• Posts by Julia Y. Trankiem
    Posts by Julia Y. Trankiem
    Partner

    Julia’s practice focuses on the representation of management in a broad range of employment matters under state and federal law. Julia extensively collaborates and partners with companies to solve complex employment issues ...

Time 3 Minute Read

California lawmakers are considering passing a bill that would give employees the “right to disconnect” by ignoring after-hours calls, emails, and other communications from their employers.  The bill, AB 2751, introduced by Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), would add a Section 1198.2 to the Labor Code that would effectively prevent employers from contacting employees outside of working hours, with limited exceptions.

Time 4 Minute Read

In a welcome win for defendants litigating claims under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), earlier this month a Northern District of Illinois magistrate judge denied a plaintiff’s motion to compel communications between defendant Union Pacific Railroad Company (“Union Pacific”) and the vendors that provided it with fingerprint-activated security gates.  Fleury v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., No. 20 C 390, 2024 WL 1620613, at *4-6 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 15, 2024).  In so doing, the court implicitly affirmed that, in a BIPA lawsuit, the common interest doctrine presumptively protects the communications between biometric technology vendors and their customers, regardless of which entities are named as defendants.  This ruling is a powerful tool in the BIPA landscape for employers (who are typically the customers in this scenario) and other defendants alike because it supports the ability of BIPA defendants to coordinate their defense strategy with entities who share their legal interest.  The opinion is also a good reminder, however, that vendors and their customers should use best practices early on in a BIPA litigation to maximize the scope of the common interest doctrine.

Time 3 Minute Read

Starting January 1, 2024, eligible California employees are entitled to protected leave following a reproductive loss.  This law, California Senate Bill 848, codified at California Government Code section 12945.6, builds on California’s 2023 bereavement leave law, which provided five days of unpaid bereavement leave to eligible employees following the death of a covered family member.

Time 3 Minute Read

California employers must revamp their sick leave policies ahead of the New Year.  On October 4, 2023, Governor Newsom signed SB 616 into law, thereby amending the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014.  The new law goes into effect January 1, 2024.

Time 3 Minute Read

Courts have repeatedly upheld California’s “strong public policy” prohibiting agreements that restrain individuals from “engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind.”  Indeed, under Section 16600 of the California Business and Professions Code, these agreements—generally referred to as noncompete agreements—are generally void.  California now seeks to enshrine additional laws strengthening its prohibition on noncompete agreements.

Time 6 Minute Read

California employers: take notice.  On July 24, 2023, the Office of Administrative Law approved changes to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) regulations governing how California employers can use and consider criminal history in employment decisions.  These new changes, modifying Cal. Code Regs. Tit. 2, § 11017.1, go into effect on October 1, 2023.

Time 3 Minute Read

California’s new bereavement leave law, which became effective beginning January 1, 2023, requires most employers to allow their employees to take up to five days of leave upon the death of certain family members.  Although previous bills providing for bereavement leave had been stymied by vetoes, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the new legislation—Assembly Bill (“AB”) 1949—into law as an “important step” to ensure that low-wage workers “can access the time off they’ve earned while still providing for their family.”  The new law makes California one of the few states requiring employers to provide bereavement leave.

Time 3 Minute Read

As we reported in September, effective January 1, 2023, employers face a host of pay disclosure and recordkeeping obligations.  The DLSE, the agency in charge of implementing the new law (codified at California Labor Code section 432.3), recently published guidance on the parameters of the new law.

Time 1 Minute Read

Among the new employment laws in effect this new year is the expansion of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) to include “reproductive health decision-making” in the list of classifications protected by the FEHA.  Accordingly, the FEHA now expressly prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on employees’ reproductive health-decision-making.  The FEHA also makes it unlawful for an employer to require, as a condition of employment, continued employment, or a benefit of employment, the disclosure of information relating to an applicant’s or employee’s reproductive health decision-making.

Time 3 Minute Read

The New Year usually means new laws for California employers.  This year, a new privacy law goes into effect with new mandates for employers to ensure that workers have more control over the collection and use of their personal information.

Come January 1, 2023, companies that employ California residents need to make sure they have taken the required steps to comply with the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”), which amends the landmark California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) by expanding its protections to employees, job applicants, and independent contractors.

Time 2 Minute Read

On September 18, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill (“AB”) 2188, which prohibits employer discrimination based on employees’ use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace.  While recreational use of cannabis, or marijuana, has been legal in California since 2016, the new law goes farther in specifically providing protections for employees who consume the substance.  AB 2188 makes California the most recent state to provide workplace protections for use of marijuana away from the workplace.  The bill will become effective beginning January 1, 2024.

Time 2 Minute Read

Assembly Bill 1651 or the Workplace Technology Accountability Act, a new bill proposed by California Assembly Member Ash Kalra, would regulate employers, and their vendors, regarding the use of employee data.  Under the bill, data is defined as “any information that identifies, relates to, describes, is reasonably capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular worker, regardless of how the information is collected, inferred, or obtained.”   Examples of data include personal identity information; biometric information; health, medical, lifestyle, and wellness information; any data related to workplace activities; and online information.  The bill confers certain data rights on employees, including the right to access and correct their data.

Time 2 Minute Read

Assembly Bill 2932, a new bill proposed by California Assembly Members Evan Low and Cristina Garcia, would amend Section 510 of the California Labor Code to change the workweek from the standard 40-hour workweek to a 32-hour workweek for companies with more than 500 employees.

Time 3 Minute Read

Governor Newsom has signed SB 331 (the “Silenced No More Act”) into law.  As discussed in our prior blog post, SB 331 will expand the existing restrictions on the confidentiality provisions recently put into place by SB 820 (which restricts the usage of confidentiality provisions in agreements related to sexual assault, harassment, or harassment) to also restrict the usage of confidentiality provisions related to all claims of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation under the FEHA.

Time 5 Minute Read

In a huge win for California employers, the California Court of Appeals recently confirmed that courts have discretion to strike claims for penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”) if the claims will be unmanageable at trial.  This decision will help employers defeat—or significantly pare down—the broad and unwieldy claims for PAGA penalties that have become popular with the plaintiffs’ bar.

Time 4 Minute Read

Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) recently issued new public health requirements in response to the increasing number of hospitalizations and ICU patients in California caused by the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.

Time 4 Minute Read

On April 16, 2021, Governor Newsom approved S.B. 93, a statewide COVID right-to-recall law that faltered on its first attempt last October.  In the interim, a number of counties and cities (including the Cities of Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, and Pasadena, and Los Angeles County) passed almost identical measures, which will remain in effect to the extent they are more generous than the state law.

Like the local ordinances, the state law is time-limited and directed to the industries with workforces most decimated by COVID: hotels, event centers, private clubs, airport hospitality operations, airport service providers and janitorial, maintenance and security services for commercial buildings. Through December 31, 2024, employers in those industries are required to notify those laid off because of COVID about newly-available positions, and offer them to the laid-off employees based on a qualification-based preference system. Post-layoff changes in ownership, the form of the organization, or the location of the business will not excuse an employer from these recall protocols, as long as the business conducts the same or substantially similar operations as it did before the pandemic.

Time 4 Minute Read

California employers may mandate employee vaccination under new guidance from the State’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).  With the opening up of California businesses and expansion of vaccine eligibility, a key question facing employers has been whether they can require their employees to get vaccinated.  On March 4, 2021, California’s DFEH finally weighed in with its updated COVID-19 Guidance on several open questions regarding employee vaccination under California law.  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provided similar initial guidance late last year on how mandatory vaccination programs could comply with federal law.

Time 4 Minute Read

Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the employment law landscape has continued to change at a rapid pace.  This includes recent changes to federal, state, and local leave requirements for COVID-19 related sick leave.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), employers with fewer than 500 employees were required to provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave effective April 1, 2020.  The FFCRA leave requirements expired on December 31, 2020.

In California, the requirement to provide statewide supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons also expired on December 31, 2020.  However, many localities continue to maintain COVID-19 sick leave requirements.  These local laws were enacted to cover employers with 500 or more employees that were not required to provide paid sick leave benefits under the FFCRA and to provide up to 80 hours of sick leave for covered employees.

Time 5 Minute Read

California has enacted a number of new laws (some of these have been covered in more detail on this blog and are linked below). The following are the most significant changes that California employers can expect as we move into the new year:

Time 3 Minute Read

In response to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 685.  In short, AB 685 imposes uniform notice requirements on California employers dealing with a potential COVID-19 exposure or outbreak, requires employers to maintain records of COVID-19 notices, and empowers the Division of Occupational Health and Safety (“Cal OSHA”) to close down worksites where the risk of exposure to COVID-19 constitutes an imminent hazard to employees.

Time 2 Minute Read

Effective January 1, 2020, organ donors in California are entitled to an additional 30 business days of unpaid leave.  AB 1223 extends the maximum leave time available to employees who participate in an organ donation program.  This law applies to private employers with 15 or more employees.

Time 3 Minute Read

Earlier this year, we wrote about a proposed bill in California, AB 51, which would prevent employers from requiring their employees to bring all employment-related claims, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage and hour claims, in arbitration instead of state or federal court.  Earlier this month, Governor Newsom signed AB 51 into law.

Time 3 Minute Read

In a recent case, Correia v. NB Baker Electric, Inc., the California Court of Appeal held that employers cannot require employees to arbitrate their representative claims under the California Private Attorney General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”), Labor Code § 2699 et seq., without the State’s consent.

In Correia, two former employees sued their employer, NB Baker Electric, Inc. (“Baker”), alleging wage and hour violations and seeking civil penalties under PAGA. Baker petitioned the trial court for arbitration pursuant to the parties’ arbitration agreement, which provided that arbitration would be the exclusive forum for any dispute and which prohibited employees from bringing “any class action or representative action” in any forum.

Time 3 Minute Read

Effective January 1, 2019, California’s minimum wage increased from $11.00 to $12.00 per hour. This increase applies to all employers who employ 26 or more employees (“large employers”).  For employers with 25 or fewer employees (“small employers”), the minimum wage increased from $10.50 to $11.00 per hour. (In fact, all employers ultimately will pay a statewide minimum wage of $15.00 per hour, although the timing of the increase depends on the employer’s size: for large employers, California’s minimum wage will increase by $1.00 on a yearly basis through January 1, 2022, and for small employers, California’s minimum wage will increase by $1.00 on a yearly basis through January 1, 2023. Cal. Lab. Code § 1182.12).

Time 3 Minute Read

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, California has had the highest number of reported cases of human trafficking in the country over the last six years, followed by Texas and Florida.  Human trafficking victims include men and women, adults and children, and foreign nationals and United States citizens. Recent studies indicate that hotels and motels are common locations for sex trafficking.

In light of these startling statistics, now is a good time for employers to become informed about new legislation associated with human trafficking crimes and to implement or update their anti-human trafficking policies and practices.

Time 2 Minute Read

California was one of the leading states to tackle pay discrimination by banning inquiries into salary history.  California Labor Code Section 432.3, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, prohibits public and private employers from seeking or relying upon the salary history of applicants for employment.  But some of the law’s terms were undefined and some of the provisions were unclear, so after Section 432.3 went into effect, employers had questions about how to remain compliant with the law when hiring new employees.

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