employment law

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.

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.

Is LinkedIn Violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

Is LinkedIn Violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

In my December 2014 post for Maximize Social Business, I explored some bad news for LinkedIn. First, in a new class action complaint filed in California (Sweet v. LinkedIn), LinkedIn is facing claims that it violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).

The lawsuit involves LinkedIn’s “Reference Search” service, which is only available to premium account holders. The service identifies connections in the premium account holder’s network who share a common past employer with the job applicant.

So, essentially, it organizes, cross-references and provides information to premium account holders about those who might have some relevant information about the job applicant’s work at a prior employer.

The four named plaintiffs allege that they were denied jobs with prospective employers because those employers contacted other LinkedIn users identified by the “Reference Search” as having worked with them (and presumably, those identified LinkedIn users did not give positive feedback on the plaintiffs). To see more about this lawsuit, and my analysis of it, read my article titled: “Allegations of LinkedIn Violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act“.

In my same post, I also analyze a $6 million settlement that LinkedIn entered into with the US Department of Labor regarding alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act due to the failure to pay employees all the time worked, including overtime, by those employees.

The Law On Social Media and Employment Is Still Evolving

The Law On Social Media and Employment Is Still Evolving

Social media and technology keep advancing at a rapid pace. The law has furiously been trying to catch up. For a short time, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) was at the forefront of creating the framework for social media and employment law. In June 2014, however, the U.S. Supreme Court stalled, at least temporarily, the NLRB’s efforts to create new guidance.

In my July 2014 post for Maximize Social Business, I briefly analyzed the case of National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning and how the Supreme Court will impact the NLRB’s progress. And, I specifically analyzed how this court decision will impact the landscape of social media and employment law. Only time will tell if the NLRB will catch up with its work before technology moves beyond today’s workplace technologies.