California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed several laws impacting California employers in 2023. Some of the new laws became effective immediately and others, including some that were signed into law just weeks ago, take effect January 1, 2024, or later. These new laws address several topics, including expanding paid sick leave, leave of absence for reproductive loss, minimum wage increases for fast-food restaurant employees and health care workers, restraint on trade, and workplace violence prevention standards.
Recently, the California Supreme Court ruled in The People ex rel. Lilia Garcia-Brower v. Kolla’s Inc. that California’s whistleblower protection statute (Labor Code § 1102.5) protects employees who disclose unlawful conduct, even when the recipient of the disclosure is already aware of the conduct. This ruling expands the definition of “disclose” such that the law now covers a wider array of employee retaliation claims against employers.
Section 1102.5(b) states that employers may not retaliate against an employee for disclosing information (or because the employer believes that the employee has disclosed or will disclose information) about conduct which the employee reasonably believes is unlawful.
The California Supreme Court recently held that Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) plaintiffs do have standing to pursue their representative PAGA claims in state court even if their individual PAGA claims are compelled to arbitration.
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.
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.
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.”
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.