Labor and Employment
2014 certainly seemed like the year of the minimum wage at both the state and local level not just in California, but nationally. The drumbeat for continued increases will continue into 2015 at the federal, state, and local level as proponents gear up for making the issue a central one to drive voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election cycle. Within the state legislature one bill has already been proposed, SB 3 (Leno), seeks to hike the wage to $13 per hour. This same proposal was stopped last year in the Assembly Labor and Employment committee by 2 key Democrats on the committee concerned about additional mandatory wage hikes so soon after the 25% increase approved by the legislature and Governor in 2013. The push for even higher minimum wages will also continue in local communities throughout California. As these local discussions occurred throughout 2014, the concept of recognizing an employee’s total taxable compensation (including gratuities) and establishing a teen or training wage became central and that will continue through 2015.
2015 will also be a year where labor unions and others continue to push “retail worker bill of rights” proposals, much like that which was enacted in San Francisco. The specific provisions of the San Francisco Ordinance are the following: 1) two weeks’ notice of employee schedule with penalties ranging from one to four hours of pay for each shift change made less than seven days or 24 hour notice before the employee’s shift; 2) mandated equivalent starting hourly rate for part-time and full-time employees; 3) requires employer to provide part-time employees with the same paid and/or unpaid time off offered to full-time employees; 4) mandatory offer of additional hours/shifts to part-time employees before hiring additional employees or contracted labor; 5) requires successor employer to retain all employees of the former employer for at least 90 days. While this legislation has not been introduced in the legislature, proponents have said publicly they will pursue this as a statewide proposal in 2015. The CRA advocacy team has already met with many legislators in advance of this bill being introduced to share with them objections with regard to the costs, complexities, and logistical challenges of such a proposal.
New legislative attempts (AB 67- Gonzalez) are being made in the legislature to require employers to pay at least two times the regular rate of pay to an employee for work on Thanksgiving and Christmas. This proposal will likely begin to move through the legislative process this spring.
With a growing number of states enacting legislation relating to allergy awareness in the food service sector by mandating additional training programs, the topic continues to be a hot one in California. Ideas have ranged from mandating expansion of existing training requirements to forcing restaurants to provide EpiPen auto-injectors for staff to administer to patrons in need. The CRA has been working on increasing awareness, sharing best practices, and cautioning on the seriousness of allergy issues in restaurants and will continue to do so as many of the potential legislative mandates are not workable at this time.
Restaurants up and down the state continue to be victims of harassing legal threats with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act even when no one has been harmed or access hindered. With increasing media attention on the abuses of this law and growing concern from the disability community, 2015 may be a year of reform to end the abuses that undermine the spirit of the law.
AB 52 (Gray) proposes that a defendant’s maximum liability for statutory damages in a construction-related accessibility claim against a place of public accommodation is $1,000 for each offense if the defendant has made the corrections to violations that are the basis of the claim.
An additional proposal, AB 54 (Olsen), proposes that when a plaintiff brings a claim alleging a violation of a construction-related accessibility standard within 3 years of a change in that standard the plaintiff would only be allowed to collect statutory damages if the plaintiff also provides the owner, agent, or other party responsible for the place in violation with a written notice or demand letter at least 60 days prior to filing any action and the violation is not cured.
February 27th is the deadline for the introduction of new legislative proposals in the legislature and it is common for nearly 2,000 pieces of legislation to be introduced each year, so a full understanding of how the policy table will be set for 2015 is still weeks away but the above-mentioned items are sure to be part of the deliberations this year in the state Capitol.