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California Employment Law Update: Governor Jerry Brown Signs a Number of Employment Law Bills

california-employment-law-update-governor-jerry-brown-signs-bills.jpg

Recently, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a slew of legislation that had been passed by the state Senate and Assembly. A handful of the legislation Brown signed into law includes important employment law bills, including AB 622 which bars employers from abusing the E-Verify system, and SB 358 which will aggressively close California's gender wage gap.

Below is a roundup of some key employment and labor law-related bills that Brown signed into law last week to further protect California employees from workplace discrimination, retaliation and more.

california-employment-law-update-governor-jerry-brown-signs-bills.jpg

Recently, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a slew of legislation that had been passed by the state Senate and Assembly. A handful of the legislation Brown signed into law includes important employment law bills, including AB 622 which bars employers from abusing the E-Verify system, and SB 358 which will aggressively close California's gender wage gap.

Below is a roundup of some key employment and labor law-related bills that Brown signed into law last week to further protect California employees from workplace discrimination, retaliation and more.

AB 622: E-Verify Bill

by Assembly member Roger Hernández (D - West Covina)

AB 622, the California E-Verify bill, will prevent employers from using the E-Verify system to check the employment authorization status of both existing employees and job applicants, except as required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds.

The signing of AB 622 will further California's status of being a trendsetter on immigration issues, and expand the rights of undocumented immigrant workers.

If employers are caught abusing the voluntary E-Verify system, they will now face financial and civil penalties. Employers who violate the law will pay $10,000 per violation of the bill's provisions. AB 622 will also protect undocumented immigrant workers from both discrimination and retaliation, and expand the definition of an unlawful employment practice to include instances where employers check the employment authorization status of existing employees or job applicants.

SB 588: Wage Theft Bill Targets Employers That Shortchange Workers

by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon

The "wage theft" bill will crack down on employers that decide to shortchange California workers.

SB 588 will make it easier for the state's labor commissioner to collect unpaid wages on behalf of workers. It also allows the commissioner to file liens on employers' properties to help employees collect rightful compensation.

Supporters of the bill say that wage theft typically affects low-wage workers, immigrants and women because employers sometimes pay less than the minimum wage or decide not to pay overtime.

SB 358: Gender Wage Gap

by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara)

Fair Pay Bill, SB 358, grants new tools to challenge gender-based wage gaps to female workers in California. SB 358 supporters say the bill offers the strongest equal-pay protections in the entire nation.

Surrounded by women and girls at an event at Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park in Richmond (outside of San Francisco), Gov. Brown signed the bill into law.

Brown called this legislation a "milestone."

"The stratification and the pay disparities in California and in America, probably in the world, are something that really eats away at our whole society." Brown said.

SB 358 expands California's existing equal pay law and goes further than federal law by placing the burden on the employer in which they must prove male workers' higher pay rates are based on other factors rather than gender. The bill also protects California workers from discrimination and retaliation if they decide to ask questions about how much other workers earn. SB 358 also grants workers the right to sue if they are paid less than other workers with different job titles, but who do "substantially similar" work.

SB 331: Transparency in Labor Negotiations

by Sen. Tony Mendoza, (D-Artesia)

SB 331 is a union-backed bill that responds to recent decisions by some local governments in California to reveal more details of labor negotiations.

The bill only applies to Orange County and some Los Angeles and Orange County cities that had previously adopted broader disclosure standards that call for disclosing collective bargaining proposals and counter proposals. The bill also requires these governments to make public contracts that are worth $50,000 or more which will affect numerous contracts.

SB 703: Transgender Rights

by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco)

SB 703 will expand legal protections for transgender workers in California by barring state agencies from doing business with companies that discriminate in the employee benefits they offer.

Approved last Wednesday by Jerry Brown, the bill applies to companies that do not offer the same health benefits to transgender workers that they readily provide to workers who don't identify as transgender.

Read the full list of legislation that was signed into law or vetoed on SCPR.org: Brown's signing tsunami: A rundown of bills the governor has made law this week

Are you suffering from workplace discrimination, harassment or wrongful termination? Rest assured that California employment law is on your side. Contact the passionate employment lawyers at Hennig Ruiz for a free consultation today.

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