This past year, a growing number of states and municipalities banished the Ghost of Christmas Past from haunting job applicants. As a result, employers in those jurisdictions must resolve now to bid auld lang syne to asking applicants about their salary and criminal histories. Employers should take a fresh look at their job applications, and hiring practices, policies and procedures and update them now to remain in compliance in the New Year.
Just six months after California modified its regulations concerning past criminal convictions for applicants, California has taken the additional step of modifying the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) to expressly prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history prior to a conditional offer of employment, and strictly limiting an employer’s use of an applicant’s criminal history following a conditional offer.
By Audrey Nguyen with Michael Arnold
California’s Fair Pay Act was already one of the broadest equal pay laws in the country. Governor Jerry Brown recently expanded it further by signing two laws that will go into effect on January 1, 2017. We summarize the expansion below.
By Audrey Nguyen and Michael Arnold
California’s governor has signed into law a bill aimed at discouraging discriminatory age hiring practices in the entertainment industry. The law focuses on internet websites identifying ages, but critics question whether the law is constitutional and if it will have any real impact.
The obligation to accommodate a disabled employee is an ongoing one; a doctor’s note may not be a prerequisite to engage in the interactive process – those are two important lessons that employers should take away from a recent decision by a California Federal district court.
Last month, a California state appellate court issued a decision that, as the dissent characterized, went “where no one has gone before.” In Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, Inc., the court held that California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) – California’s anti-discrimination law – requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation to a nondisabled employee who associates with a disabled person. This troubling and broad interpretation of the law, which effectively would import a caregiver accommodation requirement into the law, has certainly captured the attention of employers even outside this jurisdiction.
Beginning April 1, 2016, new California regulations (§11023 specifically) will require all California employers with more than five employees to have written policies regarding harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. For some employers, this may mean drafting a specific policy for the first time; for others, it may require some tinkering with an existing policy. Below we address the new regulations.
Few of us can honestly say that our job never disappoints us and the same can probably be said of personal relationships. But how do you know when you are in a failed employment relationship and what do you do about it?
Once again these questions lead to a discussion about extremes. A dysfunctional workplace (like a challenging relationship) is more likely to produce conflict than a compliant, well managed and properly administered one. But the focus here is not necessarily on conflict, but rather on illegal behavior.
So how out of bounds does an employer have to behave to make a bad employment relationship into an illegal one?
The California Fair Pay Act, which goes into effect on January 1, 2016, prohibits employers from paying employees less than the rate paid to members of the opposite sex who perform “substantially similar” work. Although current laws prohibit wage discrimination within the same establishment for the same work, the new law expands the geographic scope to include all of an employer’s locations (even outside of California) and expands the scope to include “substantially similar” work, not just “equal work.” An example, as offered by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, is a female housekeeper who cleans hotel rooms at one location may challenge the higher wages paid to male janitors who clean the lobby and banquet halls at another location. We summarize the law below.