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)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), requiring employers with 50-500 employees[1] 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

On September 17, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 1383 (SB-1383), which significantly expands employee eligibility for family and medical leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

The law, which will go into effect January 1, 2021, reduces the number of employees required for an employer to be covered under the CFRA and also expands the reasons why employees may take these leaves.

Currently, private employers with 50 or more employees working in a 75-mile radius are required to provide employees with leave under the CFRA, while private employers with 20 or more employees are required to provide limited leave time for baby bonding pursuant to the New Parent Leave Act (NPLA).

SB 1383 expands the leave entitlement to cover smaller employers, requiring employers with five or more employees to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for a qualifying reason. Qualifying reasons include:

  • Leave for the birth of a child of the employee or the placement of a child with an employee in connection with the adoption or foster care of the child by the employee;
  • Leave to care for a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner who has a serious health condition;
  • Leave because of an employee’s own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of that employee, except for leave taken for disability on account of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions;
  • Leave because of a qualifying exigency related to the covered active duty or call to covered active duty of an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent in the Armed Forces of the United States;

This list of qualifying reasons further expands leave entitlement beyond what employers are required to provide under the current CFRA and NPLA. Under SB 1383, qualified employees will be entitled to take leave to care for the serious health condition of a grandparent, grandchild, or sibling in addition to the current requirement covering an employee’s parent, child, and spouse or domestic partner.

Continue Reading California expands Family Care and Medical Leave eligibility

On June 18, 2020, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued guidance mandating that face coverings be worn state-wide. While several California counties and cities have passed local laws requiring face coverings over the past few months, state public health officials had only previously recommended the use of face coverings.

Face covering requirements

People in California must wear face coverings when:

  • Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space;
  • Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank;
  • Waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle;
  • Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when:
    • Interacting in-person with any member of the public;
    • Working in any space visited by members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;
    • Working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
    • Working in or walking through common areas, such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities;
    • In any room or enclosed area where other people (except for members of the person’s own household or residence) are present when unable to physically distance.
  • Driving or operating any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-sharing vehicle when passengers are present. When no passengers are present, face coverings are strongly recommended.
  • While outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible.


Continue Reading California now requires face coverings in public

On May 6, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-62-20, which dramatically expands workers’ compensation eligibility for employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19, as part of his continued plan to create a robust safety net for California workers. The Order creates a rebuttable presumption that employees who test positive for or are diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days of performing work at their place of employment contracted the virus while at work.

To be entitled to this presumption, an employee must show: (1) the employee was diagnosed with or tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of performing work at the employee’s place of employment and under the employer’s direction; (2) the work day at issue was on or after March 19, 2020; (3) the place of employment at issue was not the employee’s place of residence; and (4) when the employee was diagnosed with COVID-19, the diagnosis was done by a California board-certified physician and confirmed by further testing within 30 days of the initial diagnosis.

Continue Reading California Executive Order expands workers’ compensation eligibility for employees diagnosed with COVID-19

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a substantial impact on the U.S. workplace. We have prepared a series of FAQs compiled based on some of the more common questions that clients with California-based employees have posed to us over roughly the past six weeks.

These FAQs are general and high-level

As we have previously reported, several states, including New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, now require employees, customers and/or the public to wear face coverings.  As we have also written about, in other states, like California, local governments are leading the way.  For example, Bay Area counties Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, and Contra Costa all require face coverings to some degree.  Since then, additional California municipalities have also joined, including San Bernardino, Riverside, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Carson, Inglewood, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Pasadena.  Links to our prior publications on these location-specific mandates can be found below.

Other states and municipalities continue to follow suit.  As of April 17, employees of essential businesses in Hawaii must wear face coverings.  On April 18, Maryland established a similar requirement for employees, as well as customers over nine years of age. Like California, in states that are not currently requiring face coverings, some local governments have taken the initiative to establish their own requirements.  For example, in Illinois, Cicero, Glenview, Highland Park, Morton Grove, Niles, Skokie and Wilmette have each implemented some type of face covering requirement.  Municipalities in other states that have joined the movement include Laredo, Texas; Miami, Florida; Northampton, Massachusetts; and Chickasaw, Oklahoma.
Continue Reading Employers must face it: Face covering requirements growing across states and municipalities

On July 3, California became the first state to pass legislation that bans discrimination based on natural hairstyles. Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair). The CROWN Act amends the state’s Government Code and Education Code to define “race or ethnicity” as “inclusive of traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” The new law expressly protects hairstyles including, but not limited to, “braids, locks, and twists.” Governor Newsom called the law “long overdue.” The bill passed unanimously in the senate and the assembly, and takes effect on January 1, 2020.

Continue Reading New York and California ban discrimination against natural hair