Photo of Susan F. Eandi

In the wake of the #HeForShe movement, California recently became the first US state to require companies to put female directors on their corporate boards.

Supporters of the law make a convincing business case for gender diversity, citing rigorous research findings showing companies where women are represented at board or top-management levels are also the companies that perform best financially. Beyond the business case however, there is also a sense that increased representation is critical to discussions and decisions affecting corporate culture and ensuring workplace respect and dignity.

Now is the time to focus on building a strong corporate culture of equality and respect. California is advancing a trend started in Australia and a number of European countries in recognizing the importance of gender-balanced corporate boards. Germany, Italy and the Netherlands all have initiatives in place to boost corporate board representation.

Baker McKenzie is uniquely positioned to guide companies in developing globally compliant corporate diversity and inclusion initiatives, including board compliance issues. Click here for more information on board level D&I initiatives around the globe, and how we can help.

As employment lawyers based in California are well aware that post-employment non-compete agreements are generally void as a matter of law in this state. Further, there is precedent for awarding punitive damages and disgorgement of profits where employers have knowingly required employees to enter into invalid agreements. Also, the DOL has actively pursued California-based companies engaging in anti-competitive practices when it comes to talent.

Against that backdrop, however, employers need not “throw in the towel” completely when it comes to post-termination restrictive covenants as there are a few narrow scenarios that allow for enforceable post-termination non-competes in California in the right circumstances, and a potential new take on an old strategy to consider.

Continue Reading Can Employers Use The California Labor Code To Protect Company Assets?

California just became the first state to require companies to put female directors on their boards.

“Given all the special privileges that corporations have enjoyed for so long, it’s high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half the ‘persons’ in America,” Governor Jerry Brown wrote in signing Senate Bill 826 into law on September 30. The legislation appears sparked by recent debates around sexual harassment, workplace culture and gender equality, and it comes less than one year after Brown signed the state’s salary history ban.

Continue Reading California Becomes First State To Mandate Female Board Of Directors

With the modern workforce comes modern employment problems. Businesses and workers alike have embraced the “gig economy,” but employment laws were not designed for workforces dominated by independent contractors and freelancers. This disconnect leaves gig economy businesses open to significant liability where such workers should have been classified as employees under the law.

Continue Reading New York Delivers Good News For Independent Contractors, But Risks Remain

Two recent events in the US vividly illustrate the growing centrality of gender pay equity issues. On one side of the ledger, in early April 2018, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Rizo v. Fresno County Office of Education, held that an employee’s prior salary—either alone or in a combination of factors—cannot be used to justify paying women less than men in comparable jobs. On the other side of the ledger, the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, on April 20, 2018, announced that it is upending standards implemented during President Obama’s administration designed to promote gender pay equity among federal contractors. Under this new policy, employers will be able to decide for themselves how their employees should be categorized and analyzed for purposes of fair pay investigations by the government.

These two US events are merely the latest examples of increased activity around the globe with regard to the issue of pay equity.  Click here to read more.

With the current focus on US multinational operations around the world and the pressure to meet globally acceptable and locally effective compliance, companies regularly turn to global employment policies as a tool to manage their local employment-related risks. Often the desire is to house these policies in a single “global” employment handbook. As efficient as it may seem to have a single employment handbook, a truly one-size-fits-all single, global handbook most often is not a realistic option. This paper discusses the potential problem with a single “global” handbook and outlines three approaches to get US multinationals to the same result while fully complying with local laws.

Click here to read the entire article, originally published in Bloomberg BNA.

Baker McKenzie partner Susan Eandi introduces Rowan McKenzie to discuss  employment laws in Hong Kong and give an overview of what changed in 2017, as well as what we can expect in 2018.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Increase in minimum wage – came through in May 2017
  2. Be aware of what right to reinstatement may end up looking like
  3. Cognizant of potential changes in work hours and overtime for low wage earners
  4. Abolition of the Mandatory Provident Fund offset upon termination and any potential relief that may be provided to employers
  5. Staying ahead of potential changes to immigration policy

Download now on iTunes | Android | Stitcher | TuneIn | Google Play.

Baker McKenzie partner Susan Eandi introduces Chris Burkett from Toronto to talk about employment laws in Canada and give an overview of what’s changed in 2017 as well as what we can expect in 2018.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Employers must review their workplace health and safety policies to ensure that anti-harassment polices are up to date and that training is in place, particularly around sexual harassment.
  2. Review termination clauses in employment agreements to ensure compliance with ESA and clarity of language and intent.
  3. Implement the minimum wage and equal pay obligations that are now in force.
  4. Be proactive in managing the use of cannabis in the workplace, particularly where accommodation requests come into play.
  5. Prepare for expanding supply chain + ESG transparency and global corporate human rights obligations. If operating globally, ensure you have a policy and due diligence program in place to mitigate adverse human rights impacts and lower risk of exposure to human rights lawsuits and reputational damage.

Download now on iTunes | Android | Stitcher | TuneIn | Google Play.

In mid-December, we hosted our Annual California Update in Millbrae, CA. We were so pleased to see many of you in attendance.

Our End-of-Year Newsletter will hit inboxes shortly, but until then – here’s our top 10 New Year’s resolutions for multinationals in 2018:

Continue Reading Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions For California-Based Multinational Employers

Slavery and human trafficking has become a priority for many governments around the world.

The UK Government passed the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to simplify and bring up to date the criminal law in relation to modern slavery and human trafficking. The Act (section 54) imposes a new obligation on UK businesses to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement setting out the steps it has taken to ensure slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of its business or supply chain.

What businesses does this impact?

The requirement applies to all businesses that supply goods or services in the UK provided that it has an annual turnover of £36m. It does not need to be a UK registered entity. The turnover does not need to be UK turnover, provided it supplies some goods or services in the UK. The turnover of subsidiary entities (but not parent entities) is included in assessing whether the threshold is met. There is no requirement for the organisation to have a minimum number of employees, a minimum balance sheet total, or to be incorporated (or formed, if it is a partnership) in the UK. As a result, these rules will have extraterritorial effect and apply to a much wider range of organisations than just large companies under the UK Companies Act.

For more, read the informative alert (here) authored by our colleagues in London, Monica Kurnatowska and John Evason.

Reach out to your Baker McKenzie lawyer for the steps businesses should be taking to ensure compliance with the Modern Slavery Act,  as well measures to consider taking with both suppliers and within your own business to address issues of modern slavery.