New Labor Laws, Uncategorized

NEW CALIFORNIA LABOR LAWS IN 2016

We are in the middle of February and a slate of new labor laws have been in place of nearly two months.  Just to make sure that all employers are aware of them, I thought I would publish this article to describe some of the most important new labor laws.

GENDER PAY EQUALITY

The gender equality pay law under Labor Code §1197.5 has some important changes.  These changes will make it easier for employees to make claims.  The law allows an employee to sue if an employer retaliates against an employee for making unequal pay claim based on gender.  Additionally, unequal pay no longer needs to happen in the same establishment.  Thus, an employee at one location can make a claim for disparate pay that occurs at another location.  Further, an employee of one sex can make a claim for unequal pay when an employee of the opposite sex gets greater pay for: “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility.”  That standard will be easier to prove than the old “equal work” standard.  Finally, employers can defend sex wage differentials when they are based on: (1) Seniority System, (2) Merit System, (3) Systems that pay based on quantity or quality of production, and (4) Factors such as education, training, or experience, but only if pay differential is a “business necessity”, job related, and not derived from a sex-based differential.

CANNOT RETALIATE AGAINST AN EMPLOYEE WHO ASKS FOR A DISABILITY OR RELIGIOUS ACCOMMODATION

An appellate court said that asking for an accommodation based on religion or disability was not protected.  A new law makes retaliating against an employee asking for that type of accommodations an illegal, and, if an employer does retaliate, the employee may sue.

EMPLOYERS HAVE THE RIGHT TO CURE MINOR PAY STUB VIOLATIONS.

Recently, employers have faced huge penalties for not putting accurate pay period dates and employer addresses on pay stubs.  Employers now have the right to “cure” those types of pay stub inaccuracies.  Specifically, if the pay period dates or the employer address is not accurate, then employers may fix those inaccuracies without penalty, but they may only do so once in any 12-month period.

MINIMUM WAGE IS $10 PER HOUR

            A law passed in 2013 increased the minimum wage to $9 per hour in 2014.  The second half of that law came into effect on January 1 of this year, and made the minimum wage $10 per hour throughout California.

CANNOT RETALIATE AGAINST FAMILY MEMBERS OF WHISTLE BLOWERS

When one family member blows the whistle on an employer, the employer may not retaliate against a non-complaining family member who also works for that employer.  Further, employers who contract for labor face the same family member retaliation liability as any other employer faces.

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Uncategorized

2014: “The Year of the Minimum Wage!”

Best Employment Attorney Blog

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For the past several months, my blog, emails, Big Blend Magazine articles, radio interviews, Facebook posts, and other modes of communication I use to discuss legal issues have been filled with news about minimum wage.  Of all the hot Employment Law topics, I think minimum wage is the biggest topic now and will remain so throughout 2014.

The big news for Californians is that the state minimum wage will increase from $8 an hour to $9 an hour starting on July 1, 2014.  After that, it will increase another dollar to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016.

Most recently in the news, Los Angeles is poised to pass a minimum wage increase to $15.37 per hour for hotel workers who work in a business zone around the airport (LAX).  (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/14/la-highest-minimum-wage-hotel_n_4590136.html)  In fact, the Los Angeles City Council wants to make that minimum wage the law for…

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Minimum Wage, Uncategorized

E-Radio Interview about the Push to Increase Minimum Wage in California and the Nation

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On January 20, 2014, I gave an interview about the newly passed and newly proposed minimum wage laws in California and throughout the nation.  Please click this link to listen: http://www.successexpressmagazine.com/The-Year-of-the-Minimum-Wage.html.  The link also has the related article I posted with the radio show.  That same article is on this blog too.  Feel free to add comments about the article or the radio show.

S. Ward Heinrichs, Esq.
BACKSTROM & HEINRICHS
Attorneys at Law
A Professional Corporation
4565 Ruffner Street, Suite 207
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 292-0792
(858) 408-7543 (fax)

http://bestemploymentattorneysandiego.com/

http://twitter.com/#!/WardHeinrichs

www.facebook.com/BackstromandHeinrichs

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ward-heinrichs/45/806/83b

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Uncategorized

Much Harder Now for Employers to Win Attorneys’ Fees in Wage Cases

Starting January 1, 2014, employers will have a much more difficult time convincing a Court to give them attorneys’ fees after winning a wage and hour lawsuit.  Before the change in the law, when an employee sued the employer for not paying wages, other than for overtime and minimum wage, the employer could ask the Court to award it the cost of hiring an attorney to defend the case when the employee lost his or her wage claim.  Now, even when an employer successfully defends an employee’s claim for unpaid wages, the employer can only win its attorneys’ fees if the employee brought the lawsuit in bad faith.  Bad faith is a hard standard to prove.

The law protects suing employees even more than before.  As indicated, an employee never faced the penalty of needing to pay for an employer’s attorneys’ fees when the employee claimed that the employer failed to pay overtime wages or minimum wage.  However, when an employee claimed that the employer failed to pay regular straight time wages that met the minimum wage standards, an employer had a right to recover its attorneys’ fees if the employee failed to win.  Now, the employer only has that right when the employee brought the claim in bad faith.       Further, the new rule applies to “any action brought for the nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension fund contributions . . .”, so virtually any claim made for compensation earned by the employee requires the employer to prove bad faith before it can recover the money it paid to its attorneys when it wins a wage lawsuit.

Employers continue to carry the cost burden of litigation.  The new law amends Labor Code §218.5 and places even more of the litigation cost burden on employers.  The California courts and legislature have supported that policy for many years and continue to do so.

 

S. Ward Heinrichs, Esq.
BACKSTROM & HEINRICHS
Attorneys at Law
A Professional Corporation
4565 Ruffner Street, Suite 207
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 292-0792
(858) 408-7543 (fax)

http://bestemploymentattorneysandiego.com/

http://twitter.com/#!/WardHeinrichs

www.facebook.com/BackstromandHeinrichs

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ward-heinrichs/45/806/83b

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Uncategorized

E-RADIO INTERVIEW ABOUT NEW 2014 EMPLOYMENT LAWS

On December 4, 2013, I gave an interview about the new employment laws of 2014.  Please click this link to listen:  http://www.successexpressmagazine.com/California-Labor-Law.html.

You can also read the accompany article with the bullet points concerning the laws I discussed.

S. Ward Heinrichs, Esq.
BACKSTROM & HEINRICHS
Attorneys at Law
A Professional Corporation
4565 Ruffner Street, Suite 207
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 292-0792
(858) 408-7543 (fax)

http://bestemploymentattorneysandiego.com/

http://twitter.com/#!/WardHeinrichs

www.facebook.com/BackstromandHeinrichs

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ward-heinrichs/45/806/83b

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Uncategorized

NEW 2014 EMPLOYMENT LAWS

On December 4, I was a guest on the “Happy Hour” show of the Big Blend Radio program (www.BigBlendRadio.com).  We discussed the topics posted below.  The program directors will soon post on their website the live radio chat and the article I submitted.  The following are the essentials discussed on the show and posted in the article.

Increase in the minimum wage.

The biggest news about new labor laws is the California minimum wage increase.  This will affect most, if not all, employers and will raise the wages for many workers, even those who make more than minimum wage.

The new minimum wage law provides for an increase to $9 per hour starting on July 1, 2014 and an increase to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016.  Obviously, those who make minimum wage will see their wages increase.  In addition, those who make the minimum salary to qualify as an exempt employee will also see their salaries increase.  Those minimum salaries are equal to two times the minimum wage, so when the minimum wage increases, those salaries also increase.  Further, other wage earners making more than the minimum hourly rate and the minimum salary may also see their wages increase because of the general upward pressure in wages from the increase in the minimum wage.

Cool down rest periods.

Soon, when the temperature exceeds 85 degrees, outdoor workers will be entitled to at least five minutes of rest on an “as needed” basis.  The law does not provide the employer with a way of denying the employee the break, so, apparently, when the employee claims the need for a break, the employer cannot object.  Most lawyers believe that the subjective nature of determining when someone needs a break will cause many problems with implementing the requirements of this new law.  The law will probably spawn much litigation.

Domestic Workers.

Nannies, home health care providers, and maids used to be exempt from the overtime premium pay requirements.  Now they are entitled to overtime.  If they work more than 9 hours per day or 45 hours per week, then the new law requires employers to pay time-and-a-half for all hours worked beyond those thresholds.  They also will be entitled to rest and meal periods

Veterans and active duty military are now protected by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Before the change in the law, employers could discriminate against employees because they were either veterans or active duty personnel and not face discrimination lawsuits based on violations of California law.  Now, employers could face discrimination lawsuits if they pick on employees because they are veterans or active duty military.

Grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and in-law parents are now eligible for Paid Family Leave.

The legislature extended Paid Family Leave benefits to grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and in-law parents.  Those groups of people will soon be eligible to receive paid leave to care for grandparents, grandkids, brothers and sisters, and in-laws.

Increased protections for immigrant workers.

When immigrant employees assert employment rights, their employers could face retaliation lawsuits if they treat those employees in a way that adversely effects their employment because the immigrant asserted a work place right.

S. Ward Heinrichs, Esq.
BACKSTROM & HEINRICHS
Attorneys at Law
A Professional Corporation
4565 Ruffner Street, Suite 207
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 292-0792
(858) 408-7543 (fax)

http://bestemploymentattorneysandiego.com/

http://twitter.com/#!/WardHeinrichs

www.facebook.com/BackstromandHeinrichs

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Uncategorized

How Will the California New Minimum Wage Effect Employees and Employers?

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a new minimum wage law.  It will increase minimum wage to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014 and to $10 per hour January 1, 2016.  This will have both positive and negative effects.

The obvious positive effect is minimum wage earners will see an increase in their paychecks, assuming the employer continues to employ them for the same number of hours.

Increases in minimum wage usually have some “trickle up” effect too.  In other words, hourly employees who make more than minimum wage are more likely to see some increase in their hourly wage.  The theory is if their services are worth more to the employer than the services of minimum wage employees, then the employer should still be willing to pay more for those services even after an increase in the minimum wage.

Even salaried employees should get an increase in their wages.  In California, the state requires an employer to set minimum salaries by using minimum wage as part of the equation.  For instance, exempt managers must make at least twice minimum wage multiplied by 2080 hours.  (2080 hours is 40 hours per week times 52 weeks per year.)  So, by 2016, the minimum salary for exempt managers will be $41,600 (2080 hours x $20 per hour).

Of course, increases in labor costs will increase the costs of producing goods and services.  The market will force employers to elect one or more methods to combat the increased costs.

Usually, employers will attempt to pass along the increased cost to the purchaser.  To the degree the market allows that, we all will pay more for goods and services.  However, not all markets allow for much, if any, increase in the costs of goods and services.  Some businesses will undoubtedly not be able to pass enough of the cost along to survive and will go out of business.  Other businesses will pass along some cost to the purchaser but will also need to reduce other costs.  As a result, some businesses will actually fire some of the employees who just received increased wages because of the increase in the minimum wage.  Other businesses may elect not to hire workers that they had planned to hire or may elect to reduce the number of working hours it offers to its employees.  Still others will cut costs by reducing the quality of the goods or services they provide.  Of course, certain employers may be able to deal with increased labor costs by using one or all of the above strategies.

Clearly, minimum wage employees, who keep their jobs and maintain the same number of working hours after a minimum wage increase, will benefit.  Similarly, minimum salaried employees who retain their jobs will benefit too.  Other employees may well receive more wages because of the general upward pressure on wages.  However, other members of the public, such as, consumers, terminated workers, employers, etc. will feel economic pain as a result of the increase in minimum wage, but they may feel good about that because their pain will help others receive a more decent living wage.

S. Ward Heinrichs
BACKSTROM & HEINRICHS
Attorneys at Law
A Professional Corporation
4565 Ruffner Street, Suite 207
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 292-0792

http://bestemploymentattorneysandiego.com/

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