2022 Changes to California Employment Laws, Part 1

December 10, 2021

The start of a new year always brings about changes to California law. The following are the highlights of 2022 changes to California’s employment laws that you should be aware of:

SB 331: Settlement and Non-disparagement Agreements

Extends the ban on non-disparagement clauses in settlement agreements to acts of workplace harassment or discrimination not only based on sex, but any protected FEHA category.

SB 93: Employment – Rehiring and Retention – Displaced Workers – COVID-19 Pandemic

This law took effect in April 2021 and expires on December 31, 2024.

It requires employers in certain industries (hotels, private clubs, event centers, airport hospitality and service workers, commercial janitorial, building maintenance and security services) to make written job offers to employees whom they laid off because of COVID-19.

The DLSE will enforce the law and may order reinstatement, front and back pay, and benefits, as well as impose substantial penalties and liquidated damages.

AB 1003: Wage Theft – Grand Theft

Makes the intentional theft of wages, including gratuities, in an amount greater than $950 from any single employee, or $2,350 in the aggregate from two or more employees, by an employer in any consecutive 12-month period punishable as grand theft.

Specifically authorizes wages, gratuities, benefits, or other compensation that are the subject of a prosecution under these provisions to be recovered as restitution in accordance with existing provisions of law.

Independent contractors are included within the meaning of employee and hiring entities of independent contractors are included within the meaning of employer.

AB 1561: Worker Classification – Employees and Independent Contractors

This bill defines exemptions to the ABC test to determine if workers are employees or independent contractors for purposes of the Labor Code. These professions instead are subject to the multifactor test previously adopted in the case of S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341 when evaluating whether or not a person is an employee or an independent contractor.

 The bill defines exemptions for:

  • Licensed manicurists

  • Construction subcontractors

  • Data aggregators

  • Claims adjustors

  • Manufactured housing dealers

SB 657: Employment – Electronic Documents

Provides in any instance in which an employer is required to physically post information, an employer may also distribute that information to employees by email with the document or documents attached. This does not alter the employer’s obligation to physically display the required posting.

SB 572: Labor Commissioner – Enforcement – Lien on Real Property

Authorizes the Labor Commissioner to create a lien on real property to secure amounts due to the Commissioner under any final citation, findings, or decision, as provided.

AB 600: Hate Crimes – Immigration Status

Expands the definition of “nationality” to include immigration status.

AB 1033: California Family Rights Act – Parent-In-Law – Small Employer Family

Leave Mediation – Pilot Program

Expands CFRA to include care for a parent-in-law.

The bill also requires mediation through the DFEH for smaller employers, 5 to 19 employees, before filing suit alleging CFRA violations.

When an employee requests an immediate right to sue alleging a violation of the CFRA provisions by an employer, the DFEH must notify the employee in writing of the requirement for mediation prior to filing a civil action, if mediation is requested by the employer or employee. The employee is required to contact DFEH’s dispute resolution division prior to filing an action and to indicate whether they are requesting mediation.  The statute of limitations applicable to the employee’s claim is tolled from the date the employee contacts DFEH’s dispute resolution division regarding the intent to pursue a legal action until the mediation is complete or deemed unsuccessful.

An employer in a civil action that did not receive the required notification as a result of the employee’s failure to contact DFEH’s alternative dispute resolution prior to filing a civil action and who had 5 to 19 employees at the time that the alleged violation occurred, can stay any pending civil action or arbitration until the mediation is complete or deemed unsuccessful.

Should you have any questions regarding these new laws and how they impact you, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Freeburg & Granieri, APC today!

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