California Minimum Wage Increases on January 1, 2018

minimum wageCalifornia Minimum Wage Rate Increase

Beginning on January 1, 2018, the minimum wage in California will increase to the following:

  • Employers with 25 employees or less must pay employees at least $10.50 per hour, and
  • Employers with 26 employees or more must pay employees at least $11.00 per hour.

Keep in mind that some California counties and cities have higher minimum wages with which employers must comply.  Cities and counties are allowed to establish minimum wage rates that are higher than state and federal minimum wage laws.  When there are conflicting requirements in the laws, the employer must follow the stricter standard – the one that is the most generous to the employee.

Prior to 2012, only five localities had their own minimum wage laws.  In the last five years, the trend towards more expansive local minimum wage amounts has caught on in cities and counties across the state.  Currently, 39 counties and cities have enacted their own minimum wage laws.  For information on the latest minimum wage laws in U.S. cities and counties, click here.

The following are minimum wage rates for some major California counties and cities: Continue reading

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“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Terminations This Holiday Season”

holiday partyGiven the recent tidal wave of allegations of sexual harassment in politics, the entertainment industry, and social media, employers may want consider the following guidelines in preparation for their company holiday events where alcohol and off-site events may create a combustible mix of unwanted behavior by one employee to another.

Holiday parties may be an excellent opportunity for employees to socialize outside of the confines of the office, and to reward employees for their service, but they can also give rise to employer liability in the absence of appropriate precautions. Before planning your next holiday soiree, review the potential pitfalls and solutions below so that your event can be full of cheer, rather than unpleasant lawsuits.

  1. Serving Alcohol at Company Functions

wine glassesWhile having alcohol available may make typical water cooler conversations less awkward, and can be a way for people to let off steam and celebrate, it can lead to liability for employers in the form of vicarious liability, sexual harassment, social host liability, and other potential issues. Continue reading

The Grady Firm, P.C. Adds Global Expansion and Relocation Advising Department to Support Multi-National Corporations

globeIn response to multi-national corporations’ growing need to move personnel across borders, The Grady Firm has emerged as an outsourced Global Mobility Department that provides expansion and relocation services to innovative companies.  The Grady Firm helps companies relocate their employees from abroad to the United States, while assisting companies with their expansion to several countries around the world.

 

Domestically, The Grady Firm provides to companies seeking to bring employees to the United States, and/or open a U.S. subsidiary:

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  1. Immigration Strategy and Analysis for companies seeking long-term and short-term solutions.  We develop a plan to assist owners, employees, and their dependents with visa, Green Card, and Citizenship applications;
  2. Employment law counseling and support for Human Resources Departments, including assistance with hiring, disciplining, and terminating employees; creating and monitoring E-Verify accounts; I-9 compliance; medical leave advising; on-site sexual harassment training in English and Spanish; on-site company investigations; and ongoing counsel for employment law concerns as companies grow and expand;
  3. Drafting contracts, such as employment agreements, severance agreements, independent contractor agreements, and client services agreements;
  4. Corporate advising and creation of US subsidiaries;
  5. Facilitate preparation of a comprehensive tax strategy for the company and its employees by working closely with our network of licensed tax advisors; and
  6. Provide referrals to our network of CPAs; real estate brokers; and payroll, insurance, employee benefits, recruiting, marketing, and credit card processing companies.

Continue reading

The Grady Firm joins MAPLE Canadian-US Business Council Delegation to Toronto; Partners with Canadian Immigration Firm to Offer Cross-Border Services

maple-jg-with-sign-e1507223473277.jpgOn September 21-22, 2017, Jennifer Grady, Esq. participated in a delegation of the MAPLE® Canadian-U.S. Business Council of Southern California on a cross-border networking event in Toronto, Ontario.  The delegation visited nine leading innovation, enterprise, and government organizations and hosted a sold-out cross-border networking reception to connect with Toronto-area business leaders.  A panel presentation called “Doing Business with Southern California” featured speakers from Economic Development & Tourism, Business and International Development at Greater Irvine Chamber in Orange County, and the World Trade Center Los Angeles.

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Outside MaRS Discovery District

The following organizations provided the delegation with insight into their work and shared opportunities for cross-border collaboration:

  • EY Canada
  • JLabs Toronto
  • MaRS Discovery District
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Ryerson University Digital Media Zone
  • Toronto Board of Trade
  • Toronto Global
  • Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
  • U.S. Department of Commerce

Continue reading

USCIS Releases New I-9 Form to Be Used by September 2017

i-9USCIS released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on July 17, 2017. Download instructions are available on the Form I-9 page. Employers can use this revised version, or continue using Form I-9 with a revision date of 11/14/16 N through Sept. 17, 2017. However, on Sept. 18, employers must begin using the revised form with a revision date of 07/17/17 N. Employers must continue following existing storage and retention rules for any previously completed Form I-9.

Revisions to the Form I-9 instructions:

  • USCIS changed the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, “Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.”
  • USCIS removed “the end of” from the phrase “the first day of employment.”

Continue reading

Plaintiffs Given Broad Access to Discovery in PAGA Suits by California Supreme Court

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by Grace Lim-Ayres, Esq.

On July 13, 2017, the California Supreme Court in Williams v. Superior Court (Marshalls of CA, LLC) issued an opinion addressing the scope of discovery in representative actions brought under PAGA (Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, codified in Cal. Lab. Code § 2698 et seq.).  The Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) authorizes aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for Labor Code violations.

The Williams Court unanimously reversed the trial court’s discovery order denying plaintiff access to statewide contact information for fellow employees of other Marshalls stores.  It held that plaintiffs in PAGA actions have access to a broad scope of discovery similar to discoverable information in a class action.  The plaintiff is entitled to statewide contact information at the onset of the case to determine which cause of action to plead, and whether a broader representative action is warranted.

In what could be considered another blow to employers in an already employee-friendly state, given the relatively low threshold for pleading, employees may now bring more PAGA claims that are in fact “fishing expeditions”, which will in turn require employers to spend more time defending against them.  In addition, it is clear that statewide contact information is relevant and discoverable in a PAGA claim at the outset of the case. Continue reading

DHS Delays Debut of International Entrepreneur (Parole) Rule Until March 2018

international-movers-and-packersby Anthony Mance, Esq. and Jennifer Grady, Esq.

On Monday, July 10, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would delay implementation of an Obama-era program that would allow international entrepreneurs the opportunity to come to the United States to develop and operate start-up businesses.

In its announcement, which was officially entered into the Federal Register on Tuesday, DHS stated that the program, known as the International Entrepreneur Rule, would be delayed until March of 2018. According to DHS, the delay will allow for a pubic comment period on whether to fully rescind the Rule.

The International Entrepreneur Rule, which was issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services prior to President Obama leaving office, would provide international entrepreneurs with an opportunity to develop and run a business in the United States. The Rule would permit around 3000 international entrepreneurs annually to come to the United States for the purposes of developing and operating a business that offered a significant public benefit. To qualify, the entrepreneur would have to demonstrate that their business promotes public interest in ways that include hiring U.S. workers and contributing to the U.S. economy. Continue reading

Santa Monica, California’s Minimum Wage and Sales Tax Will Increase on July 1, 2017

Santa MonicaAs of July 1, 2017, the City of Santa Monica will implement changes to its sales tax and minimum wage.

For small employers with 1-25 employees, the wage will be $10.50 per hour.

For large employers with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage will increase to $12.00 per hour.

In addition, for employee of hotels, the minimum wage will increase to $15.66 per hour.

California picFinally, the sales tax in the City of Santa Monica will increase to 10.25%, making it one of the highest in the nation.  California has the highest state-level sales tax rate, at 7.25%.

The five states with the highest average combined state and local sales tax rates are Louisiana (9.98 percent), Tennessee (9.46 percent), Arkansas (9.30 percent), Alabama (9.01 percent), and Washington (8.92 percent).

The five states with the lowest average combined rates are Alaska (1.76 percent), Hawaii (4.35 percent), Wyoming (5.40 percent), Wisconsin (5.42 percent), and Maine (5.5 percent).

Action Plan: Continue reading

DHS Announces New International Entrepreneur Parole Option for Startup Founders

international-flags**Please note, on July 10, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security postponed implementation of the Entrepreneur Parole Rule March 2018.

On January 17, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a new immigration avenue for foreign entrepreneurs who benefit the U.S economy. The “International Entrepreneur Rule” will serve as a pathway for qualified investors and foreign entrepreneurs to develop business enterprises which have significant public benefit in the United States.

This exciting news for start-ups and foreign entrepreneurs comes as a much welcomed development for those frustrated by the lack of immigration options available through the existing U.S. visas, which generally are not oriented to companies that are still in start-up mode.

Requirements

uscisThis new rule will be effective on July 17, 2017 and it will allow certain international entrepreneurs, on a case-by-case basis, to remain in the United States for up to five years in order to start or expand their businesses.  To secure the parole, three prerequisites are required: (1) applicant must submit the required application; (2) the application must be approved; and (3) a physical entry into the United States with the parole status is required. Continue reading

How to Comply With E-Verify Requirements

712fv2lM04L.pngby Jennifer Grady, Esq.

On November 2, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice increased monetary penalties substantially for employers who knowingly employ an unauthorized worker. Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), it is unlawful for an employer to hire or continue to employ a person knowing that the person is not authorized to work in the United States. This law requires that employers verify employment eligibility of all employees by completing a Form I-9.  Failure to comply with these rules subjects employers to substantial penalties. 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

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

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