United States: New California Employment Laws For 2014

Keywords: California, employment laws, 2014

The California state legislature continues to enact laws designed to provide employees additional protections and benefits. In this edition of our US Employment Litigation Roundup, we take a look at some of the more important statutes enacted by the California legislature in 2013 that will apply to companies with California-based employees in 2014. Other jurisdictions often follow California's lead, so other states may see similar statutes enacted in the future. Except where otherwise specified, all of the new laws take effect on January 1, 2014.

Minimum Wage Increases

The state minimum wage of $8 per hour will increase to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014, and to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016.

Expansion of Paid Family Leave Benefits

The California Paid Family Leave law currently provides employees with up to six weeks of paid time off to care for a seriously ill spouse, child, domestic partner or parent, or to bond with a child within one year of birth. A new statute, SB 770, extends the categories of relatives covered by Paid Family Leave to include seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren and parents-in-law.

Expansion of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Victim Protection

The California Labor Code currently prohibits an employer from discharging, discriminating against or otherwise retaliating against an employee who is a victim of domestic abuse and has taken time off in connection with the domestic abuse (e.g. to attend court proceedings). SB 400 extends this protection to include stalking victims.

In addition, SB400 mandates that employers provide reasonable accommodations for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking if the employee discloses that he or she is a victim of such a crime. A similar law, SB 288, prohibits discriminating against or retaliating against an employee who is a victim of felonies such as child abuse, domestic violence, physical abuse of the elderly or dependent adults, sexual assault and solicitation for murder, and who takes time off to appear in various proceedings related to those crimes.

Expanded Whistleblower Retaliation Protections

Currently, Labor Code 1102.5 prohibits employers from attempting to prevent an employee from disclosing to a government or law enforcement entity the employer's violation of, or noncompliance with, a state or federal statute, rule or regulation, or from otherwise retaliating against an employee for doing so. Case law under that statute has excluded employees whose duties included the disclosure of legal compliance information from being categorized as whistleblowers. However, SB 494 expands the definition of whistleblowers to include such employees, thus overruling the prior case law.

Protections for "Domestic Work Employees"

AB 241 establishes new rights for "domestic work employees." Under this law, a "personal attendant" who works more than nine hours in any workday, or more than 45 hours in any workweek, must be paid time and a half for all hours worked in excess of those amounts. While the law defines "domestic work" broadly, it does not include employees in facilities providing boarding or lodging or employees involved in medical, nursing, convalescent, aged or child care.

Expanding Protection for Undocumented Workers

A series of new laws provide greater protections for immigrants who exercise their employment-related rights. Under AB 263, "an unfair immigration-related practice" is any of the following when done for a retaliatory purpose: (i) requesting more or different documents than required by federal immigration law, or refusing to honor tendered documents that reasonably appear on their face to be genuine; (ii) using the federal E-Verify system to check the employment authorization status of a person at a time or in a manner not required by federal law or not authorized by any memorandum of understanding governing the use of the E-Verify system; (iii) threatening to file, or filing, a false police report; or (iv) threatening to contact, or contacting, the immigration authorities.

The bill also prohibits employers from taking adverse action against employees who make updates to their personal information that are unrelated to skills, qualifications or knowledge. This seemingly innocuous provision may prevent termination for providing false work authorization documents and subsequently updating the information.

Another new statute, SB 666, expands the definition of "adverse action" to include reporting, or threatening to report, to a government agency the suspected citizenship or immigration status of a worker or the worker's family in retaliation for the worker's exercising a lawful right. An employer that engages in an unfair immigration-related practice can lose its business license. Such conduct could also subject the employer to charges of criminal extortion pursuant to AB 524.

SB 666 also provides for disciplinary action, up to and including disbarment, against a California licensed attorney who reports or threatens to report the suspected immigration status of a witness or party in an administrative or civil matter because that person has exercised a lawful employment-related right.

Restriction of Employers' Right to Recover Attorneys' Fees and Costs

Labor Code 218.5 previously required a court to award attorneys' fees and costs to the prevailing party in an action for the nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension fund contributions. Kirby v. Immoos Fire Protection (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1244, 1248. SB 462 changes the law such that an employer now can only be awarded attorneys' fees and costs if the court determines that the employee brought the action in "bad faith."

Military and Veteran Status Protected Category

AB 556 adds a new protected classification under the Fair Employment Housing Act for "military and veteran status."

Recovery of Unremitted Employee Wage Withholdings

Under SB 390, an employer that fails to remit withholdings from a worker's wages to the appropriate local, state or federal agency is guilty of a crime. Any recovery or restitution resulting from a criminal proceeding is to be paid to the agency or entity to whom it is owed.

Expansion of Rights under New San Francisco Ordinance

San Francisco's new Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance provides a process by which employees have the right to request changes to their work conditions to help them meet their caregiver responsibilities to: a child; a seriously ill spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent; or a parent 65 years or older. The new law applies to all employers that regularly employ 20 or more employees and to employees who have worked at least six months and work at least eight hours a week. The employees can seek accommodations in terms of hours worked, schedule, work location, work assignment and predictability of work schedule. A request must be made in writing and must explain why the change will assist in meeting caregiver obligations. This begins a process that can include meetings and requests for reconsideration. San Francisco's Office of Labor Standards Enforcement will investigate alleged violations of the law's administrative, posting, and documentation requirements but will not look into the validity of an employer's denial of a request.

Originally published January 2014

Learn more about our Employment Litigation & Counseling practice.

Visit us at mayerbrown.com

Mayer Brown is a global legal services provider comprising legal practices that are separate entities (the "Mayer Brown Practices"). The Mayer Brown Practices are: Mayer Brown LLP and Mayer Brown Europe – Brussels LLP, both limited liability partnerships established in Illinois USA; Mayer Brown International LLP, a limited liability partnership incorporated in England and Wales (authorized and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and registered in England and Wales number OC 303359); Mayer Brown, a SELAS established in France; Mayer Brown JSM, a Hong Kong partnership and its associated entities in Asia; and Tauil & Chequer Advogados, a Brazilian law partnership with which Mayer Brown is associated. "Mayer Brown" and the Mayer Brown logo are the trademarks of the Mayer Brown Practices in their respective jurisdictions.

© Copyright 2014. The Mayer Brown Practices. All rights reserved.

This Mayer Brown article provides information and comments on legal issues and developments of interest. The foregoing is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek specific legal advice before taking any action with respect to the matters discussed herein.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions