New Year, New Employer Responsibilities for January 2017

Golden gateCalifornia legislators continue to create new and revise old laws.  A summary of the changes for 2017, and annual best practices recommendations, are provided below:

  1. Take note of increase to minimum wage and update in payroll/ with payroll processor
  2. Advise employees of decreased mileage reimbursement to 53.5 cents per mile
  3. Post updated federal, state, and local ordinance posters in common areas
  4. Use updated I-9 form by January 21, 2017
  5. Distribute Notice to Employee to reflect changes in wages or company polices within 7 days of the change
  6. Update Employee Handbook (annually) and conduct Performance Reviews
  7. Ensure personnel files are up to date with signed documents (including Anti-Harassment policy and Arbitration Agreement, among others)
  8. Schedule Sexual Harassment training
  1. Minimum Wage

fee-increaseAs of January 1, 2017, the minimum wage has been increased to $10.50 per hour in California for employers with 26 or more employees, and remains at $10.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.

In addition, several cities will see an additional increase in the minimum wage.  The following is a short list of cities with more expansive minimum wages for employers of all sizes, unless otherwise noted: Continue reading

IRS Mileage Reimbursement Rates Decrease in 2017

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© Jennifer Grady

Beginning January 1, 2017, the standard mileage rates designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are the following:

  1. 53.5 cents per mile for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck for business miles driven (down from 54 cents in 2016).
  2. 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (down from 19 cents in 2016).
  3. 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (unchanged).

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs. Continue reading

Online filing with the EDD will be mandatory for Companies with 10+ Employees in 2017

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Beginning Sunday, January 1, 2017, employers with 10 or more employees will be required to electronically submit employment tax returns, wage reports, and payroll tax deposits to the Employment Development Department (EDD). Employees with fewer than 10 employees will be subject to this requirement beginning January 1, 2018.

This mandate also applies to out-of-state employers who report payroll taxes to the EDD.

The e-file and e-pay mandate requires the following returns, reports, and payments to be electronically submitted: Continue reading

Increased Minimum Wage for Employers with 26+ Employees Starting Jan 1, 2017

fee-increaseThe California minimum wage law has been modified so that the wages will gradually increase to $15.00 per hour by 2022.

For the first time, the increases are grouped by employer size.  Employers with 26 or more employees will need to increase the minimum wage from $10.00 per hour to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2017.  Employers with 25 or fewer employees will have another year until the minimum wage increases by fifty cents for their employees.

The schedule for the California minimum wage increases for large employers is as follows: Continue reading

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Very Real and Very Costly for Employers

150212-sexualharassment-stockWhile sexual harassment has been in everyone’s vocabulary since Dolly Parton’s Nine to Five graced screens in 1980, it has become a topic of increased importance and media coverage as more and more sexual harassment claims are brought against celebrities such as Bill Cosby, President-Elect Donald Trump, and former President Bill Clinton.  While you or your employees may not identify with these over-the-top personalities in positions of power, sexual harassment claims are very real and very expensive.

For example, a recent claim against the popular P.F. Chang’s China Bistro chain cost the company $1 million in response to two employees’ claims that they were repeatedly sexually harassed and were subjected to a hostile work environment. According to the arbitrator’s written order, both women said they were subjected to offensive comments and conduct from the male kitchen staff at the restaurants, including jokes about sex, remarks about female workers’ bodies, and kissing and whistling noises aimed at female employees as they walked by. In addition, one of the women said she saw a group of male kitchen employees watching a pornographic video on a smartphone, and she frequently heard the cooks singing sexually explicit songs in the rear of the restaurant in University City.  The reality is that these activities occur more often than you might think.

To continue reading about the risks of sexual harassment in the workplace and how to protect yourself as an employer, continue reading our article in the December issue of the California Employer’s Report. Continue reading

DOL Rule Increasing Minimum Salary Requirements for Exempt Employees Now on Hold Per Court Order

gavelLast month, we discussed how the Department of Labor (DOL) was scheduled to implement a new rule that would increase the minimum salary requirements for exempt employees.  The new rule published by the DOL would have doubled the minimum salary requirements for employees from $455/week to $913/week. This rule was supposed to take effect on December 1, 2016; however, employers can breathe easy for a bit longer.

On November 22, 2016 a federal judge from the United States District Court in Texas temporarily blocked implementation of the rule, in response to a request by 21 states and business groups.  This delay is temporary, while litigation continues and the court makes a determination as to whether the DOL has the authority to implement such a rule. Continue reading

L-1B Intracompany Transferee Visa for Employees With Specialized Knowledge

international-movers-and-packersThe L-1B visa permits a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge from one of its foreign offices to one of its U.S. offices.  There is also the option for a foreign company that does not yet have an office in the U.S. to send an employee with specialized knowledge to the states to help establish a U.S. office.  Both the employer and employee must meet certain qualification requirements:

1. To qualify for L-1B classification in this category, the EMPLOYER must:

  • Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
  • Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1.  While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.

Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad. Continue reading

Now is the Time to Start Preparing Your H-1B Visa Application

enter-usa-h1b-visaThe H-1B visa is one of the most popular ways for foreign professionals i specialty occupations to obtain a work visa, and even a Green Card in the United States.  A successful H-1B application requires sponsorship by the professional’s employer, and can be granted for three years, with one additional three-year renewal. The H-1B allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, and requires a Bachelor’s Degree or its equivalent.

Although USCIS will not begin accepting H-1B applications until April 1, 2017, it is critical
to start preparing your application now, as the competition for this coveted visa is fierce.  The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit, or cap, of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. However, the first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap.  In 2016, USCIS received 236,000 H-1B visa applications within the first five days of the application period. Once USCIS receives enough applications to satisfy the 65,000 quota, it implements a lottery.  The applications that are not selected in the lottery are returned to the sender, along with their filing fees.  In 2016, there was a 25% chance of an application making it through the lottery with a Bachelor’s Degree, and a one third chance with a Master’s Degree.  Continue reading

Learn the Secrets Behind Starting and Building a Successful Law Firm on Feb. 21 with Jennifer Grady

law-firmOn February 21, 2016, attorney and entrepreneur, Jennifer Grady, Esq. will be teaching law school graduates how to open and develop a law firm from scratch.  Ms. Grady will provide the top 10 tips every small law firm owner should know, and will include real-world examples.  Topics will include entity formation, retainer agreements, marketing, and client retention.

loyolaThe seminar will take place at Loyola Law School on February 21, 2017 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.  The presentation will begin at 7:00 p.m., and will end with the opportunity for Q&A and networking.

To RSVP for this event, please sign up here. Continue reading

Join The Grady Firm and 2,000 Volunteers as we Adopt a Soldier Through Operation Gratitude on December 17

soldiers

Let’s join together as a community to give back to our country’s brave soldiers stationed around the world on December 17.

Operation Gratitude sends 250,000 care packages per year (almost 2 million to date!) to members of our armed services that include snacks, essentials, and letters to keep them motivated while they are away from home.

Join members of The Grady Firm, the Women Entrepreneurs Club, and nearly 2,000 other volunteers as as we participate in Package Assembly Day on December 17, 2016 from 9 am to 12 pm in Chatsworth, California.

On that day, you can assist with package assembly, read/screen letters, knit scarves, or write letters to our heroes.

You can also collect items in advance of the event to bring with you, or drop them off at The Grady Firm by December 16. Continue reading

Take Action on Your Immigration Application Before Fees Increase 12/23 and a New Administration Takes Office in January

trumpIf you are planning to file an application for a visa, Green Card, or naturalization, we highly recommend you do so before the end of the year.  Filing fees will increase by an average of 21% on December 23, 2016.  In addition, due to the uncertainty of the transition to a new President and GOP-majority Congress, we recommend filing your application now so that it will be in the queue in the event programs are taken away, modified, or application wait times increase.

Fee Increase

money-bagsFor the first time in six years, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be increasing its filing fees to help cover the increasing costs of providing its services.  Some increases will be substantial, others less so, and overall, fees will increase by a weighted average of 21%.  Some more common and popular applications that will be affected include the following forms,  which are used for Green Card, work permit, and citizenship applications: I-90, I-130, I-140, I-485, I-765, and N-400, to name a few.  For more detailed information on each of these changes, and all other fee increases, check out our recent blog post here. Continue reading

How Will Legalized Marijuana Affect You and Your Business?

marijuana-leafOn November 8, 2016 California voters passed Proposition 64, “The Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” which legalized the recreational use and possession of marijuana for adults 21 and over in the state of California.  California is now the fifth state to legalize recreational marijuana, after being the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996.

As of November 9, 2016, adults 21 and over can now legally use and possess up to an ounce of marijuana buds, and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana.  However, such use must be done privately, as it is still illegal to smoke in public places, or on the grounds of a school, day care center, or youth care center while children are present.  Furthermore, it is still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana or any other drug.

It is unlikely that residents will be able to walk into a dispensary to purchase marijuana without a medical card until January 1, 2018, the deadline for the state to set up a licensing system for dispensaries.

In the meantime, adults are permitted to grow up to six marijuana plants in their private home, inside or outside, as long as the plants are in an enclosed and secured space.  Residents can grow more than one ounce at a marijuana-illustrationtime, but any amount in excess of the statewide limits must remain in the home.  Growers are free however, to give away any excess marijuana they cultivate, as long as it is free of charge.

For Previously Convicted Individuals

Proposition 64 will also affect those with prior marijuana convictions, as it authorizes re-sentencing and deconstruction of records for old convictions that would now  be legal under the new law.

What does this new law mean for California employers?

For now at least, nothing changes.  Employers still have the right to maintain a drug-free workplace, and drug test prospective or current employees in keeping with the current law and their policies. This means that an employee can still be fired for testing positive for marijuana, even if their last use was off-work hours or because of a medical disability. However, employers should be cautious, as the latter could lead to disability discrimination claims.  This issues can be address in an Employee Handbook, which should be revised annually to reflect changes in California law.

Effective January 1, 2018, a 15 percent excise tax is imposed upon purchasers of all marijuana and marijuana products. Additionally, a tax on cultivators of marijuana is imposed as follows:

  • $9.25 per dry-weight ounce of marijuana flowers
  • $2.75 per dry-weight ounce of marijuana leaves

The new law is expected to bring in at least $1 billion in additional revenue to California annually, which will be deposited into a new California Marijuana Tax Fund, and allocated to drug research, treatment programs, and law enforcement.


  • JGrady Firm-Logo-2016The Grady Firm, P.C. attorneys specialize in helping businesses grow and succeed through employment, business, and immigration law advising for clients in California.  For California employers, they help perform personnel audits, train employers on employment law compliance, provide on-demand legal analysis for hiring and firing questions, provide leadership and sexual harassment training in English and Spanish, and answer any questions about changes in federal and state law.

To learn more about ensuring your business is compliant with state and local laws, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (323) 450-9010; or fill out a Contact Request Form.

*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.

USCIS To Increase Filing Fees on December 23, 2016

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For the first time in six years, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has increased its filing fees by a weighted average of 21% for numerous immigration applications and petitions.  USCIS announced the increase in a final rule published in the Federal Register, noting that the increase will go into effect on December 23, 2016.  The department explained that because USCIS is primarily funded by these fees, an increase was necessary in order to fully cover the costs of providing its services.

fee-increaseOne of the steepest increases is the fee for EB-5 applications, especially Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Entrepreneur), which will increase from $1,500 to $3,675 – an almost 145% increase.  Furthermore, USCIS also added a $3,035 fee for the I-924A – Annual Certification of Regional Center, an essential form for EB-5 applicants applying through regional centers.

Other popular forms that will also increase include the popular I-90, I-130, I-140, I-485, I-765, N-400, which are used for Green Card, work permit, and citizenship applications.

For more information about these fee increases view the official USCIS announcement here.  If you plan on filing any of these forms within the next few months, you can save money on filing fees by filing before costs increase on December 23,2016.  Due to the uncertainty that will follow the recent political elections, we recommend filing your application before new officials take office in January 2017.

Below is a chart highlighting and comparing these major fee changes: Continue reading

New I-9 Form Must be Used by Jan 21, 2017

I-9The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that an updated Form I-9 has been approved. While the current form had a revision date of 03/08/2013 N and expired in March this year, is is acceptable for continued use until January 17, 2017.

On August 25, 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. USCIS must publish a revised form by November 22, 2016. After January 21, 2017, all previous versions of Form I-9 will be invalid. Make sure you are always using the most current, acceptable version of the Form I-9, and ensure that the I-9 is completed by all new employees within three days of hire.

For more information on self-audits and other Form I-9 issues, see the “Handbook for Employers” https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/m-274.pdf issued by USCIS. Find the latest version of the I-9 form here.

JGrady Firm-Logo-2016The Grady Firm, P.C. attorneys specialize in helping businesses grow and succeed through employment, business, and immigration law advising for clients in California.  They help perform personnel audits, train employers on employment law compliance, provide on-demand legal analysis for hiring and firing questions, and provide leadership and sexual harassment training in English and Spanish.

To learn more about ensuring your business is compliant with state and local laws, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (323) 450-9010; or fill out a Contact Request Form.

*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.

New DOL Rule Increases Minimum Salary Requirements for Exempt Employees Starting 12/01/16

12/01/16: This Rule is currently on hold, per court order. Please read the latest article for news updates on this topic.

On May 23, 2016, the Department of Labor announced a new, final rule that will take effect on December 1, 2016. To the relief of employers, the new rule does not make any changes to the criteria for classifying employees as exempt. Employers can continue to classify employees as exempt or non-exempt under the same duties tests and criteria they used in the past. However, the principal change comes in the form of several heightened minimum salary requirements.

The DOL estimates that in the first year as many as 4.2 million workers would either need to: (1) be reclassified as non-exempt and paid overtime whenever they work more than 40 hours in a workweek; or (2) receive an increase in their salary to meet the new requirement.

exempt-well-maybeUnder the new rule, the minimum annual salary for exempt employees will more than double, from $23,660 ($455 per week) to $47,476 ($921 a week). The minimum annual salary for highly compensated employees will also increase from $100,000 to $134,004. Furthermore, these minimums will continue to automatically increase every three years.

In a new addition to the rule, employers will now be permitted to satisfy up to 10 percent of the annual salary level through non-discretionary bonus and incentive payments, including commissions. Payments to health insurance policies, however, may not be used to satisfy the salary requirement. Continue reading