Key California Laws for 2017

DLSE Enforcement Authority

The Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) will have broad independent authority under

Labor Code Section 98.7 to bring an action against an employer who terminates or discriminates against

an employee in violation of any law under the Labor Commissioner’s jurisdiction. The DLSE can bring an

action with or without an employee complaint.

Smoking in the Workplace

Although California already prohibits smoking of tobacco products inside an enclosed place of

employment, this new bill expands the prohibition on smoking of tobacco products to all enclosed

places of employment to all employers of any size. This law extends to owner-operated businesses, ecigarettes,

and vaporizers.

Single-User Restrooms

Beginning on March 1, 2017, all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment must be

identified as “All Gender” toilet facilities.

Criminal History in Applications for Employment

Beginning January 1, 2017, employers are prohibited from asking applicants to disclose, or from utilizing

as a factor in determining any condition of employment, information concerning or related to “an arrest,

detention, process, diversion, supervision, adjudication, or court disposition that occurred while the

person was subject to the process and jurisdiction of juvenile court law.”

Employment Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking

Effective July 1, 2017, employers with 25 or more employees must provide specific information in

writing to new employees upon hire and to other employees upon request of their rights to take leave

under Labor Code Section 230.1. This bill requires that the Labor Commissioner develops a form that

employers may elect to use to comply with these provisions and to post it on the Labor Commissioner’s

website. Employers are not required to comply with the notice of rights requirement until the Labor

Commissioner posts such form.

Wage Discrimination

Existing law generally prohibits an employer from paying an employee at wage rates less than the rates

paid to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work for work performance

that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility that are performed under similar working conditions.

This law now establishes that an employee’s prior salary cannot, by itself, justify any disparity in

compensation. Employers are further prohibited from wage differential based on an employee’s race or

ethnicity for substantially similar work.

Itemized Wage Statements

This bill clarifies that Section 226 does not require employers to include in itemized wage statements

the total number of work hours by an exempt employee. Employers must continue to include the total

hours worked by non-exempt employees in the itemized wage statements for each pay period.

Immigration Documents

Employers are prohibited from doing any of the following: (a) requesting more or different documents

than are required under Federal law, (b) refusing to honor documents tendered that on their face

reasonably appear to be genuine, (c) refusing to honor documents or work authorization based upon

the specific status or term of status that accompanies the authorization to work, (d) attempting to

reinvestigate or reverify an incumbent employee’s authorization to work using an unfair immigrationrelated

practice.

Minimum Wage Violations

Effective January 1, 2017, employers, prior to appealing a citation by the Labor Commissioner against

the employer for violation of wage and hour laws, must post a bond with the Labor Commissioner in an

amount equal to the unpaid wages assessed under the Labor Commissioner’s citation, excluding

penalties. The bond must be in favor of the employee and will be forfeited to the employee if the

employer fails to pay the amounts owed within 10 days from the conclusion of the proceedings.

Choice of Law and Forum in Employment Agreements

This bill prohibits employers from requiring California-based employees to enter into agreements

(including arbitration agreements) requiring them to: (1) adjudicate claims arising in California in a non-

California forum; or (2) litigate their claims under the law of another jurisdiction, unless the employee

was represented by counsel. Any provision of a contract that violates this new law is voidable by the

employee. Any dispute arising thereunder shall be adjudicated in California under California law and

the employee is entitled to recover reasonable attorneys’ fees.

For further clarification on any of these laws and best practices for implementation, please feel free to contact us at Missionwell. We would be happy to tackle these areas so you can get back to doing your mission well.   

Kenny Ahn  |  kenny@missionwell.com  |  Head of HR|  www.missionwell.com