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California Governor Extends Wage Claim and Cal/OSHA Deadlines

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its continued impact on daily life, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order (EO) N-63-20 on May 7, 2020, extending certain statutory and regulatory deadlines for individuals, businesses, and governmental agencies in California. In addition to other temporary changes, EO N-63-20 extends the time for employees to file certain claims for unpaid wages with the state labor commissioner, the time for the state to issue certain workplace safety citations under the California Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the time for employers to appeal such citations.

Occupational Safety and Health Citations

California Labor Code Section 6317 empowers the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to issue a citation or notice of violation for any of the rules enforced by Cal/OSHA within six months after the occurrence of the alleged violation. EO N-63-20 extends the time in which Cal/OSHA may issue such citations “for a period of 60 days to the limited extent” that such citations “would otherwise elapse in the 60-day period” following the order. [Emphasis added.] In other words, the executive order only extends the time for Cal/OSHA to issue any citation in which the six-month statute of limitations was set to expire between May 7, 2020, and July 6, 2020, an unprecedented extension never before seen in California. This extension may allow for the inspectors who have been working remotely and who have been limited in their ability to conduct onsite inspections to work through their backlog of inspections and issue citations to California employers.

For employers, the inverse of this order is that EO N-63-20 extends the time for employers to appeal Cal/OSHA citations from 15 working days after receipt to 75 days. Again, this only applies to those appeals that would otherwise require filing within the 60-day period between May 7, 2020, and July 6, 2020. In most cases, any citation issued during this 60-day period will not require an appeal until 75 days after receipt. These additional days have never been used before in the administrative appeal process.

Claims for Unpaid Wages and Discrimination

EO N-63-20 also extends the time for workers to file claims that would otherwise expire between May 7, 2020, and June 6, 2020, with the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement by 60 days. As with the changes involving citations and appeals by Cal/OSHA, this measure only impacts those claims for wages, discrimination, or other protections under the Labor Code that would otherwise expire during this 60-day period. It is unclear at this time whether such rules would impact the statute of limitations for bringing such claims (where appropriate) in court, or just those claims that proceed before the labor commissioner. The claims specifically identified by the governor’s order include all claims for unpaid wages (Labor Code § 98), discrimination (Labor Code § 98.7), and protections for workers in the talent agency and garment manufacturing industries (Labor Code §§ 1700.44, and 2673.1).

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 153


About this Author

Paul Smith Employment Lawyer California Ogletree Deakins

Paul Smith is an associate in the Sacramento Office of Ogletree Deakins. He crafts a practical, client-based approach to the defense of his clients in employment disputes spanning state and federal court, administrative proceedings, and arbitration.

Paul has experience working with small and large employers in matters of single and multi-plaintiff wage and hour disputes. He has also represented employers against allegations of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and unfair labor practices.

916 840-3146
Karen Tynan, employment lawyer, Ogletree Deakins
Of Counsel

Karen Tynan is an of counsel attorney in the Sacramento office of Ogletree Deakins. Karen is originally from the state of Georgia, and after graduating with honors from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, she worked for Chevron Shipping Company for ten years – sailing as a ship's officer on oil tankers rising to the rank of Chief Officer with her Unlimited Master’s License as well as San Francisco Bay pilotage endorsement.  Karen was the highest ranking woman in the Chevron fleet when she left her seafaring life.  This maritime and petroleum experience is unique among employment lawyers and brings a “real world” approach to working with management and achieving litigation goals.

After her decade in the merchant marine, Karen relocated to California and graduated cum laude from Empire College School of Law.  During law school, she clerked with the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office for two years.  The last decade, Karen’s specialized in defending employers in the workplace safety arena and defending sexual harassment and wrongful termination lawsuits for California employers including construction companies, transportation companies, wineries, and media companies.  Recent notable successes include a 2017 defense verdict in a sexual harassment case in Napa County for a large construction company as well as successful settlement of Cal OSHA citations with a 90% reduction in fines for Willful and Serious citations issued out of Oakland for a large San Francisco based company in 2018.  Karen’s expertise also includes blood-borne pathogen regulatory compliance related to the Cal/OSHA standard for hospitals, nursing homes, and general industry.  She effectively defended five companies regarding the proper hazard minimization with regard to blood-borne pathogens in California.

Karen has been a community leader in Northern California taking leadership positions in a number of school boards and community organizations including libraries and professional organizations.  She is the founding counsel for the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing which brought prize equality to women’s surfing by working closely with the leading big-wave women athletes and the California Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission from 2016 through 2018. 

918 840 3150