California Employment Law Update

As jurisdictions continue to respond to COVID-19 with new rules, regulations, orders and guidance, employers must ensure that they adhere to these requirements as they manage business operations. To assist multi-state employers as they navigate these developments, we have created ProTrack COVID-19, a state and local tracker tool. Our proprietary tracker allows employers to search the legal requirements in the jurisdictions where they conduct business, and provides realtime updates. Key features Access to our database of COVID-19 employment and privacy-related state and local rules, regulations, orders and guidance – updated in real-time. Interactive map feature to drill down to state-specific…
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the flurry of associated leave issues, Gov. Newsom recently signed Senate Bill 1383 (“SB 1383”) into law, which provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) to employers with as few as five employees.  Beginning on January 1, 2021, when SB 1383 takes effect, employees of most small employers will be eligible for leaves of absence: (1) for the birth of a child; (2) for adoption or foster care placement of a child; (3) to care for a seriously ill family member; and/or (4) to care for the…
Late last week, Gov. Newsom signed AB 685 into law which, among other things, adds section 6409.6 (“Section 6409.6”) to the Labor Code.  The new statute, which takes effect January 1, 2021, requires that employers notify employees and, in some instances, public health officials about COVID-19 exposures at work. Specifically, Section 6409.6 requires that employers take all of the following steps within one business day of notice of a potential exposure in the workplace: Provide written notice to all employees (and employers of subcontracted employees), who were on the premises at the same “worksite” as the infected or potentially infected…
On September 9, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1867 (“AB 1867”), which is intended to fill gaps left by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The new law requires that private employers with 500 or more employees in the United States provide eligible (non-food sector) employees with up to 80 hours of supplemental paid COVID-19 sick leave (“Supplemental COVID-19 Leave”). AB 1867 also codifies the food sector-specific supplemental paid leave provided under Executive Order N-51-20, and extends paid leave benefits to health care and emergency responders who were not provided with paid sick leave under the FFCRA. For…
California Governor Gavin Newsom has released a 32-page “Employer Playbook” that’s designed to help employers “plan and prepare for reopening their business and to support a safe, clean environment for workers and customers.” The Playbook contains general guidance applicable to all industries, such as how to manage an outbreak, record cases, and enforce mask requirements. The Playbook also contains hyperlinks to relevant government contacts and industry-specific guidance. In addition, the Playbook mandates that before reopening, all facilities must: Perform a detailed risk assessment and create a work site-specific COVID-19 prevention plan; Train workers on how to limit the spread of…
For years, federal courts in California have been inundated with wage and hour class actions.  Because these cases often clogged district court dockets for months (and, sometimes, even years) on end, the Central District of California issued the former Local Rule 23-3, which set a 90-day deadline to file a motion for class certification from the filing of a complaint in or removal of an action to federal court.  In 2018, the Ninth Circuit invalidated the 90-day deadline, but judges continue to manage their dockets by imposing shorter than average deadlines to keep cases moving.  And, as a recent Central…
As businesses reopen and employers continue to adjust to the new reality created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to anticipate the types of employment-related claims that may arise. On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, at 10:00 AM PDT, please join Proskauer’s Labor and Employment Department for a complimentary webinar as we provide an overview of current employment litigation trends that have emerged as a result of the pandemic, an outlook of the types of claims businesses should expect as they reinvent the workplace in the wake of COVID-19, and the proactive steps employers should take to reduce the risk…
Employers may face juries that seek to hold them responsible if an employee contracts COVID-19, the trial consulting firm Dispute Dynamics suggests in its latest study. Dispute Dynamics surveyed 321 individuals, inquiring about their most up-to-date attitudes in the context of being called as a potential juror during/following the pandemic. 46% of the participants indicated that an employer should be held responsible if an employee contracts coronavirus in the workplace, while 26% of participants disagreed. Further, 41% of participants agreed that an important function of juries is to “send a message” to corporations to improve their behavior, while only…
As we previously reported, last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom and California’s State Public Health Officer cleared the music, film and television industry to resume work no earlier than this Friday, June 12, 2020, subject to county-by-county approval.  On June 10, 2020, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, announced that she was in agreement and authorized the resumption of film and television production in Los Angeles County, effective June 12, 2020. Late yesterday, Dr. Ferrer issued an updated Health Officer Order that officially permits music, film and television production to resume in the nation’s largest entertainment…
California has long been considered one of the “capitals” of the fitness industry as it is home to thousands of gyms and boutique fitness studios.  COVID-19 hit the state’s fitness industry particularly hard when shelter-in-place orders were announced in mid-March and, as we detailed in an article last month, now presents unique reopening challenges. On June 5, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that gyms and other fitness facilities may start to reopen as of today, June 12, 2020, subject to county-specific authorization.  That same day, Gov. Newsom issued a series of comprehensive guidelines for the fitness industry.  Among…
On Friday June 5, Gov. Newsom announced that California has authorized the music, film and television production industries to reopen on or after this coming Friday, June 12, 2020.  The same day, Gov. Newsom announced the reopening of fitness facilities, day camps, and several other industries. Although the State Public Health Officer had been issuing industry-specific reopening protocols, the Public Health Officer directed employers engaged in the music, film and television production industries to follow the guidelines published by the industry-wide labor-management safety committee task force on June 1, 2020.  Those guidelines are discussed here.  The Public Health Officer…
As we discussed in a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter in April, the entertainment industry faces unique challenges as it plans to resume operations.  On May 20, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom suggested that California would release guidelines for reopening the entertainment industry by Memorial Day.  However, to date, California’s Public Health Officer has not released any targeted guidance regarding reopening the industry. The industry took charge and established an industry-wide labor-management safety committee task force, comprised of representatives from SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America, IATSE, a collection of studios and a number of other industry stakeholders (the “Task…
The California Chamber of Commerce has just identified 10 recently introduced “job killer” bills that have been proposed by the California legislature. Worth noting are the following: AB 196 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) Establishes “Conclusive Presumption” of Injury. Conclusively presumes that contraction of COVID-19 by all “essential workers” is a workplace injury, which will greatly increase the cost of workers’ compensation insurance for employers. AB 1107 (Chu; D-San Jose) Unemployment Insurance Compensation and Tax Increase. Raises employers’ share of payroll taxes to fund an increase in unemployment payments. AB 2999 (Low; D-Campbell) Requires Bereavement Leave. Requires employers to provide 10 days…
As if there weren’t enough to worry about, Los Angeles employers may face an even tougher challenge to prevail at trial in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic, the trial consulting firm Dispute Dynamics suggests in its latest study. On May 4th, Dispute Dynamics surveyed Los Angeles County residents and people nationwide, inquiring about their most up-to-date attitudes in the context of being called as a potential juror during/following the pandemic. Astoundingly, without knowing anything more about the case, 80% of respondents from Los Angeles County said that they would believe an employee over an employer in a dispute, compared…
When courts begin to ramp-up operations and start to impanel juries again for the thousands of backlogged civil and criminal trials, the composition of the jury pool may look different, suggests Dispute Dynamics. Dan Gallipeau and Jill Huntley Taylor at Dispute Dynamics conducted a 300-participant nationwide study last week to determine what, if any, effect COVID-19 might have on the composition of jury pools. Will courts treat fear of the coronavirus as a hardship and excuse jurors?  If so, who is most likely to claim the hardship? The study found notable differences among individuals who stated that they still…
On May 6, 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-62-20, which creates a time-limited rebuttable presumption that workers who are still reporting to their employer’s workplace and who test positive for COVID-19 are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.  Specifically, the Order provides that any COVID-19-related illness of an employee shall be “presumed to arise out of and in the course of the employment” if the following four conditions are satisfied: The employee tested positive or was diagnosed with COVID-19 infection within 14 days after the employee performed work at the employee’s place of employment; The employee’s services were performed…