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

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

    It is an unprecedented time for California companies’ privacy law obligations. The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) took effect on January 1, 2023 with a twelve-month look-back that also applies to the personal data of employees and business contacts. The California Privacy Protection Agency recently finalized regulations and has kicked off a new phase of rulemaking including on

    In 2023, we helped US employers overcome a host of new challenges across the employment law landscape. Many companies started the year with difficult cost-cutting decisions and hybrid work challenges. More recently, employers faced challenges around intense political discourse boiling over in the workplace. We’ve worked hard to keep our clients ahead of the curve on these

    Effective September 17, employers with four or more employees in New York state must include a compensation range in all advertisements for new jobs, promotions and transfer opportunities. A pay transparency fact sheet and FAQ document are available on the NYSDOL website with additional information and guidance on the new law. 

    Overlap and City

    Since July 1, 2023, the California Privacy Protection Agency has the power to bring administrative enforcement actions under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) (see our post on California Privacy Law Action Items for Employers).

    While a June 30, 2023 ruling by the Sacramento County Superior Court stays enforcement of the March 29, 2023

    Special thanks to co-authors Cynthia Cole, Heiko Burow, Inez Asante and Alysha Preston.

    In June, New York Senate Bill S5640 unanimously passed both houses of the NY legislature. It seeks to enact restrictions on invention assignment agreements used in the employment. S5640 now moves to the desk of Governor Kathy Hochul and if signed into law, it will amend the New York Labor Law effective immediately.Continue Reading Creating IP in New York? Watch out! Your employee may soon own more than you think

    The Road Ahead Following the April 10 End of the National Emergency

    We have all grown accustomed to hand sanitizer, 6-feet distance markings in hallways, face masks–and the back and forth of surging and waning COVID-19 levels in the workplace and the community. But with President Biden’s April 10 termination of the COVID-19 national emergency, can these pandemic mainstays–and employers’ pandemic policies and procedures–finally be relegated to a distant memory? Should they be? As Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a recent interview, “Everybody wants this outbreak behind us.”

    Mapping the Road Forward

    With little fanfare, on April 10, President Biden quietly signed a GOP-led resolution terminating the COVID-19 national emergency. Separately, on May 1 the Biden Administration announced an end to the federal COVID-19 vaccination requirements for federal employees, federal contractors, and international travelers on May 11, the same day the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ends. The US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Homeland Security also announced they will start the process to end vaccination requirements for Head Start educators, CMS-certified healthcare facilities, and certain noncitizens at the land border.

    So can employers throw out all of their COVID-19 policies and procedures? Not quite.Continue Reading Can US Employers Finally Leave COVID-19 in the Rearview Mirror?