New Employment Laws for California in 2012

By  Dan DiLullo, PHR, Director of Operations, Suna Solutions

California’s legal landscape is more demanding, and in many ways, more complex than other states. Despite the fact that California appears low on many business-climate surveys and rankings, businesses continue to thrive. After Texas, California ranks highest for number of Fortune 1000 company headquarters; business leaders and human resources managers have to know more, train more, and safeguard their companies from a wide variety of risks. Keeping HR professionals on their toes, and adding to the size of new hire packets, a number of new state laws (about two dozen according to a list published by the California Chamber of Commerce) went into effect in 2012, some of them include:

AB 887 amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to include “gender identity” and “gender expression” in the definition of “gender” making it clear that discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression is prohibited.  The law addresses workplace dress codes, requiring employers to allow employees to appear or dress consistently with their gender expression.

SB 559 amends the FEHA and the Unruh Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of genetic information. This includes participation in clinical research by an individual (or even a family member of an individual.)

AB 22 adds Labor Code section 1024.5, not only strictly limiting the use of credit reports for screening potential employees, but requiring that the written notice given to prospective employees before requesting a credit check identify the specific basis under Labor Code section 1024.5(a) for use of the report. The law limits the use of credit reports to employees in managerial (must be exempt) positions or financial positions, as well as positions with access to confidential or proprietary information.

Each month it seems, there are new penalties for misclassifying employees and contractors. Here’s another:SB 459 adds Section 226.8 to the Labor Code to prohibit willful misclassification of individuals as independent contractors. A new penalty of 5,000 to 15,000 per violation has been added to existing penalties. This fine increases if the Labor & Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) or a court determines the employer has engaged in a pattern or practice of these violations to not less than $10,000 and not more than $25,000 for each violation. In keeping with a behavioral deterrent to companies, the new law requires public notification of violations.

AB 1396 Amending Labor Code section 2751, AB1396 seems like common sense. It requires all employees receiving commissions to have that commission plan in writing. AS well, the commission plan or contract must describe the method used for calculating commissions and how and when they are to be paid. for employment involving commissions as a method of payment to be in writing and to set forth the method by which the commissions are required to be computed and paid.

AB469 requires employers to provide non-exempt employees a notice at the time of hire that includes details including pay rate, pay ‘type’ (hourly, salary, commission, etc) including rates for OT if applicable; the company’s payday; and the name (including DBA’s), address and contact information for employer and of the employer’s workers’ comp provider. Whether it’s posted in the workplace or not, this information will now have to be provided individually to each employee as a notice. The California labor commissioner will provide a template. This Labor Code section also requires employers to notify employees in writing within seven calendar days if any of the above information changes, unless it’s provided in a wage statement within the same 7 day period.

Join Suna and Amerit Consulting on March 7, 2012 in La Jolla, Calif. for our first LAW DAY for in-depth discussion and explanation of the new federal and state employment laws. Plus, in attending the event you will earn points toward certification!