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Last year was a devastating wildfire season in California – one of the worst ever on record.  And while things are relatively quiet (thus far) in 2019, that can change in an instant.

This past Sunday (September 30) represented the deadline for Governor Brown’s final actions on legislative measures, and his final term as California’s governor will come to an end in a few short months.

It’s difficult to glean much from a veto message. However, in vetoing a recent California bill meant to regulate certain aspects of the “innovation” economy, Governor Jerry Brown used some pointed language that some in the innovation or gig economy are viewing favorably as a signal of possible broader support by the Governor.

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. 

Perhaps it’s not surprising that a circuit that for years has held that staring can constitute sexual harassment would find that excessive hugging may be illegal, too.  The 9th Circuit (which covers California and other western states) in Zetwick v. County of Yolo, held that it is for a jury to decide whether a male county sheriff’s hugging of a female correctional officer amounted to unlawful harassment.

With the February 17 deadline to introduce bills in the California Legislature having come and gone, now is a good opportunity to take stock of what the coming year portends for labor and employment legislation in California. In short, the message for California employers is: “hang on – it’s going to be an interesting ride.” 

In September 2016, the California legislature amended the California Secure Choice Savings Trust Act of 2012 (“Secure Choice”).  This law will eventually require employers with at least five employees, and which do not offer employer-sponsored retirement benefits, to establish automatic payroll deductions for their employees to participate in the Secure Choice retirement savings plan.  Employers will only act as intermediaries and remit the payments to the state, which will administer the program.  The state has already established the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Investment Board to administer the program.

One of the many ballot propositions facing California voters on November 8 will be Proposition 64, known as the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act.”  If enacted it will legalize the private recreational use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older.  It will also make it lawful for each person to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use.  It will tax and regulate the growth and sale of marijuana as well.

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