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Hunt Ortmann Palffy Nieves Darling & Mah, INC.

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Hunt Ortmann is one of the foremost authorities on California construction law, contracts, dispute resolution and litigation offering additional legal services in the areas of business and commercial law, employment matters and labor law compliance, real estate, insurance and suretyship.

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2017 Employment Law Round-Up -What Employers Need to Know Going Forward

By JoLynn M. Pollard

This past year brought many changes in California statutory law concerning many issues important to employers. Employment law is an ever-changing discipline, and California is often at the forefront of changes in the law, and additional requirements placed upon employers. While we summarize important developments below, there is no substitute for an annual review of employee handbooks, policies and procedures to ensure that employers are in compliance and engaging in best practices to avoid claims, and litigation. Hunt Ortmann’s Employment Group is well positioned to help you navigate the myriad of changes in the coming year. For more information or to speak with one of our employment attorneys, contact us at employment@huntortmann.com.

Direct Contractors – Fringe/Benefit Payments: As of January 1, 2018, “direct contractors” (the prime contractor or contractor with a direct contractual relationship with an owner) will soon be liable for the unpaid wages and other fringe or benefit payments that its subcontractors or lower-tier subcontractors fail to pay to their employees on private works projects. Labor Code section 218.7 permits these unpaid amounts to be recovered by the worker, the Labor Commissioner, a joint Labor-Management Cooperation Committee, or a third party owed fringe or other benefits.

Sexual Harassment Training – New Requirements: This coming year, California now requires employers to provide sexual harassment training that includes attention to gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. As of January 1, 2018, employers will be required to post the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s (“DFEH”) poster on transgender rights in a prominent and accessible location in the workplace. Harassment prevention training is mandatory for employers with over 50 employees. Employers should ensure they are in compliance with this mandatory training, and Hunt Ortmann has an interactive program to satisfy this requirement for all employers within a one-time, two hour program.

Applicants’ Prior Salary and Criminal History Inquiries: Labor Code section 432.3, effective January 1, 2018, prevents employers from asking applicants about prior salary. Conversely, applicants can ask for pay scales from a prospective employer. Employers will also be precluded from asking about or considering an applicant’s criminal conviction history before tendering a conditional job offer. If, after that point, the employer decides to withdraw the offer because of the applicant’s conviction history, the law specifies the assessment the employer must make and communication of this to the applicant. Certain jobs are specifically exempt from the law’s requirements. Questions concerning prior salary and criminal convictions should be removed from an employer’s application.

Labor Commissioner – Discrimination/Retaliation Claims: The Labor Commissioner now has the power to investigate discrimination and retaliation claims, and order relief, without first receiving a complaint. The Labor Commissioner may seek immediate temporary injunctive relief, issue citations, and recover its attorney fees and costs in connection with those investigations, as well as investigations prompted by a complaint.

Parental Leave: The new Parental Leave Act, which applies to employers with between 20 and 49 employees, allows employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to bond with a new child if they’ve worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking the leave. Employers must maintain health coverage for the new parent during this leave. The new law prohibits discrimination and retaliation against an employee for taking parental leave.

Federal Immigration Issues: As of January 1, 2018, employers may not voluntarily allow federal immigration authorities into nonpublic areas of the workplace for the purpose of reviewing or obtaining employment records without a subpoena, judicial warrant, or court order. Employers are limited in re-verifying the employment eligibility of a current employee, and must notify employees when its I-9 forms will be inspected. Penalties for failure to comply range from $2,000 to $10,000 per violation.

Hunt Ortmann – Employment Law: Hunt Ortmann’s Employment Law Group has a wealth of experience in handling handbook, policy and procedure audits, and annual updates to comply with new changes in the law. We routinely counsel employers with regard to policy issues, as well as complaints and pre-litigation claims mitigation. Our experienced litigators can efficiently and successfully defend employers in discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims, as well as wage and hour issues and other administrative disputes.

JoLynn M. Pollard is a Shareholder at Hunt Ortmann who, for 30 years, specializes in the fields of business and insurance counseling and litigation, as well as employment. Ms. Pollard leads the Firm’s growing Employment Law Group, and also spearheads Hunt Ortmann’s burgeoning Insurance Group. For more information, please visit our website here or contact us directly at employment@huntortmann.com.

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