CALIFORNIA — New California laws passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor that took effect Jan. 1 address issues such as wages, privacy, worker classification and discrimination.
There are now 29 states with a minimum wage over the federal minimum of $7.25. Authorizing California’s 2020 increase, Senate Bill 3 was signed by former Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015, according to www.jdspura.com, a daily legal publishing analysis by leading law firms covering labor relations.
California minimum wage increased to $13
per hour for employers with 26 or more employees, and $12 for employers with 25
or fewer employees. The minimum annual salary that must be paid to anyone in
administrative, managerial capacities is $54,089 for employers with 26 or more
employees or $49,920 for employers with 25 or fewer.
Additional worker protections include
Assembly Bill 673 that allows employees who do not receive payment of wages the
ability to recover statutory penalties against an employer in a hearing before
the Labor Commission.
Privacy and Employment Protections
Local communities currently without rent
controls will now be covered by a statewide initiative, Assembly Bill 1482,
explained CalMatters, a nonprofit, nonpartisan online news venture that works
with 180 media partners to explain how state legislation works. This bill
limits rent increases to five percent each year plus inflation. A provision
makes certain it will not rise above 10 percent.
For years social media and search engines
such as Facebook and Google have collected and shared personal data about their
users. But with a grassroots initiative gaining popularity to reign in tech
giants state lawmakers approved a consumer privacy law. AB 375 now places
additional responsibility on businesses. Those required to comply include
companies earning revenue over $25 million a year.
As many as 500,000 companies will have to
follow AB 375 provisions. It requires businesses to give people all the
information collected about them, free of charge. Businesses must delete
information if a person asks them to. It requires businesses to have a simple
opt out of having data sold.
Recently, the federal government repealed
the individual mandate requiring proof of health insurance starting in January
2019. The former federal mandate implemented a penalty when filing a federal
tax return if a person lacked health insurance. This had been law since 2014.
California has reintroduced the mandate law on a statewide basis.
California also becomes the first state in
the country to provide young adults without documentation health benefits. SB
104 expands Medicaid to include low-income adults 25 or younger benefits,
regardless of their immigration status.
Young people are afforded additional
protection with SB 439. This law changes the age at which a minor can be sent
to a juvenile detention facility. Those under 12 who commit non-violent crimes
will be released to a parent instead of being detained.
In addition, students in elementary school
will no longer be so easily suspended owing to SB 419. The law bans suspending
students from fourth to eighth grades for disrupting school activities or
defying teachers or administrators. Students in kindergarten to third grade
already have this protection.
Employee Rights and Benefits
AB 5 is expected to change the status of one
million workers statewide, such as truckers, janitors, manicurists and possibly
others. Uber and Lyft drivers riveted the nation’s focus the last several years
when debate raged if drivers preferred the flexibility as independent
contractors or would rather have set wages that included job protections as
employees. Ride share drivers remain divided on the issue.
El Centro City Attorney Betsy Martyn, in reply
to an inquiry regarding new laws, explained she can only respond to laws
affecting public agencies.
“I really cannot comment on these
except for AB 5,” she said. “The law tries to correct the Dynamex
decision regarding independent contractors and confirms the effective
The case, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v.
Superior Court of Los Angeles was decided in 2018. The ruling, now codified by
AB 5, states a worker is presumed an employee unless a hiring entity can
establish certain conditions: the person is free from the control and direction
of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work; the person
performs the work outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and,
if the person is in an independently established business of the same nature as
that involved in the work performed.
Workers will also be protected from being
forced into mandatory arbitration agreements with employers under AB 51. It
prohibits employers from requiring job applicants or existing employees to
waive any right for possible employer violations of the Labor Code or other
statutes governing employment as a condition of employment or receipt of
New parents will now have more time to
care for a newborn thanks to SB 83. Benefits under paid family leave will
extend from six to eight weeks starting July 1, 2020.
Recourse Against Authoritative Overreach
CalMatters also explained the limit placed
on police officers will have a new legal standard restricting when they can use
deadly force. Under AB 392 police can use deadly force only when an officer
reasonably believes it is necessary and it amends the reasonable-force standard
to objectively reasonable force.
Due to the recent devastation from
wildfires caused by downed power lines some utilities have been shutting off
power in high-risk fire periods as a preventive measure. However, SB 167, the
Public Safety Power Shutoff law, requires utility companies to devise a plan on
reducing the negative impact of planned power shutoffs to first responders and
people with disabilities.
Regarding the latter, Kristina Bas
Hamilton, legislative director of UDW Local 3930 home healthcare workers union,
said she is very supportive.
167 is very necessary,” she said. “The impact of PSPS on access and the
functional needs population is particularly severe. Currently, utilities are
relying on lists of consumers signed up for the medical baseline program. But
many consumers who rely on power for medical devices and wheelchairs don’t know
about this program and are not signed up. Utilities must do a better job
preparing for PSPS to mitigate impact on our state’s most vulnerable
populations. Seniors and people with disabilities need a plan A, plan B and
even plan C.”