This fall, California voters will have the opportunity to decide the fate of the state’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). After receiving more than the 700,000 signatures in support, the “California Employee Civil Action Law and PAGA Repeal Initiative” has qualified for the November 5, 2024 state ballot. If the initiative passes, PAGA will be repealed and replaced with the “Fair Pay and Employer Accountability Act,” which will double the statutory and civil penalties for willful state labor law violations, require 100% of monetary penalties be awarded to employees, and provide resources to employers to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws. The new law will preclude plaintiffs’ attorneys from recovering any fees in actions brought under the statute and impose other requirements to effectively “de-deputize” citizen attorneys general.

What Would the New Law Do?

In response to wide ranging criticism of PAGA, the ballot initiative seeks to repeal and replace PAGA with the Fair Pay and Employer Accountability Act. If passed, the initiative would:

  • Double statutory and civil penalties for willful violations;
  • Award 100% of monetary penalties to employees (instead of the current 25%);
  • Provide resources to employers to ensure labor compliance and allow employers opportunities to cure violations without penalties;
  • Require that the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) be a party to all labor complaints;
  • Prohibit award of attorneys’ fees (which are currently permitted under PAGA); and
  • Require that the state legislature fully fund the DLSE to meet the division’s requirements by law.

Continue Reading Is the End in Sight for PAGA Actions? Californians May Vote “YES” on November 5, 2024.

As a consistent trend-setter in passing employee-friendly legislation, California has enacted the country’s first workplace violence prevention safety requirements applicable to nearly all employers in the state.

SB 553 requires California employers to adopt a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan, train employees on workplace violence, and begin logging incidents by July 1, 2024.

Detailed Requirements for a Written Plan

The workplace violence prevention plan must be written, available and easily accessible to employees (as well as authorized employee representatives and Cal/OSHA representatives).Continue Reading California Employers: Prepare Your Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (Deadline In T-Minus 3 Months)

California’s regulators have made employment noncompetes (and knowing which employees are bound by them and how!) a key compliance item.

Effective January 1, 2024, AB 1076 amends Section 16600 of the state’s Business and Professions Code to “void the application of any noncompete agreement in an employment context, or any noncompete clause in an employment

Earlier this year, many of you tuned into our 2023 – 2024 Employer Update webinars to plant seeds for success for the year ahead.

Now, to ensure your compliance efforts are blooming, we’re sharing detailed checklists to help you ensure you’re ticking all the boxes!

The new year brought some good news for California employers. On January 1, 2024, U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller issued a decision permanently enjoining California state officials from enforcing AB 51, the contested law that sought to prohibit employers from “forcing” job applicants or employees to enter into pre-dispute employment arbitration agreements covering certain discrimination and retaliation claims. The permanent injunction reaffirmed the ability of employers to mandate arbitration for most employment disputes.

This decision comes less than a year after the Ninth Circuit found that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts AB 51 in Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Bonta. As noted in our blog post on the Bonta decision, the Ninth Circuit ultimately upheld a temporary injunction against AB 51, allowing California employers to continue to use employment arbitration agreements while the matter was litigated, and which—given Judge Mueller’s permanent injunction—now can continue indefinitely.

The Lead Up: Recap of the AB 51 Litigation Battle

Here is a quick summary of the AB 51 litigation leading up to the January 1, 2024 permanent injunction:

  • In December 2019, Judge Mueller issued a temporary restraining order, prohibiting California from enforcing AB 51.
  • In September 2021, the Ninth Circuit struck down Judge Mueller’s decision to temporarily restrain California from enforcing AB 51, holding that AB 51 was not largely preempted by the FAA.
  • In August 2022, the Ninth Circuit withdrew its September 2021 decision and voted to take another look at the case through a panel rehearing.
  • In February 2023, the Ninth Circuit, backtracking on their September 2021 decision, held that AB 51 is preempted by the FAA because the deterring penalties that AB 51 imposes on employers is antithetical to the FAA’s policy of favoring arbitration agreements.

Continue Reading End of the AB 51 Saga: California Employers Can and Should Continue Using Arbitration Agreements

Special thanks to co-authors Thomas Asmar, Victor Flores, Denise Glagau, Christopher Guldberg, Jen Kirk, Maura Ann McBreen, Lindsay Minnis, Kela Shang, Aimee Soodan and Brian Wydajewski.

As many readers likely know, last fall California doubled-down on the state’s hostility to noncompete agreements. Assembly Bill 1076 codified the landmark 2008 Edward v. Arthur Andersen decision that invalidated all employment noncompetes, including narrowly tailored ones, unless they satisfy a statutory exception.
   
AB 1076 also added new Business & Professions Code §16600.1, requiring California employers to notify current (and certain former) employees that any noncompete agreement or clause to which they may be subject is void (unless it falls within one of the limited statutory exceptions).

Individualized written notice must be sent by February 14, 2024 or significant penalties may apply.Continue Reading Don’t Miss California’s Noncompete Notice Requirement (Deadline 2/14/24) |Review Equity Award Agreements & Other Employment-Related Contracts ASAP

Special thanks to co-presenters Teresa Michaud and Bradford Newman.

California’s CLE Compliance Deadline Is Approaching…    
We can help!

If your last name starts with H-M, you are probably well aware that your CLE compliance deadline is right around the corner – February 1, 2024. In addition to the general credit requirement, the state of California requires all attorneys to complete:

  • At least four hours of legal ethics
  • At least one hour on competence issues
  • At least two hours on the elimination of bias in the legal profession and society. Of the two hours, at least one hour must focus on implicit bias and the promotion of bias-reducing strategies.

Our lawyers will offer three virtual sessions, focused on key considerations for AI development and utilization, to help you meet your CLE requirements. These sessions will also offer CLE credit in the states of Illinois, Texas, and New York. Participants requesting CLE for other states will receive uniform CLE certificates. 

Please register and let us know which individual session(s) you plan to attend. We look forward to your participation!


Promoting Unity: Overcoming the Risks of Bias and Prejudice in the Workplace

Tuesday, January 16, 2024 | 1:00 – 2:00 pm Pacific
1 hour Elimination of Bias credit (pending approval)Continue Reading California AI CLE Series

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You signed a noncompete,
That may not be true.

Last year, California lawmakers double-downed on the state’s hostility to noncompete agreements. One of the new provisions requires written notice to current and former employees that their noncompete is void – unless an exception applies – by Valentine’s Day (February 14, 2024).

Two New Bills Restricting Noncompetes in California

First, as covered in our Legislative Reference Guide, SB 699 extends the reach of the state’s ban on noncompetes to contracts signed out of state; creates a private right of action for employees whose agreements include restrictive covenants and provides for attorney fees for any current, former, or even prospective employee who successfully brings suit against an employer’s use of those restrictive covenants.

Second, AB 1076, codifies the 2008 Edward v. Arthur Andersen decision that invalidated all employment noncompetes, including narrowly tailored ones, unless they satisfy a statutory exception. In addition, impacting your Valentine’s Day plans, the legislation requires California employers to individually notify current and former employees employed since January 1, 2022 in writing by February 14, 2024 that their noncompete clauses are void. Individualized notice is required to the employee’s last known mailing and email addresses.Continue Reading No Love Lost: California’s Continued Crackdown on Noncompetes Requires Breakup Letters Sent Before Valentine’s Day

In this 75-minute “quick hits” style session, our team reviewed the challenges we helped California employers overcome in 2023 and the key legislative changes coming in 2024.

Among other topics, we discussed:

  • Best
  • On January 1, 2024, businesses must post updated Privacy Policies under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which requires annual updates of disclosures and fully applies in the job applicant and employment context since January 1, 2023.

    With respect to job applicants and employees, businesses subject to the CCPA are required to:

    1. Issue detailed privacy notices with prescribed disclosures, terminology, and organization;
    2. Respond to data subject requests from employees and job candidates for copies of information about them, correction, and deletion;
    3. Offer opt-out rights regarding disclosures of information to service providers, vendors, or others, except to the extent they implement qualified agreements that contain particularly prescribed clauses; and
    4. Offer opt-out rights regarding the use of sensitive information except to the extent they have determined they use sensitive personal information only within the scope of statutory exceptions.

    If employers sell, share for cross-context behavioral advertising, or use or disclose sensitive personal information outside of limited purposes, numerous additional compliance obligations apply. For more: see also our related previous post: Employers Must Prepare Now for New California Employee Privacy Rights.

    Key recommendations to heed now

    Continue Reading Looking ahead to 2024: California privacy law action items for employers