On May 23, 2022, the California Supreme Court handed down its decision in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services. The decision discusses the penalties recoverable by employees for an employer’s alleged failure to pay meal and rest period premiums where a proper meal or rest period is not provided. The Naranjo Plaintiffs filed a putative class action lawsuit alleging that his employer failed to provide meal and rest periods or premium compensation in lieu thereof as required by California law. In addition to premium pay for meal and rest periods, Plaintiffs also brought derivative claims alleging failure to timely pay wages at termination and failure to provide accurate wage statements. Specifically, Plaintiffs argued that because meal and rest period premiums were not paid, they also were not timely paid all wages due at termination and their wage statements were invalid because they did not reflect the premiums that were not paid.Continue Reading California Supreme Court rules additional penalties may be recoverable for meal and rest period violations
On October 10, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom approved Senate Bill 331 which, effective January 1, 2022, significantly expands restrictions relating to non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions in many settlement and separation agreements.
First, Senate Bill 331 expands the existing prohibitions on non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions in settlement agreements. Existing law, under section 1001 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, already prohibits settlement agreements from having non-disclosure or non-disparagement provisions that prevent the disclosure of facts relating to a claim filed in a civil or administrative action regarding sex-based claims, including sex-based discrimination, sexual harassment, or related retaliation. Effective January 1, 2022, this amendment expands the prohibition on non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions that prevent the disclosure of facts relating to a claim, outside of sex-based claims, to include discrimination, harassment, or retaliation claims based on any protected category under section 12940 of the Government Code, such as race, religion, national origin, and disability.
Continue Reading California expands restrictions on non-disclosure provisions
A split Ninth Circuit panel vacated a 2020 preliminary injunction that blocked the enforcement of California’s A.B. 51, which prohibits mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts. If the majority decision stands, it will mean that California employers can no longer require their employees or new hires to sign arbitration agreements (among other types of waivers)…
On July 26, 2021, President Biden announced that individuals with long COVID (referred to as COVID long-haulers) could be protected under several federal civil rights laws, including the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
While some individuals fully recover from COVID, others experience debilitating symptoms that last long after first developing COVID-19 (long COVID), including extreme…
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently enacted an urgency ordinance that requires employers to provide supplemental paid leave of up to four hours per injection for employees working in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine. The Employee Paid Leave for Expanded Vaccine Access Ordinance (the Ordinance) is effective retroactively to January 1, 2021 and will remain in effect until August 31, 2021.
Covered employers and eligible employees
The Ordinance applies to all employers who have employees working in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. The Ordinance establishes a presumption that a worker is an employee and the employer bears the burden to demonstrate that a worker is a bona fide independent contractor, and thus not entitled to any benefits under the Ordinance.
Covered employers must provide “COVID-19 Vaccine Leave” to eligible employees to:
- Travel to and from a COVID-19 vaccine appointment;
- Receive the COVID-19 vaccine injection; and
- Recover from any symptoms related to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine that prevent the employees from being able to work or telework.
Eligible employees are those who: 1) work in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County; and 2) have exhausted all available leave time under California’s 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law, codified as Labor Code section 248.2. In other words, because Labor Code section 248.2 already requires employers to provide up to 80 hours of paid leave to employees for the same reasons as the Ordinance, employees must first use all available paid leave provided by Labor Code section 248.2 before they are eligible for paid leave under the Ordinance.
Continue Reading It pays to be vaccinated in Los Angeles County with new paid leave ordinance
On March 19, 2021, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 95 (SB 95), which creates, in part, new Labor Code Section 248.2. As a reminder, Governor Newsom previously signed AB 1867, which added Labor Code sections 248 and 248.1 to provide COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave to food sector workers and employees who worked for employers with 500 plus employees nationwide, respectively. Those requirements expired on December 30, 2020.
Section 248.2 provides covered employees with up to 80 new hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL). SPSL is sick leave in addition to paid sick leave employers are already required to provide under the Health Workplaces, Healthy Families Act. This new requirement goes into effect on March 29, 2021 (although, as discussed below, leave provided on or after January 1, 2021 may be applied retroactively) and expires on September 30, 2021, unless otherwise extended. The Labor Commissioner has already published FAQs for Labor Code section 248.2 here.Continue Reading California requires new COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave in 2021
As of January 2021, providing FFCRA paid leave is optional. Employers choosing to provide FFCRA Paid Leave to their employees on a voluntary basis can now receive a payroll tax credit to cover the wages paid through September 30, 2021 (subject to applicable caps).
Last year, in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which mandated that most employers with fewer than 500 employees provide their workers with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19 related reasons. In doing so, employers received payroll tax credits for providing the paid leave. FFCRA’s mandate ended on December 31, 2020.
Congress extended the FFCRA through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to March 31, 2021 on a voluntary basis to those employers who provided paid leave to qualified employees. Employers voluntarily providing paid leave could continue to receive a tax credit for the wages. On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law another COVID-19 federal stimulus package, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The ARPA extends the FFCRA and the employer tax credits through September 30, 2021 on a voluntary basis. The ARPA also adds qualifying reasons for paid leave.Continue Reading Congress extends payroll tax credits to employers voluntarily providing FFCRA paid leave and expands leave provisions
Recently the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) released guidance stating that employers generally may require their employees to receive a Food and Drug Administration approved vaccination against COVID-19. Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), an employer may implement a mandatory vaccination policy so long as the employer:
- Does not discriminate against or harass employees or job applicants on the basis of a protected characteristic;
- Provides reasonable accommodations related to disability or sincerely-held religious beliefs or practices; and
- Does not retaliate against anyone for engaging in protected activity (such as requesting a reasonable accommodation).
On February 25, 2021, the California Supreme Court decided Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC (Donohue). In that case, the court held that (1) employers cannot round time in the meal period context and (2) time records showing noncompliant meal periods raise a rebuttable presumption of a meal period violation. Accordingly, the court’s decision has significant implications for employers who rely on time keeping systems that round time during employee meal breaks.
California’s meal period laws are governed primarily by California Labor Code section 512 and the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 4. Pursuant to these regulations, an employee is entitled to a 30 minute meal break no later than the end of the fifth hour of work and another 30 minute meal break no later than the end of the tenth hour of work. An employer must provide the opportunity for a compliant meal period, but need not police it. If an employee voluntarily chooses not to take a meal break, then there is no meal period violation. However, if an employer fails to provide a compliant meal break and an employee does not voluntarily waive it, then the employer must provide that employee a premium pay, or one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday a meal period is not provided. To avoid such penalties, an employer must provide its employees with complete and timely meal breaks whenever required by law.
Continue Reading California Supreme Court rejects rounding time for meal breaks
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), requiring employers with 50-500 employees to provide supplemental paid sick leave and paid family leave to their employees, and California’s statewide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave requirement expired on December 31, 2020. While employers may voluntarily continue to provide FFCRA and receive tax credits through March 31, 2021, the FFCRA mandates are now voluntary for employers to continue absent federal legislative action. Despite this, numerous California counties and cities have extended their COVID-19 paid sick leave ordinances and imposed additional requirements for employers. To date, these include: Los Angeles (City and County), City of Long Beach, Sacramento (City and County), San Francisco, City of Oakland, San Mateo County, Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, and San Jose.
City of Los Angeles. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently revised an order requiring an employer to provide COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) if it has 500 or more employees in the city or 2,000 or more employees nationally. The February 10, 2021 revised order expanded coverage and provides SPSL benefits to employees employed with the same employer for 60 days, and expanded coverage to employees hired on or after March 5, 2020. Most importantly, the revised order mandates that employers calculate SPSL based on the employee’s respective two-week average pay over the last 60 days of employment. The order remains in effect until two calendar weeks after the expiration of the County of Los Angeles local emergency period.
Continue Reading Brief refresher for California employers: 2021 updates to local COVID-19 paid sick leave requirements