Pending Labor and Employment Bills-Keep Your Fingers Crossed!

September 30 is the last day for Governor Schwarzenegger to sign or veto bills passed by the legislature this session.  The following are labor and employment related bills currently before the Governor:

AB 482 (Mendoza):  If signed by the Governor, this legislation will prohibit employers (with the exception of certain financial institutions) from using credit reports for employment purposes, unless (1) the applicant/employee would have access to money or other assets, and (2) the applicant/employee would be employed in either a managerial position, a position in the state Department of Justice, a sworn peace officer or law enforcement position, or a position for which credit information is required to be obtained by the employer.

AB 2187 (Arambula):  If signed by the Governor, this legislation would add a provision to the Labor Code criminalizing an employer’s willful failure to pay all wages due to an employee who has been discharged or who quit, within 90 days of the wages becoming due.  Wage disputes before the Labor Commissioner and/or in a civil action are exempted.  The legislation provides for jail time and/or fines up to $10,000.

AB 1881 (Monning):  If signed by the Governor, this legislation will increase the liquidated damages that an employee can recover in an action for nonpayment of minimum wage.  Whereas current law provides that an employee may recover liquidated damages equal to the amount unpaid plus interest, new law would provide for liquidated damages equal to twice the amount unpaid plus interest.

AB 2340 (Monning):  If signed by the Governor, this legislation will require employers to allow employees to take up to three days of unpaid bereavement leave upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild or domestic partner.  Although the leave is unpaid, the employee is entitled to use any accrued paid time off he or she has available.

AB 1680 (Saldana):  If signed by the Governor, this legislation will make pre-dispute arbitration agreements unenforceable as to disputes that involve violence or intimidation by threats of violence against a person because of that person’s political affiliation, position in a labor dispute, sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability or medical condition (actions under the Ralph Civil Rights Act and/or Bane Civil Rights Act).

SB 1474 (Steinberg):  If signed by the Governor, this legislation is expected to increase union representation of agricultural employees by providing the Agricultural Labor Relations Board the ability to set aside an election if it finds misconduct by the employer, and to certify a labor organization as the exclusive bargaining representative if the union previously presented the Board with authorization cards signed by more than 50% of employees.

SB 1304 (DeSaulnier):  If signed by the Governor, this legislation will require private employers with 15 or more employees to provide up to 30 days paid leave for organ donation, and up to 5 days paid leave for bone marrow donation.  Such leave would not run concurrently with any leave taken under the FMLA/CFRA.

AB 2284 (Evans):  This is not a labor and employment bill per se, but it provides for a new means of trying civil cases in California, including employment cases.  If signed by the Governor, this legislation will allow parties to a civil action (post-dispute) to agree to an expedited jury trial, including a jury of 8 or fewer members, a limit of 3 peremptory challenges per side, and a limit of 3 hours for each side to present its case.  The verdict is binding, subject to any high/low agreement entered into by the parties.  The parties would also waive rights to appeal and to file motions for direct verdict or similar post-trial motions.

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