• Kevin Cleveland and Hannah Moon

IMPORTANT UPDATES

Arbitration Agreements: Adjustments May Be Needed


Over the last several years, California has made many attempts to undermine the Federal Arbitration Act. In 2019, California passed AB 51, a law which prohibits employers from requiring employees to enter into arbitration agreements as a condition of employment, for which they could risk civil and criminal liability. Before AB 51 went into effect, a district court granted an injunction which prevented the law’s enforcement. On September 15, 2021, the Ninth Circuit in Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. v. Bonta invalidated portions of that injunction.


As of September 29, 2021, employers may not require employees to enter into arbitration agreements as a condition of employment. The good news is that agreements which have already been executed, whether they were mandatory for the employee to be hired or not, are still valid and enforceable. For all new agreements, however, making the agreement a condition of employment could expose employers to civil and criminal liability.


Please note that this decision may be appealed, so this may not be the final word on mandatory arbitration agreements. If you have any questions about this new decision and how it may affect your operations, please contact the experts at Young, Cohen & Durrett, LLP at (916) 569-1700.


COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Ends, As Do Tax Credits


The extra bank of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave California designated for employees expired on September 30, 2021, so it now only applies to leaves started prior to September 30, 2021. Likewise, the ability to receive tax credits from the federal government for COVID-19 sick leave also ended on September 30, 2021. However, there are still local ordinances in the following places which require employers to provide some form of COVID-19-related sick leave:


· Long Beach City

· Los Angeles City

· Los Angeles County

· Oakland

· San Mateo County (unincorporated areas)


If you have any employees performing work or are based in any of the above areas, please be sure to review your local ordinances to maintain compliance. If you have any questions about how to proceed with COVID-19-related sick leave requests, please contact the experts at Young, Cohen & Durrett, LLP at (916) 569-1700.


Public Health Orders


The California Department of Public Health has been releasing orders pertaining to certain industries requiring individuals in listed positions to be vaccinated. Orders have previously been released relating to health care workers and correctional facilities/detention centers. An order has also been released requiring certain vaccine verification and testing procedures for individuals working at public and private grade schools. The most recent of these orders was released on September 28, 2021, and it pertains to adult care facilities and direct care workers. That particular mandate only allows for individuals to be exempt from the vaccination requirements if they provide a signed declination form that states that they are declining vaccination due to religious beliefs or that they are excused for qualifying medical reasons (which they define in the order). Workers with such exemptions must be tested once a week and wear a surgical mask or higher-level respirator while at work.


Be sure to keep an eye on state and local public health orders as we continue managing the pandemic. If you have questions about whether your business is subject to a current public health order or are concerned about how to implement such a vaccine mandate, please contact the experts at Young, Cohen & Durrett, LLP at (916) 569-1700.


California Passes Law Making Intentional Wage Theft Even More Illegal


On September 17, 2021, Governor Newsom signed AB 1003 into law. AB 1003 makes intentional “wage theft” by employers a felony in the state of California by deeming it a form of grand theft. Ultimately, this means that, if an employer is deliberately or willfully engaging in practices such as not paying for all hours worked, not correctly paying overtime, not paying minimum wage, or pocketing tips, they may be subject to criminal liability. This applies to employers’ treatment of both employees and independent contractors. If you have any questions about this new law or would like us to audit your wage and hour practices to ensure compliance, please contact the experts at Young, Cohen & Durrett, LLP at (916) 569-1700.

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