STIMULUS PACKAGE

For a limited period of time, we are offering our own stimulus package to help individuals and small businesses receive legal advice in these tough economic times at a reduced legal rate.

For homeowners in a community interest development (planned development or condo) who are having probelms with their homeowners association in areas such as assessments, architectual issues, policies of the board of directorss, email us at phooper@qhlawyers.com about your issues and we will let you know if we can assist you on a limited basis at a special legal rate.

 For small businesses who need assistance in preparing their complaint and/or presenting their evidence in small claims court, we are available to assist you on a limited basis at a special legal rate.  Business owners should email us at phooper@qhlawyers.com for more information.

EMPLOYMENT LAW 

Effective January 1, 2008 Employers Cannot Use Full Social Security Numbers on Employee's Paychecks

Labor Code Section 226(a) requires employers to print no more than the last four digits of an employee�s social security number on employee paychecks or itemized statements. Employers must comply by January 1, 2008.  

 

Failure to comply with this requirement may subject an employer to damages, penalties and attorney's fees.  For example, an employee suffering injury as a result of a knowing and intentional failure by an employer to comply with Labor Code Section 226(a) is entitled to recover the greater of all actual damages or $50 for the initial pay period in which a violation occurs and $100 per employee for each violation in a subsequent pay period, not exceeding an aggregate penalty of $4,000, and is entitled to an award of costs and reasonable attorney�s fees. 

 

 

Pay Stub Requirements for overtime effective January 2007

AB 2095 amends an inconsistency regarding how employers must account for overtime hours on employee pay stubs.  The new law allows employers to record overtime hours worked in the current period on their employees� itemized pay stubs for the next payroll period. The overtime hours must be itemized on the pay stubs as �corrections� and include the dates of the pay period for which the correction is being made in the next payroll period.  (Previously Labor Code Section 204 required that overtime be paid no later than the payday for the next payroll period.)

Mandatory Harrassment Training of Supervisors Clarifications effective January 2007 

California AB 1825 (added to Government Code Section 12950.1) mandates employers who employ 50 or more employees or contractors to provide two hours of sexual harassment training and education once every two years within one of January 1, 2005.  Employers are required to provide sexual harassment training and education to supervisors every two years after January 1, 2006.  New supervisors must be trained within six months of assuming their supervisory position.

California's Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC) has issued regulations on AB 1825 to provide further clarification in complying with this new law.  On October 2, 2006, FEHC released further revised regulations to AB 1825 which most likely will be adopted at its November 14, 2006 hearing.

 One of the areas revised by FEHC is what constitutes a "training year".  An employer may designate a training year in which it trains some or all of its supervisory employees and after that must again re-train these supervisors by the end of the next training year two years later.  For newly hired or promoted supervisors who receive training within six months of assuming their supervisory positions which is in a different training year designated by employer, these supervisors may be included in the next group training year even if that occurs sooner than two years.  An employer shall not extend the training year for the new supervisors beyond the initial two year training year.

 AB 2095 clarifies the existing law that went into effect last year, mandating supervisory harassment training for employers with 50 or more employees (not all of whom need to be in California). The new law provides that only supervisors located in California are subject to the training requirement. The Fair Employment and Housing Commission may issue final regulations on harassment training requirements, which should be effective February 2007 if approved by the Office of Administrative Law. Among other provisions, the final regulations allow employers to track compliance by designating a �training year� in which supervisors are trained and then retrained two years later. The final regulations also allow for on-line and so-called �webinar� training, as long as they meet certain requirements for access to a qualified �subject matter� expert on harassment prevention. 

 

EMPLOYERS FACE STIFF PENALTIES FOR ASSISTING ANY EMPLOYEE OR CONTRACTOR TO AVOID CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS

Effective in 2007 AB 2440 creates liability for any employer who assists any employee or contractor in avoiding the payment of child support obligations. The law imposes a penalty on any person or business entity that knowingly assists an employee or contractor escape, evade or avoid paying court-ordered or court-approved child support that is due. The penalty equals three times the fair market value of the assets transferred or wages paid to the employee or contractor, up to the entire amount of the child support obligation due. The following actions are prohibited by the law if the individual or business entity knew or should have known of the child support obligation of the employee or contractor:

 

  • Hiring or employing the person owing child support as an employee and failing to file a report of new employees with the California New Employee Registry maintained by the Employment Development Department (�EDD�);
  • Engaging the person owing child support as a service provider and failing to file a timely report with the EDD;
  • Paying wages or other forms of compensation for services rendered that are not reported to the EDD; or
  • This new law creates an added incentive for employers to ensure that all new employees, and all wages or other forms of compensation (including trades and barters), are reported in a timely manner to the EDD.

 

EMPLOYERS HIRING EMPLOYEES FOR SPECIFIC ASSIGNMENT OR FIXED PERIOD WILL BE REQUIRED TO PAY WAGES IMMEDIATELY ON DISCHARGE

On July 10, 2006, the California Supreme Court issued its unanimous decision in Smith v. Superior Court (L'Oreal USA, Inc.) defining what constitutes a �discharge�, triggering the requirement for employers to pay final wages immediately. The California Supreme Court held that a discharge includes  employment relationships that end because of the completion of a specific assignment or period of time for which the employee was hired as well as a firing or layoff.

The ruling in Smith means an employer must pay final wages immediately and in full whenever an employee is released after completing either a specific assignment or the specific time duration for which the employee was hired. 

This case has significant implications for employers who hire employees to work intermittently on short assignments.  It means that employers must take steps to ensure that they immediately pay final wages to an employee hired for a specific assignment or fixed period of employment. 

This may very well impact those employers who hire seasonal employees for a fixed period of time such as summer or holiday seasons.  Employment agencies may have to look at their hiring policies for workers who are hired out for a specific assignment or for a specific period of time.

Failure to pay final wages immediately and in full can expose an employer to waiting time penalties under California Labor Code section 203.

 

Minimum Wage Increases Effective January 1, 2007

California Assembly Bill 1835 adds two new Labor Code Sections-- 1182.12 and 1182.13  increasing the minimum wage to $7.50 per hour, effective on and after January 1, 2007, and to $8.00 per hour, effective on and after January 1, 2008.   It also requires the Department of Industrial Relations to adjust upwards the permissible meals and lodging credits by the same percentage as the increases in the minimum wage and to amend and republish the Industrial Welfare Commission's wage orders to be consistent with this bill. It further requires every employer that is subject to an amended republished order required under the bill to post in a specified manner a copy of the order. 

 

Workplace Violence

AB 2695 allows employers to seek orders that protect multiple worksites and orders that protect multiple employees. California Code of Civil Procedure section 527.8 allows employers to seek a temporary restraining order on behalf of an employee who is threatened with violence in the workplace. AB 2695 extends the scope of an employer�s rights in seeking injunctive relief against an individual threatening violence by permitting employers the additional right of obtaining a temporary restraining order on behalf of employees other than the one directly threatened. This new law effective in 2007 addresses situations where the employee who is directly threatened does not wish to pursue a restraining order, but the employer feels there is a credible threat of violence against the other employees in the workplace.

 

HOMELAND SECURITY

New Passport Requirement

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) passed by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of State will require all travelers (including children) travelling to and from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda to present a passport or other accepted document that establishes the bearer�s identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the United States.

U.S. citizens returning directly from a U.S. territory are not considered to have left the U.S. territory and do not need to present a passport. U.S. territories include the following: Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.  

Important Dates:

Beginning January 8, 2007 � Passports, Merchant Mariner Documents (MMDs) or NEXUS Air cards would be required for all air travel from within the Western Hemisphere for citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda.

January 1, 2008 � It is anticipated that on January 1, 2008, U.S. citizens traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid U.S. passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.

REAL ESTATE AND HOUSING

Anti-discrimination Provisions in Statutes Changed to Conform to California's Fair Employment and Housing Act

 

Effective January 1, 2007, AB 2880  modifies various California statutes relating to non-discrimination in housing to conform with the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Provisions of existing law including California Business & Professions � 10177 which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion or the marital status of a person are expanded to include national origin, ancestry, familial status, disability or sexual orientation.

 

Currently, various provisions of state law prohibit discrimination in housing, including real estate licensure, mortgage lending, club membership, development projects, and community redevelopment. Under current law, these provisions prohibit discrimination only on the basis of  (1) race; (2) color; (3) gender; (4) religion; or (5) marital status.

 

Under the new law, (1) national origin; (2) ancestry; (3) familial status; (4) disability; and (5) sexual orientation will be added so that these provisions comply with the Fair Employment and Housing Act:

 

This law amends California Business & Professions Code �� 10177 and 23428.20;  California Civil Code �� 782, 782.5, 798.20 and 800.25; California Government Code � 65008; and California Health & Safety Code �� 33050, 33435, 33436, 33724, 33769, 35811, 37630, 37923, 50955 and 51602.

 

LANDLORD MUST GIVE 60 DAYS NOTICE TO TERMINATE RESIDENTIAL LEASES

Currently, the law requires thirty (30) days notice for the landlord or the tenant to terminate a month-to-month tenancy. Under the new law, AB 1169, the landlord will be required to provide sixty (60) days notice to terminate any periodic residential leases, such as a month-to-month rental, if all tenants and residents have been in the property for at least one year.

In cases where any tenant or resident has been residing in the property for less than one year, then thirty (30) days notice is sufficient.

 

Thirty (30) days notice can be given when all of the following conditions have been met: (1) the dwelling is a separately alienable unit (e.g. condo, single family residence, townhouse; but not a duplex, triplex or other multi-unit property); (2) the owner of the unit contracted to sell the unit to a bonafide purchaser for value; (3) escrow has been established with a licensed escrow agent or licensed real estate broker; (4) the buyer is a natural person (or persons); (5) notice is given within 120 days after escrow is opened; (6) notice was not previously given to the tenant; and (7) the buyer intends to live in the property for at least one full year.

 

This new law becomes effective on January 1, 2007, as California Civil Code Section 1946.1, and will sunset on January 1, 2010 unless extended by the California Legislature.

 

 

For more information on this new law, you may contact phooper@qhlawyers.com