New California Laws for 2023 and Beyond: What Employers Should Know

In 2022, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed many laws impacting California employers. Some of the new laws became effective immediately and others, including some that were signed into law just weeks ago, take effect January 1, 2023, or later. These new laws address several topics, including supplemental paid sick leave, pay transparency, leaves of absence and fast-food restaurant employment standards.

As a reminder, the minimum wage in California is increasing to $15.50 per hour on January 1, 2023, for all employers — regardless of the number of workers employed by an employer. Also, many cities and local governments in California have enacted minimum wage ordinances exceeding the state minimum wage.

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California Supreme Court: Unpaid Meal and Rest Period Premiums Can Lead to Wage Statement and Waiting Time Penalties

On May 23, 2022, the California Supreme Court ruled in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc. that unpaid meal and rest period premiums can form the basis of claims for wage statement violations under California Labor Code section 226 and waiting time penalties under California Labor Code section 203.  This is yet another significant decision by the Supreme Court impacting California employers in California particularly since the Court overruled the Court of Appeal, which had held that meal and rest period premiums are not “wages” and therefore cannot lead to wage statement or waiting time penalties.

Background

California law generally requires that employers provide non-exempt employees a reasonable opportunity to take an unpaid, off-duty and uninterrupted meal period of at least 30 minutes before the end of their fifth hour of work, and a second meal period before the end of their tenth hour of work.  Employers also generally must provide 10-minute uninterrupted, paid rest periods to non-exempt employees for every four hours worked (or major fraction thereof).  If an employer does not provide a compliant meal or rest period, the employee in question is entitled to payment of one hour of wages at the employee’s regular rate of pay.  That extra hour of pay is often referred to as a meal or rest period “premium.”

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New California Laws for 2022: What Employers Should Know

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed several laws in 2021 that are impacting or will impact how employers interact with and manage their employees. From confidentiality and nondisparagement provisions in settlement agreements to production quotas in warehouses, we examine the laws that have gone into effect and which laws employers need to begin preparing for over the next one to two years.

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California Court of Appeal Upholds Dismissal of ‘Unmanageable’ PAGA Claim

On September 9, 2021, the Second District of the California Courts of Appeal ruled in Fred Wesson v. Staples the Office Superstore, LLC that trial courts have “inherent authority” to strike claims under the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) if they will not be manageable at trial. As the first precedential decision on this issue from a California court, this case provides employers with a welcome potential defense to some PAGA claims.

Facts and Background

Under PAGA, employees in California are empowered to bring claims on behalf of other employees (and the state of California) for violations of the California Labor Code. Critically, plaintiffs need not meet class action requirements or go through class action procedures to bring claims under PAGA on behalf of other employees. As a result, unlike class actions, employers have had relatively limited recourse to challenge wide-reaching PAGA claims, sometimes brought on behalf of hundreds or thousands of employees.

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California Supreme Court: Paying Meal and Rest Period Penalty Based on Employee’s Base Hourly Rate Is Not Enough

On July 15, 2021, the California Supreme Court ruled that an employee’s “regular rate of compensation” for the purposes of meal and rest break penalties includes all nondiscretionary payments, not just hourly wages. This decision will have significant impact on all employers in California because (1) going forward, employers cannot simply pay the employee’s base hourly rate for meal and rest break violations, and (2) this decision is retroactive.

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New California Laws for 2021: What Employers Should Know

Several new laws in California impact employers in a multitude of operational areas. From leave regulations to workers’ compensation, safety enforcement, wages and more, business leaders have much to research when it comes to compliance. All employers with operations in California should be aware of these new laws, understand how these laws may affect their operations and consult with counsel to address any questions on these new obligations.

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