2015 Legislative Update

Now, midway through the year, enacted legislation for 2015 should be fully implemented. Several new pieces of legislation related to issues of immigration, driver’s licenses, and workplace protection have been passed. Below are the areas involving state immigration laws and verification requirements that you, as a worker, and your employer must be aware of when entering the second half of the year.

Wage and Hour

As explored in previous La Cooperativa issues, several new laws will increase employers’ wage-and-hour obligations in 2015. Many of the new wage and hour laws expand on current employer penalties and liability for failure to meet work place obligations.

Waiting Time Penalties

The Labor Commissioner can cite an employer who pays less than the minimum wage. The citation can include a civil penalty, restitution, and liquidated damages. In addition, AB 1723 authorizes the Labor Commissioner to process any applicable penalties for an employer’s willful failure to timely pay wages to a resigned or discharged employee, which is commonly referred to as “waiting time” penalties. AB 1723 does not create new penalties, but rather permits the Labor Commissioner to apply new methods when enforcing existing penalties.

Furthermore, AB 2743 specifies a waiting time penalty if unionized theatrical and concert venue employers violate any agreed upon timeframe for payment of final wages contained in a collective bargaining agreement.

LABOR

Rest and Recovery Periods

SB 1360 confirms that heat recovery breaks are counted as hours worked and are further considered paid breaks. SB 1360 reiterates existing laws that pertain to heat related breaks, but seeks to clear up any former confusion employers had with regards to former legislation.

Protections for Complaints Under the Labor Code

AB 2751 outlines that an employer will be fined $10,000 for discriminating or retaliating against an employee who complains of Labor Code violations. The fine collected will be awarded to the employee/employees who “suffered the violation.”

IMMIGRATION

Nondiscrimination: Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Persons

A follow up to AB 60 driver’s license bill, AB 1660 makes it a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for an employer to discriminate against an individual because he/she holds or presents a driver’s license issued to undocumented persons who can submit satisfactory proof of identity and California residency. Such discriminatory actions will constitute national origin discrimination under FEHA.

AB 1660 clarifies that actions taken by an employer that are required to comply with federal I-9 verification requirements under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) do not violate California law.

AB 1660 also provides that it is a violation of FEHA for an employer to require a person to present a driver’s license, unless possessing a driver’s license is (1) required by law; or (2) required by the employer and law otherwise permits the employer’s requirement.

AB 1660 further requires any driver’s license information obtained by an employer to be treated as private and confidential.

Immigration-Related Protections

AB 2751 expands the definition of an unfair immigration-related practice to include threatening to file and/or filing a false report or complaint with any state or federal agency. Current law extended the protection only to reports filed with the police. AB 2751 also clarifies that an employer cannot discriminate against or retaliate against an employee who updates his/ her personal information “based on a lawful change of name, Social Security number, or federal employment authorization document.