Governor Gavin Newsom signed dozens of bills into law at the end of the 2019 legislative session. This includes 15 bills that will have an impact on the rules regarding how employers can treat their employees. As is always the case, employers should review these new laws to ensure that they remain in compliance with the state and federal laws.
Signed into law in September, AB 5’s definitions regarded contractor and employee is groundbreaking. Still, its numerous exceptions and rules regarding classifications will likely take close study by employers and their legal teams if they wish to avoid substantial fines, civil litigation and penalties in 2020. However, there are some other noteworthy bills worth highlighting.
AB 51:Employers Cannot Require Arbitration or Deny Other Employee Rights
This prohibits employers from requiring potential or current employees to sign away rights provided by the Labor Code or FEHA as a condition of employment, nor can they require using arbitration in disputes as a requirement for a job. Companies can’t discriminate against, threaten, dismiss, or retaliate against employees who do not wish to arbitrate.
AB 9: FEHA’s Statute of Limitations Extended
The window goes from one year to three years for reporting violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) with the new Stop Harassment and Reporting Extension (SHARE). This covers unlawful workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
AB 749: Settlement Agreements
This voids so-called “no-hire” provisions, although there are still if the employee faced accusations of sexual harassment or assault. The employer can also refuse to hire a worker if they were dismissed for non-discriminatory or non-retaliatory reasons.
SB 688: Unpaid Wages
Under this law, the Labor Commission has more power to cite employers for not paying wages that were contractually promised but not paid or agreed upon but below California’s minimum wage.
AB 673: Employees Can Recover Unpaid Wages
Each employee is now entitled to $100 for an employer’s failure to pay wages. This goes to $200 with subsequent violations. Employers can be fined for up to 25% of the amount that it unlawfully withheld.
These Laws Are Complicated
Lawmakers designed these laws to protect the rights of employees, but often the rules are so complicated that it hard for the average worker to understand. An employment law attorney practicing here in California can provide insights into how to hold employers accountable. Whether the violation is willful negligence or ignorance, these attorneys can help secure the money the workers deserve.