Work It: What California Employers Should Know About New Laws for 2019

*Originally published by CalCPA in the January/February 2019 issue of California CPA — the original article can be found here.

As the #MeToo movement gained momentum to right the wrongs of sexual harassment alleged against Hollywood, business and politicians, so too has the California Legislature responded by declaring, in essence, #TimesUp.

Of the nearly 600 bills introduced in 2018 that mention “employer,” compared to 304 bills in 2017) 455 mentioned “sexual harassment,” (compared to 347 the prior year). While most of those bills did not pass, and of the ones that did, Gov. Brown did not sign several into law, many of the new laws will have significant impact on our state.

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How to Prepare For a Visit from ICE: I-9 Audits and Workplace Visits

On December 11, 2018, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a press release reaffirming the agency’s continued commitment to prosecuting employers who knowingly hire and employ ineligible workers. The agency further announced that it will use I-9 audits and penalties to ensure that employers comply with applicable laws.

According to ICE, in Fiscal Year 2018, the agency initiated 6,848 worksite investigations, 5,981 I-9 audits, 779 criminal arrests and 1,525 administrative arrests. Given this active enforcement landscape, it is imperative that employers comply with applicable immigration laws, and understand their rights under such laws.

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Summary of Key New California Laws for 2019 (and Beyond): What Employers Should Know

In 2018, Governor Brown signed several laws impacting California employers. A summary of some of the key new laws follows. The effective date of each new law is indicated in the heading of the Assembly Bill (AB) and/or Senate Bill (SB).1 The list below is in numerical order by AB or SB.

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California Considers Ban On Forced Arbitration By Employers

Late last year, a bipartisan coalition in the United States Senate sponsored legislation to ban the use of mandatory arbitration agreements to settle sexual harassment and sex discrimination claims (H.R. 4734/S. 2203). While that bill—titled the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act of 2017”—remains pending, a similar bill is also now pending before the California legislature (A.B. 3080). If enacted, A.B. 3080 would prohibit employers from requiring mandatory arbitration agreements as a condition of employment, continued employment, or the receipt of any employment-related benefit, such as a bonus.

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New York City Employers: Get Ready to Comply with the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act

As a reminder, the New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (“Paid Safe/Sick Leave Law”) became effective on May 5, 2018. The Paid Safe/Sick Leave Law applies to all employers with five or more employees who work more than 80 hours a year in New York City and requires employers to provide up to 40 hours (5 days) of paid safe and sick leave. Employers with less than five employees must provide unpaid sick and safe leave. In order to notify employees about their rights under the Paid Safe/Sick Leave Law, New York City employers must distribute written notice to their employees on the first day of employment or by June 4, 2018. Employers can find the new Notice of Employee Rights on the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”) website, available here. The DCA also provides the new notice in Spanish, Chinese and 24 other languages.

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Justice Gorsuch Casts Deciding Vote Rejecting NLRB’s Prohibition on Class Action Waivers

In a long-awaited decision, the United States Supreme Court, by a 5-to-4 vote, overturned the National Labor Relations Board’s (the “Board”) ruling that class action waivers violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) because they interfere with the right to engage in “protected activity,” which, according to the Board, includes the ability to bring class or collective actions. Epic Sys. Corp. v. Lewis, No. 16-0285, 2018 WL 2292444, at *23 (U.S. May 21, 2018).

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