Employer Beware: New California Employment Laws for 2021

Among the lasting 2020 impacts of fires, politics and COVID-19, is increased regulation of California employers. More than 563 bills introduced in the last California legislative session mention “employer,” compared to about 300 bills in 2019. While most bills stalled in the Legislature, many were signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, bringing more rules and risks for employers in our state, dealing with workplace safety; sick leave; workers’ compensation; diversity and discrimination; worker classification and wages; privacy; employee leaves; and settlements.

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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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Ninth Circuit Rules Amazon Drivers Fall Within FAA’s Transportation Worker Exemption

On August 19, the Ninth Circuit delivered the latest guidance in the long-running debate over the Federal Arbitration Act’s (FAA) scope. It held that Amazon delivery drivers can move forward with a nationwide class action — in court, not arbitration — because they fall within the FAA’s transportation worker exemption.

The case, Bernadean Rittmann v. Amazon.com, Inc., et al, Case No. 19-35381, dealt with a “last mile” delivery driver through Amazon’s app-based delivery program, Amazon Flex (AmFlex), who occasionally crossed state lines, but completed most deliveries intrastate. Upon starting work, the driver signed an agreement requiring him to bring claims against Amazon in arbitration.

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Donning, Doffing and PPE: The Compensability of Pre-Shift and Post-Shift Activities

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage and hour laws require businesses to record and pay their nonexempt employees for all “compensable time,” including certain activities that occur before an employee begins his or her principal activities during the work day. During the COVID-19 pandemic and after retail employees “return to work,” workers may be required (or choose) to engage in certain tasks at the start of their shifts and throughout the workday.

For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.

California Employers: Required Security Screening May Be Compensable Work Time

Employees must be paid for time spent waiting for, and undergoing, searches of their bags, packages and personal technology devices, the California Supreme Court ruled February 13, 2020, in Amanda Frlekin, et al. v Apple, Inc., Case No. S243805, answering a question posed to it by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a case involving Apple. This decision marks a signature departure from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, under which time spent undergoing mandatory security screenings is not compensable, the U.S. Supreme Court previously held in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, 574 U.S. 27 (2014). This is yet another example of the greater protection that California state laws typically offer employees.

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Labor Law Update: Your Labor of Love

*Originally published by CalCPA in the January/February 2020 issue of California CPA.

More than 300 bills introduced in the 2019 California Legislative session mention “employer,” compared to 589 bills in 2018. While most bills bogged down or died in the Legislature, many of the bills—which likely would have been vetoed by former Gov. Jerry Brown—were signed into law by first-term Gov. Gavin Newsom, ushering in a new wave of more regulation of employers in the Golden State.

The following are essential elements of many key state Assembly Bills (AB) and Senate Bills (SB) that became law Jan. 1 (unless otherwise noted) and affect private employers.

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