California Developments

What are newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom’s views on #MeToo legislation, and how do they compare to those of his predecessor, Jerry Brown?  We may soon have answers to these questions thanks to a pair of bills introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), which reintroduce harassment-related proposals vetoed by Governor Brown.
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California’s legislature and courts have acted to curb an employer’s ability to recover its fees and costs when it prevails in a lawsuit brought under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, even if the plaintiff employee rejected the employer’s Code of Civil Procedure Section 998 offer to compromise.
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In Hernandez v. Pacific Bell Co., a California court held that employees who drive between their homes and a client worksite (in this case, a customer’s residence) using a company vehicle under the company’s voluntary vehicle take-home program need not be compensated for the commute time. 
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In the recent election, Californians voted to add an employer-friendly provision to the Labor Code that allows emergency ambulance workers to be on-call during breaks.  California is one of 24 states that allow voters to initiate laws through the petition process.
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In the wake of the #MeToo movement, many state legislatures have begun to take action to provide greater protections for victims of sexual harassment and make it easier for them to make complaints in the workplace.  For example, in California, AB 2770 amends Civil Code Section 47 to protect alleged victims of sexual harassment by a co-worker in making complaints to the employer without the fear of being found liable for defaming the alleged harasser. 
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According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, California has had the highest number of reported cases of human trafficking in the country over the last six years, followed by Texas and Florida.  Recent studies indicate that hotels and motels are common locations for sex trafficking. In light of these startling statistics, now is a good time for employers to become informed about new legislation associated with human trafficking crimes and to implement or update their anti-human trafficking policies and practices.
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