Changes on horizon for 2019 employment laws |

Changes on horizon for 2019 employment laws

Hollie Grimaldi-Flores
Special to The Union

Attorneys At Law, David Cohen and John McCardle of Cohen Durrett, LLP, out of Sacramento, recently spoke before a full house of human resource professionals.

The pair talked about employment law legislation changes, case law and legal issues that could affect local businesses.

Cohen said 25-30 of the more than 1,000 pieces of legislation submitted in California courts last year “really matter.” Of those, a few clean up existing bills while others mean more regulations on, in his opinion, an already over-regulated system.

Among other points, Cohen urged employers to stay away from employee handbooks.

“Handbooks are a contract and will be held against you,” he said.

He went on to promote a “say nothing” approach to protecting employers from potential lawsuits.

Several of the new bills passed touched on human trafficking awareness and sexual harassment issues, including SB-1343 which requires companies with five or more employees to provide two hours harassment training to all supervisors and one hour of harassment training to non-supervisors by the beginning of next year. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing has been mandated to develop the online training courses, but a date has not been announced on its availability.

The audience also learned of AB-1976 which requires employers to provide a room other than a bathroom for lactation accommodations and SB-826, which requires every California corporation to have a minimum of one female on their board of directors.

Other bills discussed covered wage discrimination, required meal and rest breaks and health insurance for small employer groups.

Cohen also noted the federal mileage reimbursement rate is now .58 cents per mile driven for business use.

McCardle reviewed several key case law rulings by the US Supreme Court, including Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which prohibits public unions from collecting frees from nonconsenting employees. The California Supreme Court made several rulings ,including Alvarado v. Dart Container Corp. of California which set a new procedure for calculating overtime pay rates. And Dynamix Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of L.A. County adopted the” ABC Test” for determining when a worker is an independent contractor versus an employee.

Cohen made several comments reminding attendees that much of the legislation passed favors labor unions and, in his opinion, a good majority of bills passed were “useless” and “absurd.” That being said, he said it is up to the employer to be aware of the many changes in law and to take steps to adhere to those practices.

The workshop was sponsored by the Regional Chambers of Commerce, Business Career Network and the Sierra Human Resources Association. To learn more about employment laws and employer responsibilities, look at resources available at sierrahra.og.

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