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.