For what it’s worth, on October 25, 2021, the EEOC updated its guidance “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws” and added Section L entitled “Vaccinations – Title VII and Religious Objections to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates.” While employers have been waiting for some guidance from the EEOC on this issue given the onslaught of requests for religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the guidance doesn’t really provide any new guidance addressing the unprecedented pandemic we are all living through. Instead, the EEOC essentially repeats much of its prior guidance on how to generally address requests for religious accommodations in the workplace. Continue Reading EEOC Issues Guidance Regarding Religious Accommodations in Connection with Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policies
What is PAGA?
California’s labor law enforcement agencies, including the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (“LWDA”) also known as the “Labor Board” has the authority to investigate whether employers violate the California Labor Code, and assess and collect civil penalties for any such violations. However, due to purported budget cuts and cited lack of state resources to prosecute such actions, in 2004, the Legislature enacted the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA), Lab. Code, § 2698 et seq., to authorize an employee to bring an action for civil penalties on behalf of the state against his or her employer for Labor Code violations committed against the employee and fellow employees, with 75% of the proceeds of that litigation going to the state, and 25% to the employees. A PAGA plaintiff therefore steps into the shoes of an attorney general to prosecute alleged Labor Code violations for civil penalties, on behalf of the state. PAGA penalties can be astronomical. Pursuant to PAGA, default civil penalties are $100 “for each aggrieved employee per pay period for the initial violation,” and $200 per aggrieved employer, per pay period, per “each subsequent violation.” Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Holds That Trial Courts Have Authority to Strike PAGA Claims For Being Unmanageable
In 2018, in response to the #MeToo movement, California enacted Senate Bill 820 which added section 1001 to the California Code of Civil Procedure and prohibited employers from including provisions into settlement agreements that prevent the disclosure of factual information relating to claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, failure to prevent harassment, harassment in a professional relationship, discrimination based on sex, or retaliation that had been made in connection with a civil lawsuit or administrative action. Senate Bill 820 took effect on January 1, 2019. Notably, it applied only to claims based on sex and not other forms of harassment or discrimination nor did it apply to settlement or severance agreements signed before an employee filed a lawsuit. Continue Reading Employers Beware – Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement Provisions Face Further Restrictions
Cal/OSHA has quietly made several updates to the FAQs for its COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). The additions shed additional light on, and in some regards revise previous guidance, relating to Isolation and Quarantine, Vaccines, and Exclusion Pay. Continue Reading California’s ETS Updates Since Biden’s Vaccine Mandate Announcement
On September 27, 2021, Governor Newsom signed SB 606, which creates two new categories of Cal/OSHA violations: “enterprise-wide” violations and “egregious” violations. The new law expands Cal/OSHA’s citation authority and could have the effect of greatly increasing the fines employers (especially those large employers with multiple worksites) might be subject to. The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2022. Continue Reading Legislative Update: Cal/OSHA’s Citation Authority Expanded