• Posts by Jonathan Judge
    Posts by Jonathan Judge
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    Jonathan Judge advises employers in various labor and employment law matters, including drug testing, mass layoffs (WARN), disparate impact analysis, immigration compliance, trade secrets, privacy, technology in the ...

On November 15, 2021, the West Hollywood city council enacted an ordinance that establishes a local minimum wage, and requires employers to provide paid and unpaid leave benefits. On May 16, 2022, the city council approved amendments to the ordinance and published Administrative Regulations (637879708613130000 (weho.org)) regarding the law, discussed below.

The ordinance’s minimum wage and leave benefits are restricted to only hourly, non-exempt, employees. There are also exceptions available for unionized employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement. 

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) permits background checks for employment purposes, so long as employers obtain authorization from and provide the appropriate “stand-alone” disclosure to the applicant or employee regarding the background check, among other requirements. Willful violations of the FCRA’s stand-alone disclosure requirement can lead to recovery of statutory damages ranging from $100 to $1,000 per violation. Thus, a central issue in FCRA cases is whether the employer’s violation is “willful,” which requires a showing that the defendant’s conduct was “intentional” or “reckless.” 

Categories: Litigation
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.

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: 

On May 3, 2021, the California Department of Public Health issued guidance that fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine if they are asymptomatic. COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.  On May 7, 2021, Cal/OSHA followed this lead and updated its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards FAQs to reflect the change as follows:

On April 7, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL) published new model COBRA notice forms as a result of the recent COBRA subsidy program created by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

On March 19, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 95 (“SB 95”), which requires employers with 26 or more employees to provide up to 80 hours of Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“SPSL”) to eligible employees.  SB 95 takes effect March 29, 2021, and will expire on September 30, 2021.

Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that the political environment in the United States right now has everyone a little bit on edge, especially in the midst of an ongoing international health crisis.  Passions are running high, and tempers are flaring; however, California employers have particular cause to exercise caution and diligence when their employees voice and/or demonstrate their political beliefs.

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