Important Changes To CA Employment Law For 2014

California labor laws are constantly in a state of flux, and a failure to keep track of the changes may land your business in legal trouble.  The following is a brief run down of some of the most significant developments for 2014.

Minimum Wage

Assembly Bill 10 raises the State’s minimum wage to $9 per hour starting July 1, 2014.  Note that this increase in the minimum wage impacts the minimum salary an employee must be paid in order to be overtime exempt ($720 per week instead of $640 per week).  Failure to provide a salary increase may compromise the employee’s exemption, thus creating liability for unpaid wages and overtime.

Damages For Minimum Wage Violations

Assembly Bill 442 exposes employers to liquidated damages, in addition to existing penalties, for citations issued by the Labor Commissioner for minimum wage violations.

Protection Against Retaliation for Wage Claims

Previously, Labor Code 98.6 only provided express protection from retaliation to employees who experienced discharge or discrimination as a result of asserting their rights under the Labor Code.  However, AB 263 amends the law to expressly prohibit retaliation or “adverse action” against a complaining employee.  The new law also protects employees who make written or oral complaints that they are owed unpaid wages.

Perhaps most importantly, the new law provides for penalties up to $10,000 per employee for instances of unlawful retaliation.

Time Off Work for Victims of Crimes

Crime victims now have a legal right to take time off work to appear in any court proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue.  The law applies only to certain crimes, such as vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and solicitation for murder.  There are also certain specific requirements for requesting such leave.

Expansion of Paid Family Leave

SB 770 is expanding the availability of Paid Family Leave to employees who need time off to care for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings or parent-in-laws.  Note that PFL is a wage replacement program and does not guarantee an employee’s position while they are out on leave, though other state and federal laws may.