Newly Enacted or Amended California Statutes For 2016
Gender-Based “Fair Pay Act” Enacted
This law amends Labor Code § 1197.5 (SB 358). The amendment prohibits an employer from paying an employee at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for “substantially similar work.” “Substantially similar work” is determined by analyzing a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, while considering whether the work is being performed under similar working conditions. SB 358 does not require such “substantially similar work” to be “in the same establishment” of the employer as previously required by Section 1197.5.
SB 358 added a provision to Section 1197.5 that prohibits an employer from discharging, discriminating or retaliating against an employee by reason of any action taken by the employee to invoke or assist in any manner the enforcement of this legislation. This new provision authorizes an employee to disclose the employee’s own wages, discuss the wages of others, inquire about another employee’s wages, or aid or encourage other employees to exercise their rights under this legislation. If an employee is discharged, discriminated or retaliated against in the terms and conditions of his or her employment because the employee engaged in any such protected conduct, the employee may seek reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer as well as other appropriate equitable relief.
PAGA Cure Period Provided
This law, which became effective immediately, amends the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) to provide an employer with the right to cure a violation of the requirement that an employer provides its employees with the inclusive dates of the pay period and the name and address of the employer before an employee may bring a civil action under PAGA. An employer can utilize this cure provision only once in a 12-month period. The law also provides a cure period to an employer that has not received notice of such a wage statement violation (AB 1506).
Retaliation Against Family Members Of Whistleblowers Prohibited
This law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who is a family member of an employee who has or is perceived to have engaged in protected conduct or made a protected complaint (such as whistleblowing). Additionally, the law excludes certain entities, such as certain household goods carriers, from the imposition of joint liability on client employers for all workers supplied by a labor contractor (AB 1509).
Piece-Rate Compensation Requirements Changed
This law requires employers to pay piece-rate employees for rest and recovery periods and “other nonproductive time” at or above specified minimum hourly rates, separately from any piece-rate compensation. It also defines “other nonproductive time” as time under the employer’s control, exclusive of rest and recovery periods, that is not directly related to the activity being compensated on a piece-rate basis. Additionally, employers must specify the following on a piece-rate employee’s itemized wage statement: the total hours of compensable rest and recovery periods, the rate of compensation paid for those periods, and the gross wages paid for those periods during the pay period (AB 1513).
Recordkeeping Duration Lengthened
SB 358 also increases the duration of recordkeeping requirements of wages, wage rates, job classifications, and other terms and conditions of employment from two years to three years.
Wage Garnishment Restrictions Modified
This law reduces the prohibited amount of an employee’s weekly earnings subject to levy under an earnings withholding order from exceeding the lesser of: (i) 25% of the employee’s weekly earnings or (ii) 50% of the amount by which the employee’s earnings for the week exceed 40 times the minimum wage (SB 501).
New Protected Classes Added To Unruh Civil Rights Act
This law expands the protections of the Unruh Civil Rights Act by prohibiting discrimination by business establishments based on citizenship, primary language, or immigration status (SB 600).