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New California Laws In the Context of #MeToo

On January 1, 2019, several new laws that were enacted in the wake of the #MeToo Movement will take effect in California. Employers may be impacted most by the new laws that require sexual harassment training of all employees – not just managers – and affect the confidentiality of settlements regarding sexual assault, sexual harassment, sex discrimination or retaliation. Please see our Duane Morris client alert for more details on these new laws, as well as other laws that will pose significant new challenges for employers.

Summer Updates In California Employment Laws

Summertime in San Francisco and other California cities brings legal updates that are taking effect on July 1, 2018. Employers in the restaurant and bar industries should ensure they are complying with the San Francisco Parity in Pay Ordinance (if applicable) and minimum wage increases.  For example, employers affected by the minimum wage increases should ensure that their notices are up to date and confirm with their payroll provider that the increases took effect on July 1. More details about these developments are available here.

New Year’s Resolution for Restaurateurs and Bar Owners

As 2017 comes to an end, sexual harassment allegations against celebrity chefs and restauranteurs continue to surface. In the bar and restaurant industry, where alcohol flows like water and employees toil away in close proximity under intense pressure, supervisor and employee misconduct is not entirely surprising.

The news media is covering the consequences of alleged misconduct by celebrity and local chefs, restauranteurs, and TV personalities. They range from Top Chef: Colorado’s decision to edit out New Orleans chef John Besh from an episode of the show, to two major retailers’ pulling of Mario Batali-branded products from their shelves, to a Bay Area bar owner reportedly fleeing the country to avoid charges, as reported by Eater magazine. But, what still needs to be addressed is how to attack the root of the problem. Continue reading New Year’s Resolution for Restaurateurs and Bar Owners

Will Restaurants and Other Employers Implement the New Overtime Rule on Dec. 1?

Employers nationwide, including those in the food and beverage industries, have been gearing up to implement the U.S. Department of Labor’s new overtime rule that was scheduled to take effect on December 1.  But, shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday, a Texas federal judge decided to block it, potentially affecting more than 4 million workers.

The Final Rule would have more than doubled the minimum standard salary level for overtime-exempt “white collar” employees—individuals employed in an executive, administrative, or professional (including the salaried computer exemption) capacity—to $47,476 annually (or $913 weekly). In other words, workers paid less than $47,476 would have been entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), unless they fell within another exemption.

Many employers had already announced this wage-and-hour change. However, in State of Nevada v. United States Department of Labor, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Final Rule. Thus, companies have been left scrambling, trying to decide whether Continue reading Will Restaurants and Other Employers Implement the New Overtime Rule on Dec. 1?

Is Your Restaurant or Bar Compliant with California’s Voting Laws?

Since the 2016 election is less than one week away, all employers in California, including restaurants and bars, should have already posted the required notice informing employees of their right to time off to vote, either in the workplace or where it can be seen by employees as they enter or exit the workplace.  (Cal. Elec. Code § 14001.)

In California, employees are entitled to two hours of paid time off to vote if they don’t haveimg_0581 sufficient time outside of working hours to vote. (Cal. Elec. Code § 14000.) The polls in California are open from 7 AM to 8 PM. Paid time off should be at the beginning or end of the employee’s shift, whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from the regular working shift, unless the employer and employee agree to another arrangement.  A maximum of two hours is paid, though employees may take additional unpaid time off if it’s needed to vote. Employees must provide notice two working days prior to the election if, on the third working day before the election, they know or have reason to know they will need leave.  (Cal. Elec. Code § 14000(c).) Continue reading Is Your Restaurant or Bar Compliant with California’s Voting Laws?

It’s Time to Update Your Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy: Big Changes to FEHA Regulations Take Effect April 1

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Beginning on April 1, 2016, new regulatory amendments will apply to California restaurants, bars, and other employers of five or more full or part-time employees, since such employers are subject to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA,” Cal. Govt. Code § 12900, et seq.). The FEHA prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of various protected characteristics, including gender, race, age, religion, and disability. For employees with disabilities, the FEHA requires employers to engage in the interactive process to determine a reasonable accommodation and to accommodate the employee. It also prohibits retaliation against employees who engage in activities that are legally protected.

If you don’t have a written policy against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, now is the time to work with a lawyer on one. Notably, one of the many changes is that the amended FEHA regulations require every California employer to develop a harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention policy that: Continue reading It’s Time to Update Your Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy: Big Changes to FEHA Regulations Take Effect April 1

Firing Staff Who Call the Boss an “A*#hole” or “Like” Such Criticism on Facebook

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Image credit: Facebook

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently decided that a sports bar in Connecticut violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it terminated two workers for commenting on and “liking” a Facebook post. Specifically, an employee posted a derogatory “status update” noting that the owners of the bar “can’t even do tax paperwork correctly,” since employees owed more in state income taxes than they expected due to a tax withholding error. The post initiated a series of comments which the boss was called an “asshole.” The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found, and the Second Circuit affirmed, that terminating the employees due to their Facebook activity was unlawful. (Three D LLC v. NLRB (2d. Cir. 10/21/15) Case #14-3284, appealed from 2014 NLRB LEXIS 656 (8/22/2014).) Continue reading Firing Staff Who Call the Boss an “A*#hole” or “Like” Such Criticism on Facebook

Upcoming Legal Compliance Deadlines for Bay Area Restaurant Owners and Other Employers

• April 30, 2015 is the deadline for employers covered by the Health Care Security Ordinance (HCSO) and the Fair Chance Ordinance to submit their 2014 Employer Annual Reporting Forms. If you are a restaurant owner or employer with 20 or more employees, you may likely be covered by the HCSO. If you cannot meet the April 30 deadline, a penalty of $500 per quarter will be assessed until the form is submitted. Please carefully review the instructions before submitting the form.
• May 1, 2015 is the effective date for San Francisco’s minimum wage to rise to $12.25 per hour. The Minimum Wage Ordinance requires all employers to post a notice informing employees of their rights. The notice must be posted at each workplace in San Francisco in a location where employees can read it easily.
• July 1, 2015 is the effective date when key provisions of the new paid sick leave law, the California Healthy Workplace Family Act of 2014, take effect. There are a number of new requirements for employers under this law, so please be sure to review the application of the new law with an employment law attorney. Employers must provide at least 24 hours or 3 days of paid sick leave for each eligible employee per year, display a poster on paid sick leave where employees can read it easily, provide written notice to employees with sick leave rights at the time of hire, keep records showing how many hours have been earned and used for 3 years, and comply with additional requirements.