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Volume XI, Number 105

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Ah, It’s Bill Passing Season in California again – and No Employer is Safe!

It’s springtime in California!  And even as the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano, the California legislature is busy, busy, busy passing hundreds of new laws because, after all, you can never get too much of a good thing!

Yes, it’s Bill Passing Season in Sacramento, and the California legislature seems as determined as ever to defend the state’s vaunted position as one of the top “Judicial Hellholes” in the nation!

In that vein, The California Chamber of Commerce has just identified a host of recently introduced “Job Killer” Bills from the California Legislature.

This year’s list includes 18 bills that would expand Cal/OSHA authority and enforcement; create a new single-payer health care system; impose new mandatory leave requirements; and further increase taxes.  As is often the case, many of these measures seem to be “solutions in search of a problem,” according to Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Allan Zaremberg.

Here are a few:

  • AB-71 (Rivas, L.; D-Arleta) Corporate Tax Increase: Would increase tax rates for corporations and financial institutions with $5,000,000 or more in profits. This is one of several pending proposals to increase taxes in California—which already has the highest personal income taxes, excise and sales taxes, and gas taxes in the country—and comes despite a projected $26 billion surplus plus another $26 billion in unanticipated funds from the federal government under the recently-passed American Rescue Plan.

  • AB-95 (Low; D-Campbell) New Bereavement Leave Mandate: Would impose on all employers the obligation to provide employees bereavement leave upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or domestic partner, regardless of how long the employee has worked for the employer.

  • AB-995 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) Sick Leave Expansion: Would require all employers to provide five days of paid sick leave to employees. Employers would also be required to allow a total paid sick leave accrual of 80 hours.

  • AB-1003 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) “Wage Theft” Punishable as Grand Theft: Would make “’the intentional theft of wages” (which is often attributable to a good faith mistake) punishable as “grand ,” which can be punished as a misdemeanor, by fine, or through a civil action by the employee or labor commissioner to recover wages, benefits, and other compensation.

  • AB-1074 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) Rehiring Displaced Workers: Would require employers to offer certain of its laid-off janitorial and hotel services employees specified information regarding job positions for which they are qualified that become available.  “Laid-off employees” are those who worked for the employer for six or more of the twelve months preceding January 1, 2020 and were laid-off for a COVID-19 related purpose.

  • AB-1119 (Wicks; D-Oakland) Expansion of FEHA Duty to Accommodate: Would add “family responsibilities” to the list of protected categories under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and would prohibit discrimination against employees based on those “family responsibilities.”  The bill would also require employers to reasonably accommodate employees who are providing ongoing care to a family member whose school or place of care is otherwise unavailable.

  • AB-1179 (Carrillo; D-Los Angeles) Employer Childcare Funding: Would require employers with 1,000 or more employees to provide up to 60 hours of paid backup childcare to employees once they been employed for at least 30 days. This law would apply to childcare obtained by the employee when the regular childcare provider is unavailable.

  • AB-1400 (Kalra; D-San Jose) Guaranteed Health Care for All: Would effectively eliminate private health insurance in favor of shifting the responsibility for financing and administering health coverage in California to the state government. While the measure does not even attempt to estimate the cost of such a bold initiative, a similar measure that failed in 2017 would have cost an estimated $400 billion per year.

  • SB-213 (Cortese; D-San Jose) Expands Presumption of Injury: Would create a presumption of work-related injury for health-facility employees who contract COVID-19. For hospital employees who provide direct patient care, the bill also would expand the presumption of work-related injury to include illness or death caused by: blood-borne infectious diseases; MERSA; Tuberculosis, Meningitis, and COVID-19.

  • SB-606 (Gonzalez; D-Long Beach) Expands Cal/OSHA Authority: Would require Cal/OSHA to cite those who violate certain provisions related to the spraying of asbestos. If an employer has multiple worksites and a written policy that violates this law, this bill would also create a rebuttable presumption that policy requires enterprise-wide abatement. Would also create a rebuttable presumption of retaliation for an employee discharged within 90 days of disclosing a COVID-19 diagnosis due to workplace exposure, or for requesting testing for COVID-19 as a result of such exposure.

We will continue to track the progress of these and any other “job killer” bills as they move through the Legislature.

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© 2021 Proskauer Rose LLP. National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 88
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About this Author

Anthony J Oncidi, Employment Attorney, Proskauer Rose Law Firm
Partner

Anthony J. Oncidi heads the Labor & Employment Law Group in the Los Angeles office. Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection....

310-284-5690
Associate

Dylan Tedford is an associate in our Labor and Employment Department. Dylan graduated from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, where he was a member of the Hale Moot Court Honors Program and served in several student organizations. While at USC, he was a legal extern for Judge Gregg Zive in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada. Prior to law school, Dylan was a government affairs coordinator for a lobbying firm in Nevada.

310-557-4566
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