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New 2016 California Employment Laws Employers Should Know About

labor laws.jpgWith the ringing in of the New Year, numerous legislative provisions go into effect that may affect the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees in California. The following are only some examples of important labor laws of which employers should be aware as we go into 2016.

Fair Pay Act

The previous law regarding fair pay required that employers pay both men and women equally for equal work; and the new law, SB 358, expands the requirement to "substantially similar work." In addition, an employee can challenge a pay disparity even based on the pay of other employees at different locations, since the "same establishment" requirement was removed from the law. For example, a female housekeeper for a hotel in San Diego may be able to challenge that a male janitor for the same hotel in Los Angeles receives higher pay.

Finally, the law increases the burden on the employer in order to justify a pay disparity. Prior to the changes, an employer had to prove that a pay disparity was based on one of the following:

  • Merit;
  • Seniority;
  • Production; or
  • Another bona fide factor besides gender.

If using another bona fide factor to justify the wage gap, the new law requires that an employer demonstrate that the factor accounts for the entire difference in pay and that the factors were applied in a reasonable manner. This law is not only a more aggressive fair pay statute than the previous state law, but also stricter than the federal Equal Pay Act.

Additional Powers of the Labor Commissioner

If an employee has a judgment against their employer for unpaid wages, SB 588 now allows the Labor Commissioner to issue a lien or levy on the real estate or property of the employer to help with the collections of the back pay, interest, and penalties. The Labor Commissioner may also even hold an individual who acted on behalf of the employer personally liable for the wage violations.

Restrictions for E-Verify Use

Employers should know that E-Verify is a program that uses information from several databases to allow an employer to know whether a particular individual is authorized for work in the U.S. AB 622, however, creates stricter limitations on when an employer can make use of this system. Employers may only use E-Verify in a manner required by a federal agency or federal law. If an employer uses E-Verify prior to an offer of employment or to check on the status of existing employees when not required by law, they risk penalties of up to $10,000 per instance for "unlawful employment practice" and may face allegations of unlawful discrimination based on immigration status.

Contact a San Jose Business Litigation Attorney Today

The above are only a few examples of new laws that may significantly affect employers in California in 2016. The ever-changing employment laws can be overwhelming, so it is important to discuss your situation with an experienced San Jose employment law attorney to ensure you are in compliance with all relevant laws and to avoid any allegations of violations. Call the law office of Diemer, Whitman & Cardosi, LLP at 408-971-6270 today.

Sources:

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB358

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB588

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB622

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