At the start of every New Year, we take on new goals, new resolutions, and new hobbies. If you’re an employer in California, you’ll have to take on new employment laws and requirements in 2017 as well. This article will highlight both new laws and updates to existing provisions in California.
Federal Minimum Wage for Exempt Employees (Starting December 1, 2016)
Effective December 1, 2016, the federal minimum salary for exempt employees will increase from $454 per week ($23,660/year) to $913 per week ($47,476/year). Up to 10% of the salary can be met with nondiscretionary bonuses, incentive payments and or commissions if the employer pays them at least quarterly. The increase in salary will not affect outside sales or inside retail sales exemptions. To read more about this, click here.
Employers are reminded that an exempt employee must not only meet the salary test, but they also must meet the exempt duties test for executive, administrative, professional, or outside salespersons.
Schedule for California Minimum Wage
Schedule for the City of Los Angeles Minimum Wage and Unincorporated Areas of Los Angeles County
A.B. 1732: Single-User Restrooms (Starting March 1, 2017)
This new bill mandates that all toilet facilities at any business establishment, public property, or state/local government agency that are considered single-user (or single-occupant) must be identified and labeled as all-gender toilet facilities. This new law aims to provide equal access to all people regardless of their gender. These single-occupant restrooms must be designated for single-use, family use, or assisted use.
A.B. 1732 defines a “single-user toilet facility” as a toilet facility with no more than one toilet stall and one urinal that has a user-controlled locking mechanism. Enforcement of this new law will be performed by inspectors, building officials, and other locally designated officials.
A.B. 1843: Juvenile Criminal History (Starting January 1, 2017)
A.B. 1843 prohibits employers from acting upon or asking for information about juvenile records from job applicants.
A.B. 2337: Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking (By July 1, 2017)
This bill adds a subsection to Section 230.1 of the Labor Code that will require employers with 25 or more employees to provide notice in writing (to new employees upon hire and existing employees upon request) of the employee’s rights listed in Labor Code Section 230.1 to take leave if they are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking may take leave from work, participate in safety planning, seek psychological counseling, and seek medical attention.
A.B. 2535: Itemized Wage Statements (Starting January 1, 2017)
A.B. 2535 revises an existing law in California Labor Code Section 226 to state that employers do not have to provide the total hours worked in the itemized wage statements of an exempt employee. Previously, Section 226 required total hours worked to be listed, unless the exempt employee was salaried and exempt from overtime pay. Employers are still required to provide the total number of hours worked in the itemized wage statements of non-exempt employees.
S.B. 1001: Unfair Immigration Related Practices (Starting January 1, 2017)
Senate Bill 1001 adds a new section (Section 1019.1) to California’s Labor Code which prohibits employers who are in the process of verifying a workers’ eligibility to work in the United States, from:
- Requesting informational documents that are different from or more than what is required by federal law
- Refusing to accept and honor documents which appear to be valid and on their face appear to be genuine
- Refusing to honor an employee’s documents or work authorization based on the specific status or term of status of the employee
- Trying to re-open an investigation or verification process for an existing employee’s work authorization
With the addition of Labor Code Section 1019.1 under this new bill, job applicants and employees who feel they are a victim of an employer’s “unfair immigration-related practice” may file a complaint with the Department of Labor Standards and Enforcement. In addition to alternative relief, violators may be imposed a penalty of no more than $10,000 per violation.
S.B. 1001 ties heavily into the newly revised Form I-9 issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Starting January 22, 2017, employers are required to begin using the newest version of the Form I-9. To read more, please see our previous article here.
Information on California’s Equal Pay Act can be found under Labor Code Section 1197.5. The Equal Pay Act bars employers from paying different wages to employees of opposite sex for “substantially similar work” when their duties are considered “a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.”
An employer is not considered to be in violation of the Equal Pay Act if he/she is able to prove that any differences in wage between employees of opposite sex are based upon:
a system of merit, a system of seniority, a system which quantifies or qualifies wage based on production, level of education, or amount of experience or training.
S.B. 1063 is an amendment to Labor Code Section 1975.5(b) which expands California’s pay equality protections. These protections now cover race and ethnicity in addition to gender.
A.B. 1676 is also an amendment to the Equal Pay Act, and adds this provision to Section 1197.5:
- “[p]rior salary shall not, by itself, justify any disparity in compensation”
S.B. 1241: Venue and Choice of Law Provisions in Employment Agreements (Starting January 1, 2017)
The new Section 925 is added to the Labor Code by Senate Bill 1241. This new provision protects employees who reside and work in California. It is illegal for an employer, as a condition of employment, to require an employee to enter into an agreement that does either of the following:
- Requires an employee to arbitrate, adjudicate, or litigate a legal claim outside of California if the claim is California-based
- Taking away the employee’s protection under California law for a claim or controversy arising in California
S.B. 1241 basically takes away the employer’s choice of law and requires companies to come to California to litigate any California-based employment claims under California law, even if their headquarters are located elsewhere. If any provision or part of an employment contract violates this new law starting January 1, 2017, the contract may be voided by the employee, and any dispute that arises will be adjudicated under California law. The employee is legally entitled to recover any reasonable attorneys’ fees during this process.
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Keeping track of these new laws and changes in the workplace may be a handful, especially if you're an employer or business owner. Schedule a free consultation today with one of our experienced employment law attorneys and make sure your business practices are up-to-date. Just call (626) 307-2800. Our offices serve clients throughout Southern California, including Los Angeles, Rosemead, Pasadena, Arcadia, and San Gabriel.