There have been a number of recent developments in California employment law in the past year. The following legislation may impact small businesses. We have highlighted each below:
- AB 10 raised the minimum wage from $8.00 to $9.00 per hour – effective on July 1, 2014 – with a further increase to $10.00 per hour effective on January 1, 2016. This bill also affects exempt employees by requiring that they be paid a monthly salary of at least twice the minimum wage for full-time employment. That means employers must pay exempt employees at least $2,733.33 per month currently, $3,120 per month starting July 1, 2014, and $3,466.67 per month starting January 1, 2016.
- SB 462 limits the recovery of attorney’s fees by a prevailing employer in an action for nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits or health and welfare or pension fund contributions unless the employee is found to have acted in bad faith. This makes it extremely difficult for prevailing employers to recover in these cases.
- SB 770 expanded California’s temporary disability program to allow up to six weeks of partially compensated time to care for a seriously ill grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law.
- SB 292 amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act’s definition of sexual harassment to include the following language: “Sexually harassing conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire.” SB 292 is most relevant in same-sex sexual harassment cases but applies to all future sexual harassment claims.
- SB 400 extends employment protections to victims of stalking, domestic abuse or sexual assault. The legislation prohibits an employer from taking any adverse action against the employee-victim due to the employee taking time off to handle any issues resulting from their victimization. An employer must also provide “reasonable accommodations” for an employee-victim which may include safety measures or special procedures. Any employee that is discriminated or retaliated against as a result of taking time off as described above is eligible for reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and benefits.
Though these bills are not specific to the financial services industry, it is important for employers to remain aware of the new requirements to avoid a gap in compliance when they go into effect.