New 2017 California Employment Laws

In 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law many important employment law-related bills that will affect California employees and employers beginning in 2017. The following summary highlights some of the new California employment laws that are set to help expand employee protections beginning January 1, 2017.

California Employment Laws Taking Effect on January 1, 2017

California Minimum Wage Increase

The enactment of SB 3 allows California’s minimum wage to increase each January until 2022 (or 2023 for companies with less than 26 employees). The minimum wage in California will be $10.50 per hour beginning January 1, 2017. SB 3 does not bar other counties or cities in California from enacting their own minimum wages that may be higher than the state’s minimum wage increase. In fact, the Los Angeles minimum wage already increased to $10.50 on July 1, 2016.

Learn more about California SB 3

California-Based Employees Can Keep Employment Disputes in California

California SB 1241 adds Section 925 to the Labor Code and limits an employer’s ability to impose choice of law and venue selection provisions on California-based workers. It ensures that employees who primarily live and work in the Golden State have the benefit of a local forum and employee protections of California law during employment disputes. This is especially helpful for employees who work for companies that are headquartered outside of California.

Learn more about California SB 1241

California Fair Employment and Housing Act Expansion

California AB 488 revises the definition of “employee” under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) which currently excludes individuals with disabilities that are granted special licenses to work at nonprofit sheltered workshops, day programs or rehabilitations facilities at less than the state minimum wage. Starting January 1, 2017, the FEHA will include these workers in the “employee” definition, and offer anti-discrimination and harassment protections to these individuals.

Learn more about California AB 488

Changes to California Overtime Laws for Farm and Ranch Workers

California AB 1066 will make California farm workers eligible for overtime pay after eight hours of work per day. Currently, agricultural workers are only eligible for overtime pay after ten hours of daily work. By 2022, all agricultural workers, including those employed at facilities with 25 employees or fewer, will be entitled to overtime pay if they work more than eight hours in a day. The measure basically phases out the current ten-hour exemption.

Learn more about California AB 1066

Equal Pay Legislation Expansion

On January 1, 2017, two new equal pay laws will expand the California Equal Pay Act. AB 1676 will amend California’s Fair Pay Act (CFPA) and make gender-related pay disparities discriminatory under law, and will prohibit California employers from requesting an applicant’s salary history to justify any pay disparities. Additionally, SB 1063 will build upon the gender-based amendments of AB 1676 to enact the strongest equal pay law in the United States. Also known as the Wage Equality Act of 2016, California SB 1063 will extend the same Fair Pay Act provisions to pay differentials relating to an employee’s ethnicity and race. Under the new law, California companies will be prohibited from paying workers wage rates that are less than the rates paid to employees who are different races or ethnicities for “substantially similar work.”

Learn more about California AB 1676
Learn more about California SB 1063

Juvenile Criminal History Removed from Employment Background Checks

California AB 1843 amends the California Labor Code to make it illegal for employers to use certain juvenile records in hiring decisions. Beginning January 1, 2017, California employers will be prohibited from asking job applicants to disclose any past juvenile convictions. But some exceptions apply, including if a job applicant is applying for a job at a health facility and the crime committed was ruled a felony or misdemeanor involving controlled substances or sex crimes.

Learn more about California AB 1843

Download this free whitepaper from CalChamber that details all the new laws taking effect in 2017.

If your employer is subjecting you to  workplace discrimination, harassment or wrongful termination, California employment law is on your side. Contact the ]California employment lawyers at Hennig Ruiz for a free consultation today.