New Laws in California

new laws

With each new year, new laws come to fruition from rulings and voting propositions of the previous year. Some of these new laws take several years to come into law because they need to be implemented in portions.

Expanding the minimum wage increase, made possible by the new laws, is going to aggressively change the California employment landscape. Not only are wages going to rise steeply over the next few years, but along with it, experts say costs of goods and services are going to skyrocket.

The enactment of the bill has two subset laws that will be going into place at different times. The two calendars increments are as follows: one for organizations with 25 or fewer employees and one for those with more than 25 workers. The state has posted a Fact Sheet in regards to the planned increments that employers can easily look up and learn more about to stay compliant.


Employee Restrooms

Starting March 1, 2017, organizations are disallowed from naming any “single-client bathroom office” as either “male” or “female.” AB 1732 characterizes “single-client can office” as “a can office without any than one water storeroom and one urinal with a locking system controlled by the client.”

Bosses must “illuminate every worker of his or her rights” upon contract and whenever from that point upon ask. The Labor Commissioner will build up a shape for these reasons and distribute it by July 1, 2017.


Getting Employee Information

The new laws restrict bosses from getting some information about or considering data identifying with captures, feelings, or different procedures that happened while a candidate or representative “was liable to the procedure and purview of juvenile court law.” Basically, if it happened while you were a minor, it is not to be taken into account during the hiring process or while employed with a company.


What would employers be able to do to prepare?

  • Make beyond any reasonable doubt that HR staff, employing directors, and bosses comprehend the procedures before initiating them within the company or on any individual within the company.
  • Stay up to date on the new laws for the upcoming years and put plans into action now that will allow them to stay ahead of them.
  • Review pay practices to recognize potential incongruities in light of race and ethnicity, and gender. If disparities are noticed, fix them.
  • Obtain and introduce proper signage for single-client restrooms to stay in accordance with the law.
  • Ensure that applications don’t receive bias decisions based on the actions taken while the applicant was an adolescent.

The Fair Pay Act Has Reduced Pay Discrimination In California

fair pay

Employees are essential to any organization or company, but without fair pay, no one would stick around very long. If you have employees in your business or company, you should ensure that you pay them well, especially the ones that you want to stick around.

In addition, you should ensure that they have good working conditions. Good remuneration is one of the motivating factors that can make employees perform better in the workplace.

However, there are circumstances where employees are normally discriminated due to their races. This leads to a race-based disparity in pay. This is detrimental. This can actually make an employee lose morale in his or her job. However, in California, Fair Pay Act came to mitigate this problem.


What is Fair Pay?

You will note that employees who perform similar work under similar working conditions should be paid equally. However, there are instances where the employees who work under the same conditions can be paid differently.

In this case, the employee should be able to manifest that the wage differential is based on either of the following; senior system, merit system and so forth. He or she should also show that he or she gets more salary not as a result of sex or race but due to factors such as education or experience.

You will note that this law requires that each factor is relied on. Each factor should account for the entire wage differential. This is one way of reducing discrimination in the workplace. As we move towards the future, employees will need to be paid for the position he or she is worth.

However, if the same employee has extra skills and competencies that can help the company or the organization, he or she can get a higher salary. The burden of paying employees falls on the employer.

The employer should check these factors so that he or she can pay the employees what they deserve. If you promote fairness in your workplace, your employees will be encouraged to work. In addition, their morale will increase. This goes a long way in improving their productivity.


What the Fair Pay Act Does

The Fair Pay Act basically calls for an overhaul of hiring practices of HR professionals who work in California. These professionals should check the credentials of the job applicants and then reward them accordingly.

This can do a long way in reducing race-based disparities in pay. Earlier on, job applicants used to negotiate for their salaries with their employers. However, times have changed. This Act has enabled most employees to get a fair pay for their services. This can be very beneficial to your company or business in California.

New Arbitration Protections for CA Employees

arbitration protection

Nowadays, it has become conventional for most employers to incorporate employment arbitration protection agreements in their employees’ contracts. These employees, however, ought to be sure about the arbitration protection before they sign the agreement. The reason for this is that most employment arbitrations get prepared in favor of the employer’s side.

For example, if an employer signs an employment contract for a specified period of years, he or she loses the mandates to sue their employer if they get fired or discriminated at their workplace.


Business Practices

Most employers incorporate employment arbitration agreement regarding the contract. This means that employees who sign for such a deal cannot impose a legal action against their employers in a court of law. In such a case, disputes arising in the workplace get settled through arbitration, which is an alternative to filing a lawsuit in the court.


New Laws

As a way of mitigating employees’ oppression by the harsh arbitration agreements, the legislature in California has enacted two new statutes which have favored employee’s arbitration protection against workplace disputes. One of the laws, SB 1007, offers either of the arbitration parties with the right to hire a certified reporter whose role is to officially transcribe all the proceedings, depositions, or hearings, for record keeping.

Transcription of testimonies and hearing reports can get essential for employers because it could get more comfortable to refer or cite from a stored record of previous proceedings.

The second statute that the California legislature passed was referred to as SB 1241. This enactment held that provisions by the arbitration cannot allow employees in the state of California to arbitrate their complaints in foreign states or enable arbitrators to utilize laws from other states in the U.S.

Apparently, such provisions would have gotten regarded as unconscionable even in the previous law. This regard is because the courts primarily insist that employees ought not to be burdened with expenses or other consequences in arbitration, which surpass what a court action would require them to bear.


The Pros of Workplace Arbitration Protection

  • Arbitration helps to keep off harsh and emotion-fueled verdict by the jury.
  • Procedures of arbitration are quite straightforward.
  • Arbitration offers more privacy with no media glare, as compared to a public court trial.
  • Settling of a case is cheaper and quick in arbitration than in a court of law.
  • There are limited chances of appeal by the loser.


     The Cons

  • The law remains unsettled on the enforceability of arbitration agreements.
  • The costs of an arbitrator and forum are high.
  • It becomes difficult to do away with cases on summary judgment or dismissal.

California Changes its Smoking Restriction Law


The US state of California, for the first time in over 20 years, has divided to change its smoking laws that are enforced throughout the state. These laws impact the way people consume cigarettes and other devices that are used for their nicotine-delivery methods.


Now, some workplaces that had an exemption from the previous smoke-free law are no longer in existence and the minimum smoking age has been raised from 18 to the 21. Also, the law equates vaporizers and e-cigarette, which are quickly gaining popularity in every corner of the world, including California, with regular tobacco products in these new smoking restrictions.


Here are the most important details about the changes and how will they reflect themselves into the California’s workforce.




The Impact of the Changes


The changed laws include those which cover all state’s employers, even those businesses that are owner-operated, which allow non-employees like clients or customer access to the same workplace. Now, the single exception from these smoking restrictions is those businesses that are operated by a single employee-own with no access to the outside whatsoever.


Apart from this, employers can still allow the act of smoking in very specific workplaces like truck driver cabins which do not have any other employees who do not smoke present at that time. Business premises like tobacco shops can have private smoking areas like lounges where smoking restrictions do not apply.



Old Smoking Restriction Laws


The old laws had several big exceptions to their restrictions. Firstly, they did not cover those employers who have five or fewer employees. Before the change in the law, a company could allow smoking in their official break room.


Finally, the old law did not include workplaces operating mostly in the hospitality industry like hotel lobbies, taverns, bars, and banquet rooms, but also failed to cover places like warehouses. The new laws take away all of these exceptions aside from a few very narrowly-defined place of business.



Tobacco Products


The last major change brought about by the new law is the recognition of all nicotine delivery products, electronic and traditional, as virtually the same. This means that electronic devices like e-cigarettes and vaporizers are seen as identical in the eyes of the law as regular cigarettes.


Because of this, it is now a crime to sell vaporizers to a person under the age of 21, while it is also a crime to use them in a place that restricts smoking on their premises.



Bottom Line of the Law Change


The changes in the law mean that almost all businesses and workplaces are now smoke-free, regardless of the number of their employees or their industry. The same is true for electronic devices used for smoking, which are now effectively banned from the same location in the same way as traditional cigarettes.


California Law Concerning Domestic Violence Leave

domestic violence

The law in California requires employers to notify employees about their rights when it comes to domestic violence leave. There are several legislations which have yet to become law and others that have been signed by the governor to become law.

For example, the law on the rights of employees concerning domestic violence leave. Stalking and special assault have been discussed in the house of legislation. Many employers and workers in California know their rights when it comes to the legislation.

There are several reasons why an employer can take leave to seek medical attention due to sexual violence.

Some of the reasons why an employer can seek leave under the domestic violence leave legislation include the following circumstances:


To seek medical attention for injuries

Some domestic violence case can lead to injury. If you have been injured in the violence, the law has provisions where you can seek leave at your workplace for you to attend to the injuries. There are many people who have gone through domestic violence which affects their productivity to work. The law tries to make it possible for workers to seek for a leave so that they can attend to the injuries for them to become more productive.

Obtaining services from domestic violence program

There are several programs such as domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center among other service providers. An employee is allowed legally to seek for leave from his place of work and seek the services of the programs. As an employer, you should know your employee has the rights to seek the services of experts in the field hence you should be prepared to allow your employee carry out the duties.


To obtain psychological counseling

If you have been abused in a domestic violence, then you need to seek the services of a psychological counselor the law in California allows people who have undergone the domestic violence to access the help of the experts. If you have been affected, then it is necessary for you to seek the services of the experts after you seek leave at your workplace. The employer is required by law to grant you the leave.


To take safety actions

You can decide to relocate for sometimes you solve the issue or decide to move out of your marriage completely. In such a case, you need time and the law allows you to access such opportunity so that you can move out of the abusive relationship.

Mistakes Made When Filing A Workers Compensation Claim

workers compensation

A workers compensation lawyer will work with you through the claims process. If an employee is injured while on the clock, the employer’s insurance should provide financial protection for the individual. However, a claim must be filed, and the insurance company must approve the claim for the individual to receive this coverage.

Though the process is strictly regulated, it is still possible for individuals who are in need of such claims to be denied coverage. That could mean you are paying thousands of dollars in medical bills because of a mistake somewhere in this process. An attorney can help you to avoid those complications.

The Employer Didn’t File the Claim

Though it is not legal for them to do so, some employers will not file such claims and will offer to pay out of pocket for such types of medical issues. The problem with this is that it does not protect the injured individual. Without a paper way, there is no way for you to prove that you were injured on the job. That is a significant risk for you to take. Rather than do this, work with a workers compensation lawyer to get the type of protection you need to avoid this kind of problem.

The Insurance Company Denied The Claim

It is common for individuals to make mistakes during the filing process and for the insurance company merely to deny coverage. You do not qualify for such levels of protection in some instances. For example, if you are facing concerns related to a claim that you have no evidence for, it may be hard to prove your case. However, with the help of attorneys, you may be able to get the help you need finally.

If you have been denied, it will be up to you and your attorney to petition for an appeal. This is done through a specific method. If you were missing information or otherwise limited terms of evidence, you would need to correct that problem before trying to file your claim again. The attorneys will help you to gather such information. If the claim is further denied, it might be necessary to take the process to court for further exploration of your risks to compensation.

There is no doubt that this process can be a challenge. However, there is help available. With the aid of an attorney, you can finally get the compensation you deserve. The key is to hire a workers compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Putting it off could obligate you a lot in the long term.

Same-Sex Couples and Shared Employment Benefits


Despite the highly rising number of same-sex couples, it has looking harder and harder for them to be included in the shared employment benefits. For a long period of time, marriage has been giving spouses a chance for them to share and enjoy their employment benefits. Such benefits include dental and health insurances, among others.


The couples have triumphantly been fighting for jurisdiction recognition and are winning extensively. What now remains in question is whether their employment benefits should be equal to those enjoyed by heterosexual couples.



Gaining Clarity

Under many interpretations, the question remains not clearly answered. In the U.S v. Windsor decision by the U.S Supreme Court, the Act named Defense of Marriage was found unconstitutional and same-sex matrimony was opened as a lawful possibility.


States were however left able to regulate marriages depending on their own interpretations. Same-sex marriages, therefore, remain unrecognized by various states. Such states maintain their stand even for the marriages that were conducted in other states that allow the union.



Protected Classes

Race, religion, gender, and ethnicity are protected classes because of their good establishment. This raises the concerns over whether the LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender) may be protected by the anti-discrimination laws through being considered as one of the protected classes.


Laws protecting these classes are always interpreted differently and after strict reviews, the courts often overturn any of the laws that if it is found lacking a legitimate purpose, violating equal protection right or if there exists a way of accomplishing the intended goal through a lesser restriction.



Stance On Gay Marriage

With the complexity of the answers to the question in hand, the employers are left facing a difficult predicament. All the states have not come to a common agreement despite the Federal Court’s ban of the law stating the unconstitutionality of gay marriage.


The individuals have also not been determined to be under a class with protection by the law. Such protection includes the equality of employment benefits just as is the case for heterosexual couples. The wonder that therefore remains is, should an employer offer the same-sex couples equal employment benefits as to those offered to straight couples?



State Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction taken by various states is varying and according to the way the politics are unfolding, there seems to be a brighter future for the LGBT couples. The laws protecting them may spread further and further. As an advice, for companies that are caught up within the varying jurisdictions, it might be better for them to operate within the laws stated by the majority of the states.


This will beef up the employees’ equality rights and also prevent future conflicts with the laws set under the jurisdictions. In fact, a good number of Fortune500 companies are already in the move towards equal domestic partners or spouse’s benefits for their LGBT employees.



Business Stance

Companies that are only operating under one state can consider the laws of the particular jurisdiction. A corporate counsel can be consulted on the matter. It is, however, important for such companies to keep looking at how the laws are changing because it seems that more equal rights for same-sex couples or individuals will continually be imposed. For same-sex couples who feel that their right to share their employment benefits is in denial, they can seek advice from an experienced attorney.

Understanding Child Labor Laws in California

child labor

Since every state has specific labor laws, understanding child labor laws in California can be a challenge. There are specific guidelines which apply only to California so understanding their laws is important.

General Guidelines

It is illegal to employ a child under the age of 18 without a valid work permit. School districts will provide students with these work permits that must be obtained by an employer. The only exception to this rule is minors who are employed by parents on a farm or agricultural work.

Each minor will have to obtain an employer-specific work permit and renew the permit each year that the minor is employed. Children under the age of 12 are not able to obtain work permits.


Children Ages 12-13

Although work permits for these children is rare, children who are ages 12 and 13 may only work during school holidays, vacations, and weekends. They are not allowed to work on a school day. Additionally, they are limited to work only eight hours a day and up to 40 hours each week.


Ages 14-15

Labor laws are slightly more liberal for teenagers. During a school day, teenagers 14-15 may work up to three hours a day, although they cannot work within school hours. They can work up to 18 hours a week when school is in session.

On holidays and vacations, they may work eight hours a day and up to 40 hours a week. Additionally, the law states that they must have finished 7th grade in order to work while school is in session.


Ages 16-17

Laws liberalize slightly more for this age range. Teenagers this age may work up to four hours a day on a school day and up to 48 hours a week. When school is not in session, they may work up to eight hours a day and up to 48 hours a week as well.

Additionally, although labor laws limit working until 7 PM for younger workers, teenagers ages 16-17 can work up to 10 PM in the evening and until 12:30 AM if the next day is a school day.


Additional Regulations

Children who want to obtain a work permit must be enrolled in school full-time unless they are a high school graduate. Each age range also has specific jobs which can be performed. Hazardous and manufacturing jobs are not allowed for minors.

These are the basic child labor laws which are in place currently. Since these regulations may change, always check before hiring a minor.

Can You Fire Someone Due to Social Media Comments?

social media

Can you fire someone due to his social media comments? It is a common question which many people ask, however, there are different factors which come into consideration before you can fire someone on the grounds that he has posted certain comments on social media.

First, employers can prohibit employees from using social media while in their places of work. The restrictions can be put in place as a way of trying to prevent workers from wasting a lot of time on social media instead of doing what they are paid to do. There are some businesses which will prohibit employees from getting involved in political stances which they can manifest on social media.

As an employer, it is always necessary to be careful when drafting your workplace regulations not to find yourself on the wrong side of the law. Some of the factors which determine whether you can fire someone due to social media include the following:


Employment Policies

Employment policies may spell out how employees should conduct themselves when in the workplace. For example, the employer can deny the employees certain action on social media which can affect the overall performance of the business.

For example, posting negative comments which can compromise the operation of the company can be restricted in workplaces. Employers should always impose the restrictions with care to avoid cases where they will be on the wrong side of the law.


At-Will Employment

There are some workplaces where an employer and the employees enter into an agreement referred to as at-will employment. In the contract, both parties are free to terminate the contract without any reasons.

For example, the employee can decide to quit without even giving reasons. In the same way, an employer can decide to fire even without giving reasons. If you are employed in such circumstances and your employer does not like what you post on social media, he can decide to fire you at will.


Employment Contracts

Some employees sign contracts with their employees. If the contract prohibits the employee from posting certain comments on social media which can damage the smooth running of the organization, and you proceed and make the wrong comments, the employer can end up firing you.


Labor Guidelines

The National Labor Relations Board can explain when the employer can fire employees due to social media. The board receives several complaints in relation to wrongful termination of work due to certain online posts. The First Amendment Rights allows free speech, but you should remember they are not applicable in private workplaces.

What You Need to Know About Construction Accidents

construction accidents

Many construction accidents in California are caused by defective equipment. The use of hand tools and heavy industrial equipment or vehicles is part of construction work. Unfortunately, there are times when the equipment is not well maintained which can cause serious injuries and even the loss of life. Injuries can also involve amputations or any serious condition that will prevent the worker from returning to work. Here is a list of the main causes of construction injuries in the California workplace.


Design Flaw

Equipment is deemed defective due to a manufacturing or design flaw. Workers who are using defective equipment run the risk of getting injured or killed. The manufacturer or distributor of the defective equipment could be named in a third-party lawsuit and held liable for compensation.


Lack of Maintenance and Repair

Equipment needs periodic maintenance to remain functional and safe for worker’s use. Employers need to make sure that the equipment is properly maintained before allowing its use. Employers must also mandate immediate repairs for equipment deemed unsafe for use. Until the particular machinery is repaired, workers should not attempt to use it to prevent possible accidents and injuries.


Inadequate Workers Training

Modern equipment is favored in construction for its increased productivity and efficiency. The machinery tends to reduce the amount of physical labor required and even possible risk to human lives. Unfortunately, most construction accidents happen because employers tend to overlook the fact that the workers need adequate training to operate the sophisticated equipment. Workers should not operate the machinery if they lacked the knowledge to run it. Otherwise, they will put themselves and others at risk.


Construction Worker’s Right Against Past Criminal Record Screening

California has a current law which protects discrimination against felons. The law prevents employers from asking or using criminal convictions that have been judicially dismissed or sealed. This will protect job seekers who have such records from undue scrutiny and give them the chance to land a job. Employers who violate this new rule intentionally can get slapped with a civil penalty or a misdemeanor criminal liability.


Exceptions to the Rule

This law does not cover cases where the job applicant is required to hold and use a firearm during this or her employment period. Another instance is when the conviction prevents the applicant from holding the job or the employer is simply not allowed to hire an applicant convicted of a crime.

Employers should pay close attention to their equipment and make sure that they are safe for their worker’s use to prevent serious injuries and legal liabilities. Employers should also update their screening process to follow the law that protects ex-felons from discrimination.



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