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Caroline Burnett is a Knowledge Lawyer in Baker McKenzie’s North America Employment & Compensation Group. Caroline is passionate about analyzing trends in US and global employment law and developing innovative solutions to help multinationals stay ahead of the curve. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie in 2016, she had a broad employment law practice at a full-service, national firm. Caroline holds a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law (2008) and a B.A. from Brown University (2002).

Following in the steps of precedent setting legislation mandating women on boards two years ago, on September 30, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 979 into law mandating diversity on certain public company boards of directors. The new law requires publicly held corporations headquartered in California to include at least one person from an underrepresented community by the end of next year, with additional appointments required in future years.

New Obligations

The new legislation is the first of its kind in the U.S. and is the second time California seeks to mandate diversification of public company boards through legislation. (Read more about the 2018 legislation requiring companies to put female directors on their boards here.) The first piece of legislation aimed at increasing gender diversity; AB 979 seeks to increase diversity from “underrepresented communities.”


Continue Reading California Mandates More Diversity in Corporate Boardrooms

The federal guidance on whether to classify a worker as an employee or an independent contractor continues to shift, as the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a new proposed rule favorable for companies. If finalized, the rule may provide businesses with greater latitude to engage independent contractors.

Continue Reading New DOL Proposed Rule Makes It Easier For Companies to Engage Independent Contractors

Last week Governor Newsom signed three important bills into law:

  1. SB 1159: Expands Presumption of Workers’ Compensation Liability for COVID-19 Illness Claims

SB 1159 expands access to workers’ compensation by creating a rebuttable presumption of compensable injury for front line workers — health care workers, firefighters and peace officers. The presumption, while rebuttable, makes

Organizations will continue to be held accountable for diversity, equality and inclusion post-COVID-19 and in connection with the Black Lives Matter movement. The next few video chats in our series will help in-house counsel and HR executives who are working to build a strong corporate culture of professionalism and respect do so in a way

Big thanks to Kim Sartin in our London office for her contributions to this post.

As many businesses start to reopen, and travel restrictions are lifted in some locations, employers are gearing up for the inevitable question — when can employees travel? At the moment, we’re certainly seeing companies re-starting business travel that is deemed

As predicted, on Friday, California Governor Newsom signed AB 2257 into law. The most significant changes are expanding the exemptions to AB 5’s coverage, that is, widening the range of occupations that will be held to an earlier standard for determining employment status. The new law takes effect immediately. For our coverage of AB 2257,

A potential amendment to California’s AB 5 law is sitting on Governor Newsom’s desk. If enacted, the amendment will allow certain professions to be classified as independent contractors rather than employees, notwithstanding AB 5’s presumption of employment status. On August 31, the California legislature sent AB 2257 to Governor Newsom for his review and signature. Supporters of the bill expect Newsom to sign it into law next month, especially given AB 5’s perceived negative impact on the “gig” economy during the pandemic. If signed by the governor, the law will take effect immediately.

By way of brief reminder, AB 5 established a 3-part test, known as the “ABC” test, that is used to determine if workers are employees or independent contractors for purposes of the Labor Code, the Unemployment Insurance Code, and the wage orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission. Under the ABC test, a person providing labor or services for remuneration is considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that the person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, the person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and the person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business. This broad test places most workers in the employee classification. AB 5, however, enumerated a few limited exemptions for specified occupations and business relationships from the application of the ABC test, providing that the exempt relationships are governed by the pre-AB 5 multi-factor test set out in S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations. (For more detail on AB 5, click here.)

AB 2257 will modify some of the current exceptions to AB 5, and create new exceptions to AB 5’s presumption that workers are employees. A close read of the bill’s text is necessary given the proposed amendments’ nuances and sometimes conflicting detail.  We outline below some of the major changes contemplated by AB 2257, but if your business potentially falls into one of the enumerated exceptions, we strongly recommend consulting with employment counsel given the complexities involved.

New Exceptions

If enacted into law, AB 2257 will allow the following professionals to be classified as independent contractors in California if they satisfy the Borello standard.


Continue Reading Big Changes Coming To California’s Landmark Independent Contractor Law? Sort of.

Welcome to Baker McKenzie’s new Labor & Employment video chat series for US employers, The Employer Rapport. Our lawyers will provide quick, practical tips on today’s most pressing issues for US employers navigating the new normal. The videos complement our blog, The Employer Report, which provides written legal updates and practical insights about

The latest wrinkle for employers managing employees in the time of COVID-19 relates to employee travel. Many employers are coming to us asking how to navigate the patchwork of US state and local quarantine restrictions and / or recommendations for persons who travel to hotspots and then have to quarantine when they return home.

Questions abound, including whether employers can just test employees for COVID-19 to avoid a 14-day quarantine period, and whether employers have to pay employees to follow a quarantine order when their employees voluntarily travel to a hotspot location. We provide background and answer those questions below.


Continue Reading Navigating Employee Travel in a Maze of State and Local Quarantine Orders and Travel Advisories

America’s political divisions seem to be deepening. And, what’s troubling for employers is that our polarized political climate appears to be affecting employee productivity significantly, according to research by Gartner. According to a nationwide survey in February, 47% of employees reported that debate surrounding the 2020 elections is impacting their ability to get work done.