Tax Implications - Employee Use of Employer-Provided Vehicles for Personal Commuting

It is not uncommon for employees who use employer-provided vehicles during their workday, to also use the employer-provided vehicles for commuting to and from their work location, and/or to continue using the employer-provided vehicle for personal use during non-work hours.  In general, employee use of employer-provided vehicles after working hours may subject employees to taxable wages in the form of additional compensation, or “fringe” income; notwithstanding situations where the employee is generally on-call, and/or is expected to respond to emergency situations from their home or other non-work locations.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, California passed the “Right to Recall” law, which requires employers in the building services and hospitality industries to offer laid-off employees an opportunity to be rehired before hiring a new employee to fill the position.  Now that most businesses and companies are ramping back up and returning to work, employers covered by the Right to Recall law must ensure compliance with California’s recall requirements or face steep penalties. 

California’s Department of Industrial Relations Issues the 2022 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Model Notice and Frequently Asked Questions

California’s new statewide supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) law, SB 114, went into effect on February 19, 2022. SB 114 required the State’s Labor Commissioner to issue a “model notice,” which employers must then post in the workplace or, if an employer’s employees do not frequent a workplace, the employer must distribute the notice electronically (such as by email). On February 16th, the Labor Commissioner issued the new model notice, which is available here.

U.S. Supreme Court Stays Federal OSHA’s Large Employer COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Mandate; CMS Mandate Upheld

On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which required large employers (with 100 or more employees) to institute a policy requiring their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing. The Supreme Court’s ruling stayed the vaccine and testing mandate on the basis that OSHA had exceeded its authority in enacting the emergency rule (and that those challenging the mandate were likely to succeed). The Court described the federal ETS as “a significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.” Enforcement of the OSHA rule is currently on hold, pending further litigation on the merits.

With the start of the holiday season comes the inevitable question for employers: What are we going to do for the holiday party?  Perhaps the only positive note from the global pandemic of the past two years is the fact that HR departments were not faced with this question in 2020 due to stay-at-home orders and statewide COVID-19 surges.

Tags: Vaccines
California’s SB 331: New Restrictions on Employee Separation Agreements and Non-Disparagement and Confidentiality Provisions

On October 7, 2021, Governor Newsom signed SB 331 to place additional restrictions on employers offering severance agreements and settling employment claims alleging harassment, discrimination or retaliation based on purported violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). The new law, which is effective January 1, 2022, expands California’s current legal restrictions under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1001. Currently, CCP section 1001 prohibits various confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses in settlement agreements, specifically those that would prevent disclosure of factual information relating to claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, workplace harassment or discrimination based on sex, or retaliation against a person for reporting such acts.

According to various reports, federal OSHA will release proposed regulations regarding the vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees in the near future.  While such guidance has been eagerly anticipated in the employment community for weeks, California employers will have to wait for further guidance from Cal/OSHA, which has jurisdiction over most California workplaces.  Cal/OSHA recently revised its FAQs as follows: 

The Buck Stops Where?  Personal Liability in Wage and Hour Litigation in California 

Even seemingly minor wage and hour violations present a very real threat of crippling or potentially ruinous liability for California’s employers when assessed in class and Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) representative action lawsuits. To make matters worse, plaintiffs are increasingly targeting individual owners and agents in addition to their corporate employer, which begs the question: When can individuals be held personally liable in wage and hour lawsuits? 

Categories: Litigation, PAGA

Seventeen years ago, in 2004, the California Legislature enacted the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”).  Appropriately dubbed a “bounty hunter” law, PAGA authorizes any current or former “aggrieved” employee of a California employer to file suit to seek statutory penalties for essentially any violation of the California Labor Code together with attorney’s fees, hence the incentive for plaintiff attorneys to bring such cases.  Specifically, under PAGA a current or former employee who is “aggrieved” by a violation of the California Labor Code can seek in addition to damages and liquidated damages, civil penalties on the employee’s behalf and on behalf of all other similarly “aggrieved” (i.e., affected) current and former employees.  The recoverable civil penalties are up to $100 per employee per pay period for an initial violation and $200 per employee per pay period for each subsequent violation, plus attorney’s fees and litigation costs.  When such penalties are awarded, the plaintiff current or former employee along with all other similar “aggrieved” employee will receive 25% of the penalties together with their attorney’s fees as a “bounty,” with the balance of the penalties payable to a State agency known as the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.  Click Here to read entire post.

In Magadia v. Wal-mart Associates, Inc., et al., No. 19-16184, 2021 WL 2176584 (9th Cir. May 28, 2021), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the district court’s award of $102 million to an employee who sued the company alleging that he and other employees did not receive compliant wage statements or meal periods.  Unlike the district court, the Ninth Circuit found that the former employee who sued Walmart had suffered no meal period violations, and thus the employee had no standing to sue on behalf of others.  The Ninth Circuit also held that the district court incorrectly concluded Walmart’s wage statements did not comply with California law.

Categories: Litigation, PAGA

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