Sexual Harassment Training Requirements by State

As the #MeToo movement has grown over the past two years, and claims against powerful individuals continue to surface in the media and on social media, employers and companies need to adjust their response polices as one thing is clear: sexual claims are very real, very expensive, and very destructive.

The following cases are real-world examples of how sexual harassment claims can cost employers in terms of time, money, and employee morale, and can cause pain and distress to employees.

  • 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.
  • Two female employees at a California winery were subject to repeated sexual harassment by the winery’s general manager and then subsequently retaliated against by the company. A Los Angeles jury awarded $11 million dollars to the two women. Each woman received $1 million for past emotional distress; $1.5 million for future emotional distress and $3 million in punitive damages. In addition to the $11 million dollars to the women, their attorneys will also receive their attorney’s fees.
  • Ford announced it would pay up to $10.1 million to settle a racial- and sexual-harassment investigation at two Chicago plants. 
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12 Cities in California to Raise Minimum Wage Again on July 1, 2019

It’s that time to update your payroll again! Twelve cities and counties throughout the state of California will again be updating their minimum wage. Until December 31, 2019, the current state-wide California minimum wage is $11.00 per hour for companies with 25 or fewer employees, and $12.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees. You can find the most updated information about California minimum wage on the Department of Industrial Relations website. The minimum wage shall be adjusted on a yearly basis through 2023 according to the pre-set schedule shown on the DIR website.

The following cities will be updating their minimum wage to reflect the following hourly rates below. Of note, some cities have different wages based on the number of employees they have–25 or less, or 26 or more:

  • Alameda – $13.50
  • Berkeley – $15.59
  • Emeryville – $16.30
  • Fremont (26 or more employees) – $13.50
  • City of Los Angeles (25 or fewer employees) – $13.25
  • City of Los Angeles (26 or more employees) – $14.25
  • Unincorporated Los Angeles County (25 or fewer) – $13.25 (Unincorporated LA County generally mirrors the minimum wage rates in the City of Los Angeles)
  • Unincorporated Los Angeles County (26 or more) – $14.25
  • Malibu (25 or fewer employees) – $13.25
  • Malibu (26 or more employees) – $14.25
  • Milpitas – $15.00
  • Pasadena (25 or fewer employees) – $13.25
  • Pasadena (26 or more) – $14.25
  • San Francisco – $15.59
  • San Leandro – $14.00
  • Santa Monica (25 or fewer employees) – $13.25
  • Santa Monica (26 or more employees) – $14.25

Be sure to inform your payroll company or and accounting department of these changes. In addition, changes in minimum wage may affect an employee’s exempt or non-exempt status, so it’s important to review how the change in minimum wage may affect this classification.

It’s always a good idea to provide your employees with an updated Notice to Employee form that reflects their change in wages. This form must be distributed to employees by California Labor Code section 2810.5. Please check your employees’ personnel files to ensure this form has been provided to them, and reflects the company’s up-to-date Paid Sick Leave and worker’s compensation information.

For more information on California minimum wage, or to review your current employment law policies and documentation, contact The Grady Firm.

About The Grady Firm. P.C.

JGrady Firm-Logo-2016

The Grady Firm, P.C. attorneys provide our clients with the tools to arm themselves and minimize risk with general employment law counseling; I-9 audits, custom Employee Handbooks; assistance with hiring, firing, discipline, leave, and termination; personnel file forms and audits; and sexual harassment and leadership training in English and Spanish. In addition, by combining years of experience as legal counsel for both U.S. and international companies, The Grady Firm acts as the outsourced Global Mobility Department for multi-national corporations seeking to move personnel across borders with visas and Green Cards based on employment, investment, and family relations.

Click here to 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.

Don’t Wait Until Q4! Book Your Sexual Harassment Prevention Training by May 20 and Receive a Discount

California employment law now requires that employers with 5 or more employees provide one (1) hour of training to employees at least once every two years; and two (2) hours of training to managers within six months of hire or promotion, and every two years thereafter. This training must be completed by January 1, 2020, even if employees were just trained in 2018. A recent professional association survey found that over 80% of Human Resources and Operations Managers are aware of the new training requirements, but have not booked training for their employees. This means that there will likely be a rush to find suitable training options in November or December, and training professionals may already be booked for the end of the year.

To avoid the Fourth Quarter rush, The Grady Firm has a solution. Now through May 20th, The Grady Firm is offering $150 off our full-day, and $50 off our half-day, on-site Sexual Harassment Prevention Training program*.

The Grady Firm provides on-site, classroom-style training in
English and Spanish, and includes custom-drafted materials, such as our
Proprietary Power Point Presentation, Certificates of Participation, Quizzes, and Anti-Harassment Policy. Don’t let your employees fall asleep or tune-out with traditional online training!

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How to Obtain Temporary Training or Employment in the United States as a Foreign Physician

Foreign physicians looking to advance their specialized careers in the United States can gain valuable experience and connections by working a physicians or fellows.

Generally, there are two visa classification options available to foreign physicians seeking temporary employment or training in the United States: (1) the J-1 Exchange Visitor Physician Program, and (2) the H-1B Specialty Occupation classification. Each of these classifications has unique requirements and benefits, but both require that the applicant demonstrate that he or she has obtained the required licenses and training necessary to practice in both the United States and the specific state of intended practice.

  1. J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR PHYSICIAN PROGRAM

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Physician Program permits foreign physicians and medical graduates to participate in U.S. graduate medical education programs or training at accredited U.S. schools of medicine.  However, the J-1 classification does not permit full employment as a physician in the United States because the program focuses on providing graduate medical education or training in a specialty or sub-specialty occupation. Therefore, the J-1 is best suited to a foreign physician or medical graduate that wishes to gain additional education or clinical training at a United States-based institution.

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Is Your Company Prepared for an I-9 Audit? What to Expect During and After a Visit from ICE or DHS

ICE auditWhile immigration enforcement and oversight have occurred under the purview of all past presidents, the Trump Administration has publicly made them a leading policy priority.  Immigration raids and detentions at the border are the most visible aspects of this policy, but administrative oversight of employment documentation has also increased and will likely have the greatest impact on the majority of employers. One area where this is especially true is with Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s oversight of employer’s I-9 forms.

Worksite immigration enforcement rose drastically in the fiscal year 2018 compared to the previous year, following a commitment made by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in late 2017 to step up its worksite enforcement efforts across the country.

All worksite enforcement categories surged by 300 to 750% over the previous fiscal year. Here are some surprising numbers:

• 6,848 worksite investigations in 2018 compared to 1,691 in 2017;
• 5,981 I-9 audits in 2018 compared to 1,360 in 2017;
• 779 criminal arrests compared to 139 in 2017 (including arrests and indictments of managers); and
• 1,525 administrative worksite-related arrests compared to 172 in 2017.

What is an I-9 Form?

i-9The I-9 Form is an instrumental part of the new employee on-boarding process, and should be completed within the first 3 days of hire.  This form is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States, including both citizens and non-citizens. Failure to maintain proper I-9s can lead to a variety of monetary fines or even criminal penalties if an employer intentionally misrepresents I-9 information.

What Can Go Wrong? During an Audit

On its face, the I-9 form appears to be a fairly simple and straightforward document. However, many employers fail to accurately input all required documentation, fail to obtain proper employee documentation, or fail to properly store and maintain I-9 records. Any of these oversights can lead to potentially costly fines in the event of an audit. Our clients who have been officially audited told us that ICE reviewed every line of an I-9 form for accuracy and will issue fines for every entry that is inaccurate. Therefore, it is vital that employees responsible for handling I-9 documentation be fully trained with respect to I-9 procedures. For a detailed overview of the I-9 process, see our previous article, 6 Tips for Avoiding Costly I-9 Mistakes. Continue reading

The Grady Firm, P.C. Speaks at the 40th Annual California Landscape Contractors Association Landscape Industry Show

ODSC09291n February 7, 2019, Jennifer Grady, Esq. and Anthony Mance, Esq. of the Grady Firm spoke to landscape company owners and operators at the 40th Annual California Landscape Contractors Association Landscape Industry Show in Ontario, California.

Jennifer and Anthony addressed what do to in the event of an immigration-related site visit by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and/or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They discussed real-world examples with the audience, and provided recommendations on how to create a site visit plan and train company staff on how to best respond in the event of a site visit.

In addition, they discussed procedures and tips for applying for the highly coveted H-2B temporary non-agricultural visas, which are used for employers who need additional workers on a temporary seasonal or peak-load need over a period of nine months.  These visas are commonly used by landscape contractors, hotels, amusement parks, ski resorts, fishermen, and other industries with a  seasonal or short-term need.

landscape contractorThis was the firm’s second time presenting at this show, and Jennifer and Anthony have provided numerous webinars for the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) over the last few years on immigration and employment law topics. Continue reading

H-2B Visas for Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers

landscape contractorThe H-2B visa permits US employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States for the purposes of filling temporary, non-agricultural jobs.  It is commonly used for occupations in the hospitality (hotels, ski resorts), retail, and service industries (landscape contractors).

Congress has set a numerical limit, or “cap” on the number of H-2B visas to be issued on an annual basis, currently set at 66,000 per fiscal year.  The cap is split into two parts: 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 – March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 – December 31). H-2B visas are valid for a period of 9 months.

Who May Qualify for H-2B Classification?

ski instructorTo qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner must establish that:

  • There are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
  • Employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
  • Its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as temporary.  The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is a(n):
  • Its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as temporary.  The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is a(n):

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All California Employers with 5+ Employees Must Provide Sexual Harassment Training in 2019, Even if Trained in 2018

HARASSMENTOn September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law S.B. 1343, which now requires that employers with 5 or more employees in California provide 1 hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct training to non-managerial employees, and 2 hours for managerial employees once every two years. Managerial employees must receive training within 6 months of hire or promotion.

BY WHAT DATE MUST EMPLOYEES BE TRAINED?

calendarAll managerial and non-managerial employees must receive training by January 1, 2020. After January 1, 2020, employees must be retrained once every two years. That means that all employees statewide must be retrained again by January 1, 2022.

WHAT IF MY EMPLOYEES WERE TRAINED BETWEEN JANUARY 1 AND DECEMBER 31, 2018?

The law requires that employees be trained during calendar year 2019. According to the recently released DFEH FAQsemployees who were trained in 2018 or before will need to be retrained.

S.B. 1343 requires that the California Department of Employment and Fair Housing (DFEH) make online training courses available on the prevention of sexual harassment and abusive conduct in the workplace. However, DFEH does not expect to have such trainings available until late 2019. Therefore, in order to ensure that your employees receive the required training by January 1, 2020, it is best to schedule training now to secure the availability of a trainer, account for any employee make-up sessions, and to train in multiple sessions to stagger the number of employees who are taken away from work to attend training. Continue reading

When Is the Best Time to Apply for an H-1B Employee Visa?

H-1B visaThe most highly anticipated visa of the year begins its application season in Q1 2019. The coveted H-1B visa allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in jobs that are “specialty occupation” positions, which involve the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge.  H-1B visa holders often possess STEM degrees, such as jobs in fields such as science, engineering, logistics, and information technology.  To apply for an H-1B visa, the applicant must have a bona fide job offer from a U.S. employer, a Bachelor’s Degree or higher in their specific specialty or its equivalent, and meet the other requirements of the visa.

The H-1B visa is valid for three years, with an optional three-year extension, and provides the employee with the opportunity to apply for a Green Card if sponsored by the employer.  Accordingly, because the H-1B visa can last for 6 years (and even longer under some circumstances), the H-1B visa is one of the most popular ways for foreign professionals obtain a work visa, and ultimately, a Green Card in the United States. 

US FlagAs H-1B applications require a third-party academic credential evaluation of foreign degrees and the processing of a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labor before an applicant is eligible to file an H-1B application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), H-1B applications can take 2-4 months to prepare.  Therefore, a prudent applicant will begin his or her application preparation in December or January because it can take several months to get documentation prepared and signed by the employer, obtain important documents from third parties, and have the application prepared by an attorney. Continue reading

New Year, New Company Policies

business partnersAs companies grow and evolve over time, it soon becomes clear that they will outgrow their employee and operations policies–that is, if they even had any in the first place!  The best time for a CEO, COO, CFO, and Human Resources Department is to reassess these policies is at the end of the year, and to roll out new policies at the start of a new year.  Every January, there are changes that will take place anyway (such as updated IRS mileage reimbursement rates and local minimum wage rates), so it’s a good time to include policy updates when you provide this information to employees all at once.  There are numerous policies you can begin revising now to issue to your staff in January. Read further to begin your end of year action plan:

1. Employee Handbook

EmployeeHandbook_Pop_6467.jpgThe first item that should be addressed is the company Employee Handbook. If your company does not have one, or has not updated an existing one in more than a year, it’s time to speak with an attorney about creating or updating your Handbook.  In fact, for companies that have more than 5 employees, a Handbook is a no-brainer because it will have clauses in it that you are required to provide to employees (for example, Pregnancy Disability Leave is available for employees at companies with 5 or more employees, and the Employee Handbook is the best place to provide this information to employees).  Besides using the Handbook as the opportunity to explain all of the California mandatory leave-laws, paid sick leave time, and cell phone reimbursement policy, you can use this as a forum to explain the company’s social media, use of technology, dress code, tardiness, absentee, and drug/alcohol use policies. You can also outline which behaviors will result in discipline or termination. Continue reading

Will the H-1B Lottery Change in 2019?

H-1B visaIn an attempt to change the lottery system for H-1B applications, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a rule that would require all H-1B petitioners to pre-register online for the H-1B lottery prior to submitting their H-1B filings. According to the proposed rule, only those H-1B petitions that have been selected in the lottery could then be submitted for the adjudication by USCIS. The rule is currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OBM), which is the first step toward implementing such changes.

Other proposed changes would benefit applicants with Master’s Degrees by adding them to the initial round of 65,000 Bachelor’s Degree applicant visa spots lottery.  Then, if there are any Master’s Degree applications left over after the initial lottery round, the remaining Master’s Degree applications will be added to the lottery for the remaining 20,000 Master’s Degree cap. Continue reading

Has Your Company Been Reimbursing its Employees for Personal Cell Phone Use on the Job?

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

cell phone 2Since January 1, 2016, California employers must reimburse employees for use of their personal cell phones for mandatory business purposes.  (Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc). This ruling affects millions of employers who must update their company policies in order to stay compliant with the new law.  While this law has been on the books for over two years now, it appears as though many companies have not addressed this law or made it part of their employee reimbursement practices.  Is your company reimbursing its employees for their cell phone call and data usage?  Read below for policy suggestions.

What does this mean for employers?

According to Cochran, California employers must indemnify employees for all “necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer.” Unfortunately, even four years after this case was decided, the exact measure of reimbursement is still somewhat unclear.  While the court in Cochran determined that employers must consistently reimburse employees a “reasonable percentage,” it did not define what is reasonable. Furthermore, the employer must reimburse the employee even if the employee does not incur any additional expense on his or her cell phone/data plan as the result of using the device for work-related purposes (i.e. if the client has unlimited talk, text, and data plans).

This law is now reflected in California Labor Code section 2082: Continue reading

Must-Read for All Employers: Gov. Brown Further Expands Sexual Harassment Laws in California

Brown lawOn September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed over a dozen bills into law with the intent on making the Golden State the leader in the nation on the much-analyzed and discussed topic of sexual harassment.

Governor Brown signed his last bill on Sunday night.  Over his career, he signed nearly 20,000 bills, including 1,016 this year. The new laws, on a range of issues from climate change to criminal justice to gender issues, place California on the “left coast” politically.  Brown’s ambitions can be summarized by his statement that, “We are going to be the moral compass and the policy trendsetter of the country.”

While these new laws will benefit employees and address serious and relevant issues, they will continue to place more demands on employers across California who attempt to comply with the most legislated corporate territory in the country.

A full list of Governor Browns approvals and vetoes can be found in his Legislative Update.  Of the dozens of bills signed into law on September 30, the most relevant on this topic include the following: Continue reading

California Passes Law Requiring Boards of Publicly-Held Corporations to Include Women by 2019 (SB 826)

woman on boardOn September 30, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a radical initiative to add women to corporate boards of directors for publicly-held corporations headquartered in California.   According to Brown in a letter to the California State Senate, “Given all the special privileges that corporations have enjoyed for so long, it’s high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half the ‘persons’ in America.”  The California Senate approved Senate Bill 826 by a vote of 23 to 9 after the State Assembly narrowly passed the proposal with the bare minimum 41 votes a day earlier.  The Bill was then approved by the Governor and filed with the California Secretary of State.

Brown lawIn an effort to “close the gender gap” in business, the new law requires publicly traded corporations whose principal executive offices are headquartered in California to include at least one woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019.  By December 31, 2021, this requirement will expand to require that a minimum of two women must sit on boards with five (5) members, and there must be at least three women on boards with six or more (6+) members.  The corporations’ SEC 10-K form will be used to determine the location of the principal executive offices.

The bill requires that by July 1, 2019, the Secretary of State publish the number of domestic and foreign corporations whose principal executive offices are located in California and who have at least one female director. The bill also authorizes the Secretary of State to impose fines for violations of the bill, and provides that funds from these fines are to be available, upon appropriation, to offset the cost of administering the bill.

Penalties for non-compliance will be high, including fines of $100,000 for a first violation and $300,000 for a second or subsequent violation.  Companies must demonstrate their compliance by filing their board member information with the Secretary of State by the respective deadlines. Continue reading

Updates to California Labor Law Posters

CapitolStay up to date with recent changes to California labor law posters!  In order for your business to stay in compliance with these recent changes, the updated posting(s) must be downloaded, printed, and then posted next to your current labor law poster. Remember, labor law posters must be posted in a conspicuous location so that all employees may see them.

1. EDD- Unemployment Insurance, Disability Insurance, Paid Family Leave:

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) has updated its EDD notice regarding Unemployment Insurance, Disability Insurance, and Paid Family Leave. The updated notice reflects a change to the online application platform, as well as formatting changes. The department recommends maintaining updated information, however, this update will not be mandatory until January 1, 2019. The poster revision date is August 8, 2018.

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