California Employment Beat

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

It’s that time of the year again! The deadline for California Governor Gavin Newsom to sign, approve without signing, or veto bills on his desk was October 10, 2021. Now that the dust has settled, we have compiled a comprehensive list of bills signed by the governor that will impact employers. We also highlight bills

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)

In Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC, the California Supreme Court departed from the longstanding view that non-exempt employees’ meal and rest break premiums are paid at the employee’s base hourly rate, rather than the employee’s regular rate of pay used to calculate overtime pay. Instead, the Court held that the phrase “regular rate

Background

Sonoma County (the County) initially enacted Ordinance No. 6320 on August 18, 2020 to provide COVID-19 related paid sick leave to employees not covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) in the unincorporated areas of the County. Ordinance No. 6320 expired on December 31, 2020, however, because its expiration date was tied to the FFCRA.  On January 26, 2021, the County extended Ordinance No. 6320 until June 30, 2021.

On February 9, 2021, the County enacted Ordinance No. 6336, which required all employers in the unincorporated areas of the County to allow their employees to use up to 80 hours of any unused paid leave benefits previously furnished to employees in 2020 for various COVID-19 sick purposes and/or for the care of the employee’s immediate family member whose senior care provider or whose school or childcare provider was closed or was unavailable due to COVID-19 reasons.

Continue Reading Sonoma County passes emergency paid sick leave ordinance

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:

  1. Travel to and from a COVID-19 vaccine appointment;
  2. Receive the COVID-19 vaccine injection; and
  3. 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

In a split 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s order preliminarily enjoining enforcement of California’s Assembly Bill (AB) 5 in California Trucking Association et al. v. Bonta (CTA). If this ruling is not appealed, AB 5, which is chaptered in the California Labor Code under 2750.3, will no longer be enjoined from applying to companies in the trucking industry.

In 2019, the California legislature enacted AB 5 to codify the California Supreme Court’s decision in Dynamex West Operations, Inc. v. Superior Court (2018). In Dynamex, the Court judicially adopted the “ABC test” for employers to pass before classifying a worker as an independent contractor. Prior to the Dynamex ruling, courts applied the multi-factor Borello balancing test to determine the status of a worker.

Over 30 states now apply the ABC test. Subject to some statutory exemptions, in California, the law provides that a worker is presumed to be an employee unless: (a) the worker is free from control and direction of the hiring entity under both in practice and under contract; and (b) the worker performs work outside of the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and (c) the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature of the work performed.

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit reverses preliminary injunction: California’s independent contractor law applies to motor carriers

UPDATE on May 20, 2021: Since this article was published, Cal/OSHA has delayed the vote on the new proposed Emergency Temporary Standards. Please read details on the delayed vote on the Reed Smith EHS Law Insights Blog.


As vaccination rates increase in California, the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) has released a draft of a new proposed COVID-19 emergency regulation. The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board will vote on whether to send the proposed regulation to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on May 20th. After it is received, the OAL is only required to allow five calendar days for submission of comments and 10 calendar days for review before filing with the Secretary of State. Given this timeline, it is likely that the new regulations will become effective in early June.

The new COVID-19 emergency regulations loosen a number of the prior requirements for fully vaccinated workers. The new COVID-19 emergency regulations, however, also add a number of new compliance requirements for employers. In that regard, the new proposed regulation contains many important changes to how face coverings and N-95 masks must be used, testing and exposure requirements, and the prior exclusion and wage replacement rules. The key changes in these areas are briefly summarized below:
Continue Reading Cal-OSHA released proposed revisions to the COVID-19 prevention order

On March 19, 2021, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 95 (SB 95), which creates, in part, new Labor Code Section 248.2.[1] 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

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:

  1. Does not discriminate against or harass employees or job applicants on the basis of a protected characteristic;
  2. Provides reasonable accommodations related to disability or sincerely-held religious beliefs or practices; and
  3. Does not retaliate against anyone for engaging in protected activity (such as requesting a reasonable accommodation).


Continue Reading The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing blesses employers’ use of mandatory vaccination policies