Employers nationwide breathed a collective sigh of relief when a federal district court judge in Texas enjoined the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL’s) implementation of new minimum salary threshold requirements for the executive, administrative and professional overtime exemptions under federal law. However, that respite may be short-lived for employers here in California. Legislation just introduced in the California Legislature would raise the salary thresholds for these overtime exemptions under California law to the same levels that were proposed by the Obama administration.
Since the election of President Trump, the California Legislature has been vocal and active in efforts to resist announced or anticipated actions of the Trump administration. This includes efforts to make California a “sanctuary state,” measures to protect California’s environmental standards, legislative resolutions and statements against the travel ban and other Trump proposals, and actions to provide services and support to immigrants in California.
Over the last several years, the level of employer complaints about PAGA has reached a deafening crescendo. For some time now, employers have expressed deep concern about abusive litigation tactics and “extortionate” PAGA claims over very minor violations. Unfortunately, these concerns have largely fallen on deaf ears in Sacramento, with only incremental changes to the law.
For the past 12 years, California has maintained a Cal/OSHA standard designed to minimize heat illness in outdoor places of employment. However, legislation enacted last year (SB 1167) now requires Cal/OSHA to develop a heat illness standard applicable to indoor places of employment.
Last month a California appellate court held that an employer violates California law by paying inside sales employees on a draw against commission. In Vaquero v. Stoneledge Furniture LLC, the court held that such a pay arrangement does not compensate employees for their mandatory paid rest breaks.
The month of February and its immediate aftermath is always an exciting time for California legislation. That’s the month when legislators submit all of the new bills that will be sought for passage in the state legislature, and gives a clear window into what could be coming down the turnpike in new laws in the years to come. Some bills are proposed time and time again, only to be lost in committee or vetoed, but still showing up again the following year. Others disappear entirely. Some pass or fail, and cause shockwaves in the legislative landscape.
A trio of bills introduced recently in the California Legislature seek to involve the lodging industry in efforts to combat human trafficking.