here are the key points in the revised CFRA regulations for employers:Continue Reading Is Your Company Prepared for the Changes to CFRA Leave?

A California state law that became effective January 1, 2015, substantially undermines the business decision to utilize temporary workers. A significant number of California employers who use temporary workers must now share responsibility and liability with the staffing agencies that provided these workers when claims arise under any of the following:

  • The payment of wages

Effective January 1, 2014, California’s Fair Employment & Housing Act (Gov. Code §§12940, et seq.) has been amended to push the boundaries of what counts as employment discrimination. California employers should revise all postings, employee handbooks and training materials to reflect two important changes in the law.   Continue Reading California Expands the Frontiers of Employment Discrimination–Again

New California Labor Code Section 980, restricting employer access to employees’ personal social media, goes into effect on January 1, 2013. California will become the third state, behind Maryland and Illinois, to enact a law to restrict employer access to employee and applicant social media. Continue Reading California Third State To Restrict Employer Right to Access Employee and Applicant Social Media