Legal Updates

Top 4 New California Laws and Top 5 Tips for California Employers in 2018

Top 4 New California Laws and Top 5 Tips for California Employers in 2018

This year, the California Legislature introduced a whopping 2,495 bills – and hundreds of these had to do with labor and employment issues.  Governor Brown signed many into law on October 15, 2017. Here are the top 4 new laws for 2018:

“BAN THE BOX” – Criminal Conviction History 

Los Angeles and San Francisco already had local ordinances prohibiting employers for asking about criminal histories before a job is offered to an applicant. This new law (AB 1008) applies similar requirements upon employers statewide.

The law prohibits employers with five (5) or more employees from considering criminal history until a conditional offer of employment has been made. If an employer decides to deny employment based on the criminal history, it must make an individualized assessment as to the 1) nature and gravity of the offense or conduct, 2) the time that has passed since the offense or conduct and completion of the sentence, and 3) the nature of the job held or sought.

If the employer determines not to hire the applicant, it must provide notice to the employee of 1) the disqualifying conviction that is a basis for the decision, 2) a copy of the conviction history, and 3) an explanation of the applicant’s right to respond before the decision becomes final and the deadline by which to respond (at least five business days).

If employer makes a final decision to deny employment, it must provide another written notice containing 1) the final denial or disqualification, 2) any existing procedure the employer has for the applicant to challenge the decision or request reconsideration, and 3) the right to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).


This new law (AB 168) prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history, including compensation and benefits. Employers also cannot rely on salary history information of an applicant as a factor in determining whether to offer employment to an applicant or what salary to offer an applicant. Applicants, however, can “voluntarily and without prompting” disclose salary history information, and if so, then the employer can rely or consider such information in determining salary for that applicant.

Also, employers must provide, upon reasonable request, the pay scale for the position.


Currently, employers with 50 or more employees are required to comply with the California Family Rights Act and provide parental leave of up to 12 weeks to bond with a new child (birth, adoption, foster care placement) within one year. This new law (SB 63) lowers the number of employees for covered businesses to 20 employees in a 75-mile radius. The law also prohibits an employer from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes this leave. The employer must provide the employee with a guarantee of employment in the same or comparable position following the leave.

The employee must also meet certain eligibility requirements like those under the CFRA and federal Family Medical Leave Act. The leave is unpaid, however, the employee can use accrued vacation pay, paid sick time, or other accrued paid time off.


Under the new law (AB 1701), General Contractors on a private construction project can be liable for wage and benefit liabilities incurred by subcontractors at any tier of the project. This would include items like unpaid/underpaid wages, unpaid overtime and related wage violations. General Contractors can request from subcontractors the payroll records.

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Top Tips for Employers:

  1. Get those Employee Handbooks updated, and start training Managers and Supervisors on these new laws.
  2. Edit applications so that they do not contain “taboo” questions regarding salary history and criminal backgrounds.
  3. Edit job postings (“help wanted ads”) so that they do not ask applicants to send in salary history information when applying.
  4. Pre-determine pay scales for jobs, and create a process to respond to reasonable inquiries regarding those pay scales.
  5. Stay informed! There are several other important new employment laws as well, including those involving anti-harassment training, immigration, human trafficking, and retaliation and whistleblowing.

For over 21 years, James has provided day-to-day counseling and advice to employers regarding compliance with employment laws, and reducing risks of employment-related claims and lawsuits. He also provides vigorous and strategic litigation defense when claims and lawsuits do arise.  In 2018, James will serve as the President of the Contra Costa County Bar Association, and has been on the Board for many years.

DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this website is not legal advice. It does not create an attorney-client relationship. Nor should you act on anything stated in this article without conferring with the Author or other legal counsel regarding your specific situation.

Egg-Freezing: Will It Help Women at Work?

Egg-Freezing: Will It Help Women at Work?

Apple, Facebook, and other employers have often struggled to recruit and retain female employees in a male-dominated industry. Recently, these companies – as well as others including law and financial services firms – have been adding new employee benefits to attract high-quality, professional women to keep on their payroll.

One of the newest benefits offered is cryo-preservation, also known as egg-freezing. Some believe this new benefit is great for women who want to have a career and delay raising children, and for those women who have not yet found the right partner with whom to start a family. Others see this “benefit” as another way of forcing women to choose career over family, insinuating that women cannot have both a career and family simultaneously.

In my article titled “Egg-Freezing: Is it Truly an Employee Benefit,” co-author Claudia Castillo and I examine some of the social, economic, and legal issues surrounding this new employee benefit. We encourage you to read the article published in the Contra Costa Lawyer magazine and add your own comments to the conversation.

Six Million Likes Lead To A Lawsuit

Six Million Likes Lead To A Lawsuit

Employers often want their employees and/or contractors to promote their business via social media. Harnessing the power of a “share” and a “like” can be one of the best ways to raise the profile of any business. Perhaps because of the value of a “like,” an employer was recently sued by a former employee regarding the property interest in over six million “likes” on a Fan Page.

In my article titled “Employee Sues Employer Over Ownership of Six Million Likes” published by Maximize Social Business, I summarize and analyze the case of Mattocks v. Black Entertainment Television, LLC. and offer tips for employers to prevent a costly lawsuit regarding the ownership of “likes”, as well as employee-maintained social media sites.

One tip is to work with an employment law attorney as well as a social media strategist. My clients know that I take a holistic view of the employer’s health, and I will not hesitate to provide a referral to an excellent social media strategist (and other top-notch professionals), as needed. Let’s talk!

2015: New Employment Laws In California

2015: New Employment Laws In California

For 2015, California employers must be aware of a few important (and somewhat complicated) new – or changed – employment laws. I am happy to post a PDF version of 10 of those new employment laws in California. Some of these new laws should be reflected in Employee Handbooks, involve providing notices to employees, and require new training for managers and supervisors.

10 New Employment Laws for 2015

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss these laws, to update your company’s Employee Handbook and other essential documents and agreements, or for assistance regarding any other employment/HR issue.

Employee Tweets Disliked By Federal Trade Commission

Employee Tweets Disliked By Federal Trade Commission

Employee advocacy, aka employee engagement via social media, has been a hot trend with marketers, PR professionals, and business owners. This is because, in many ways, a company’s own employees are the best folks to endorse and promote the company’s own products and services, as well as the products and services of clients and customers. However, harnessing this power takes advanced preparation, guidance and a thoughtful process.

Recently, Deutsch LA caught the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) when its employees used Twitter to promote a client’s product (Sony’s PS Vita game console). Specifically, the FTC alleged that various Deutsch LA employees posted positive tweets about the PS Vita to their personal Twitter accounts, without disclosing their connection to Deutsch LA or Sony (a client). The FTC charged that the employee tweets were misleading, as they did not reflect the views of actual consumers who had used the PS Vita, and because they did not disclose that they were written by employees of Deutsch LA.

In my January 2015 article titled “Employees’ Tweets Lead to FTC Enforcement” I explore the FTC’s allegations against Deutsch LA and provide some best practices for companies who have employees who use social media (so just about every employer).