California employers, especially those in small businesses, woke up on January 1, 2018, to a variety of new laws and restrictions designed to improve employee rights. Although the responsibility of managers and employers is significantly higher, the laws are considered vital to employee safety and satisfaction.
“The landscape has changed. Employers will have to be very, very careful and much more sensitive,” according to a California lawyer with experience in labor and employment laws.
The new laws include an expansion of family leave for employees of small businesses, giving up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to any employee of a business with 20 or more employees. Employers may now be sued if they do not comply.
The state minimum wage has also been raised to $10.50 per hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees and $11 per hour for all larger workplaces. Specific industries, such as cosmetology and farm labor, saw increased financial and sexual harassment protections that were not previously guaranteed by law.
Sexual harassment suits have risen in number in 2017, and some experts project the trend will continue. Sexual harassment prevention training is now required for all small businesses with at least 20 employees, with two hours necessary every two years for managers.
Any employee or former employee who suspects sexual harassment, disability discrimination or other unfair workplace practices has the right to sue for financial damages or reinstatement. Legal representation is often recommended to help build a case that demonstrates a pattern of inappropriate behavior. The right help can make it easier to take your case through the courts.
Source: North Bay Business Journal, “New laws beginning Jan. 1 impact California employers,” Cynthia Sweeney, accessed Jan. 22, 2018