What You need to Know about Converting Independent Contractors to to Employees by January 1, 2019

On September 18, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law A.B. 5, solidifying a tighter standard of rules for classifying a worker as an independent contractor. The new standard, known as the Dynamex standard, codifies and expands the earlier California Supreme Court decision, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. It  replaces the former Borello test, and puts in place a more simple three-pronged ABC test. The significant effect is that many workers in California will now be classified as employees instead of independent contractors (also informally known as “1099” workers). This change is one of the most significant disruptions to California employment law in decades. The law will take effect on January 1, 2020.

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Deadline Changed on Time to Comply with California Anti-Harassment Training

On September 3, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 778 to extend the deadline for employers to complete their Sexual Harassment Prevention Training. The deadline has been extended by a full year, from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021. The new bill also allows covered employers who have provided anti-harassment training in 2019 to wait two full years before providing refresher training.

The purpose of the bill is to give employers sufficient time to provide these trainings in a manner that values their importance and provides a greater impact towards improving equality in the workplace. A recent professional association survey found that over 80% of Human Resources and Operations Managers are aware of the new training requirements, but had not booked the training for their employees nine months into 2019.

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Jennifer Grady Navigates Tricky Legal Situations in the Workplace on AutoVitals Digital Shoptalk Radio

On September 4, 2019,  Jennifer Grady, Esq. was featured on episode 31 “Legally Speaking: Handling Tough Legal Situations” of The AutoVitals Digital ShopTalk Radio, with host Tom Dorsey, to discuss a myriad of legal situations that can arise in a workplace from Sexual Harassment to record-keeping and what new business owners and employers need to know to be successful.

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Jennifer Grady Discusses How to Prevent Sexual Harassment Lawsuits “Remarkable Results Radio”

On August 9, 2019, Jennifer Grady, Esq. was featured on episode 456 of The Remarkable Results Radio, with host Carm Capriotto, to discuss Sexual Harassment in the workplace and what employers can do to prevent it.

Key Talking Points

During the radio show, Jennifer and Carm discussed important points on sexual harassment in the workplace including:

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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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“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

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

Paid Time Off To Vote? California Law Provides Employees With Up To 2 Hours on Election Day

election-dayCalifornia Elections Code section 14000 mandates that if employees do not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote in a statewide election, then they may take up to 2 hours of paid time off to vote in-person.  An employee may choose to take more than two hours off, if his or her employer allows it, but only 2 hours will be paid.

California polls will be open from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. on election day.  However, be sure to check with your local polling place for their hours of operation, as some locations may have extended hours. Continue reading

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

Although 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, 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

holiday-bar1

While having alcohol available may make typical water cooler conversations less awkward, it can lead to liability for employers in the form of vicarious liability, sexual harassment, social host liability, and other potential issues.

Even though refraining from serving alcohol altogether is the safest option, in the event that your company plans to serve alcohol at you next function, keep the following tips in mind: Continue reading

URGENT: Employers MUST Post New Federal Minimum Wage and Polygraph Posters By August 1, 2016

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ATTENTION all Employers:

The Department of Labor recently revised the federal mandatory minimum wage and polygraph posters that employers must post in the workplace.

Although the federal minimum wage did not change, the new minimum wage poster now contains information regarding the consequences of incorrectly classifying workers as independent contractors, in addition to a new section on the rights of nursing mothers.

The new federal polygraph poster now contains updated contact information for the Department of Labor, and no longer contains a reference to the penalty amount of up to $10,000 for violation of the law.

employment posterEmployers are required to post the updated posters in a conspicuous area of the workplace by no later than August 1, 2016. Continue reading

Santa Monica, CA Minimum Wage Increase to Take Effect on July 1, 2016

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On April 28, 2016, the Santa Monica City Council adopted a mandatory minimum wage increase to $10.50 per hour, which will take effect on July 1, 2016.

Santa Monica’s new ordinance mirrors the minimum wage laws adopted by Los Angeles earlier this year. Continue reading

Los Angeles Employers May Soon Be Required to Provide 6 Days of Paid Sick Leave Per Year

sick leaveOn April 19, 2016, the Los Angeles City Council approved a measure that would require employers in the City of Los Angeles to provide their employees with six days, or 48 hours, of paid sick leave.  Pending an approved ordinance drafted by the City Attorney, the requirement will become effective on July 1, 2016.  This would be three days more per year than the State of California’s paid sick leave requirements which took effect on July 1, 2015.

The ordinance would apply to employees who who work for the same employer in the City of Los Angeles for thirty days or more per year , and would begin on the first day of employment, or July 1, 2016, whichever is later. Employers who contract with the city of Los Angeles will still be required to give their employees twelve days, or 96 hours, of paid sick leave. Workers in Los Angeles would not be paid for unused sick days, but accrued time could be carried over to the next year. Businesses could cap that accrued time at 72 hours, or set a higher cap or none at all.

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Changes to California Employment Laws in 2015 that Every Employer Should Know

By Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. and Gayane Khechoomian, Esq.

California-State-Capitol1The California Legislature was quite active in 2014, resulting in several substantial changes to the law for 2015 that are employee-friendly.  Employers should take note of the changes to the law described below.

I. CHANGES TO WAGE AND LABOR LAWS

1. Minimum Wage Increases

The minimum wage increased statewide, with even higher increases in particular cities:

  • California’s minimum wage of $9.00 will increase again to $10.00 on January 1, 2016;
  • San Francisco wages will increase to $11.05 on January 1, 2015; then to $12.25 in May; wages will increase every year thereafter until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 in 2018;
  • Oakland will increase to $12.25 on March 2, 2015;
  • San Diego will increase to $9.75 on January 1, 2015;
  • Note: exempt employees must meet new minimum wage laws

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Can’t I Just Hire an Intern? What Employers Need to Know to Stay Compliant With California Law

By Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. and Gayane Khechoomian, Esq.

Photo Credit Buzzghana.com

Photo Credit Buzzghana.com

Internship programs provide great benefits to businesses and interns alike, but employers must comply with both California and Federal laws in order to avoid potential lawsuits and fines.

To clarify, a person hired as an unpaid intern must (1) be a student enrolled in an accredited academic program and receive academic credit for the internship, or (2) be enrolled in a program that provides training and is approved by a public agency.  If the intern is not part of an accredited program, the employer must pay the intern at least minimum wage for all hours worked. Continue reading