COVID-19 Laws: You probably had heard that President Biden had ordered OSHA to issue a vaccine mandate for all employers who have 100 or more employees. The OSHA order required such employees to get fully vaccinated or to by tested regularly. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal granted a motion to stay implementation of the mandate. We will need to wait for further court proceedings to determine if the court ultimately will order the mandate to proceed.
In California, SB 336 requires the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and local health officers to publish newly issued Covid health orders on their websites. The orders must include the date on which they take effect. Both CDPH and local health officers must also allow anyone interested to sign up for email notifications of updates to those orders.
California Family Rights Act (CFRA): On January 1, 2021, a new law required the CFRA leave rights to apply to employers who employed at least 5 employees. That was a dramatic expansion because, before that, the CFRA only applied to employers with 50 or more employees. The new law expanded the reasons an employee may use the 12 week unpaid leave. It allowed an employee to take leave for the employee’s own serious health condition and the serious health condition of an employee’s spouse, kids, grandkids, parents, parents-in-law (see below), grandparents, and siblings, or to bond with a baby, adopted child, or a child placed by foster care
This year AB 1033 clarifies a couple things. First, it clarifies that the leave may be used for the serious health condition of parent-in-law. Second, it strengthens the small employer (5-19 employees) mediation program by requiring an employee to enter into mediation before that employee may file a lawsuit.
Wage Theft is a Crime: AB 1003 makes employer wage theft a crime that prosecutors can charge as a misdemeanor or felony, when the theft is more than $950 for one employee. Wage theft of $2,350 for two or more employees during a 12 month period is also punishable under the new law.
Settlement Agreements: Recently, California enacted a law that prevented employers from keeping the underlying facts of a sexual harassment settlement confidential. SB 331 greatly expands the reach of that law. It outlaws confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements that prohibit a claimant from disclosing the underlying facts of any type of Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) harassment or discrimination. In other words, the claimant must be in any of the classes of employees that are protected by FEHA. The classes of employees protected under that law are: race, color, religion, religious creed, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, gender, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, genetic information, medical conditions, marital status, military status, and veteran status.
New Garment Manufacturing Laws: Under SB 602, manufacturers and “brand guarantors”, who contract out the manufacturing of clothes, will be jointly liable, with the businesses that make the clothes, for wage violations of the laborers who do the actual work. That remains true even if the laborer is far down the garment supply chain. Additionally, the laborers may not be paid at piece rate, unless a valid collective bargaining agreement allows for it. The laborers may receive up to $200 for each pay period in which they work for piece rate, in addition to any other provable damages.
Minimum Wage & Salary-For California employers with 25 or fewer employees, the minimum wage will be $14 per hour. For employers with more than 25 employees, the minimum wage will increase to $15 per hour. The state law, that implemented yearly one-dollar minimum wage increases, caps the minimum wage at $15 per hour. Accordingly, in 2023, the law will increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all employers no matter how many employees they have. However, the California legislature will probably pass minimum wage increases in the future.
In the City of San Diego, the minimum wage for all employees will be $15 per hour. Other cities in California also require a higher minimum wage than the state.
Minimum salaries required for employees to qualify as exempt are twice the state minimum wage. Accordingly, exempt employees, who work for employers who have 25 or fewer employees, must earn at least $58,240 per year ($14/hour x 2 x 2080 hours/year), and exempt employees, who work for employers who have at least 26 employees, must earn $62,400 per year ($15/hour x 2 x 2080 hours/year).
*AB means California Assembly Bill, and SB means California Senate Bill.
Employment Law Office of Ward Heinrichs
4565 Ruffner Street, Suite 207
San Diego, CA 92111