[COLUMN] New laws taking effect in 2022

Minimum Wage Increases

Effective Jan. 1, 2022, the California state minimum wage will increase to $15 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees. For employers with 25 or fewer employees, the minimum wage will increase to $14 per hour. Some local cities and counties may have higher minimum wage requirements.

For exempt employees, the minimum wage increase will also adjust their minimum salary. To satisfy the administrative, executive, and professional exemptions, California employers must pay exempt employees a salary that is at least twice the state minimum wage. As of January 1, 2022, employers with 25 or fewer employees will be required to pay exempt employees at least $1,120 per week or $58,240 annually. Employers with 26 or more employees will be required to pay exempt employees at least $1,200 week or $62,400 annually.  (Please note: employees who are paid salaries must satisfy the exempt duties test to be correctly exempt from overtime.)

Warehouse Distribution Centers Must Disclose Quotas to Nonexempt Employees (AB 701)

AB 701 expressly prohibits any quota that prevents an employee (1) from being provided a meal or rest break; (2) from using the bathroom; or (3) from complying with health and safety laws.

AB 701 also requires employers to disclose detailed documentation of any applicable quota to each employee either upon hire or within 30 days of the effective date of the new law. Employers are prohibited from taking adverse employment action against an employee for failure to meet any quota that was not properly disclosed to the employee.

Expanded Definition of Family Member Under CFRA (AB 1033)

California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) provides protected unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks to bond with a baby, to deal with one’s own serious health condition, or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. “Family member” may be a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, and sibling. AB 1033 adds “parents-in-law” to the list of included family members for whom an eligible employee can take protected leave under (CFRA).

Intentional Wage Theft May Now Result in Criminal Charges (AB 1003)

AB 1003 provides that the intentional theft of wages or tips of more than $950 for one employee or $2,350 for two or more employees in a 12-month period is now punishable as a grand theft. This may result in either misdemeanor or felony charges. This new law also defines employees to include independent contractors.

The “Silenced No More” Law Impose Limits on NDAs and Settlement Agreements (SB 331)

  • Employees who signed a confidentiality agreement may not be restricted from disclosing facts related to their claims of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation under the FEHA. Such facts may include claims based on race, sexual orientation, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, medical condition, age, and other protected characteristics under the FEHA.
  • An employer may not require an employee to sign a release of a right to file and pursue a civil action or complaint with a state agency, law enforcement agency, or any court, in exchange for a raise or bonus, or as a condition of employment or continued employment.
  • An employer cannot require an employee to sign a non-disparagement agreement or other document to the extent it effectively denies the employee their right to disclose information about unlawful acts at work such as harassment or discrimination or any other conduct that the employee has reason to believe is unlawful.”
  • However, the above does not apply to a “negotiated” settlement agreement. “Negotiated” means that the agreement is voluntary and provides consideration of value to the employee. It further requires that the employee is given notice and an opportunity to retain an attorney or is represented by an attorney.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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The Law Offices of C. Joe Sayas, Jr. welcomes inquiries about this topic. All inquiries are confidential and at no-cost. You can contact the office at (818) 291-0088 or visit www.joesayaslaw.com. [For more than 25 years, C. Joe Sayas, Jr., Esq. successfully recovered wages and other monetary damages for thousands of employees and consumers. He was named Top Labor & Employment Attorney in California by the Daily Journal, consistently selected as Super Lawyer by the Los Angeles Magazine, and is a past Presidential Awardee for Outstanding Filipino Overseas.]

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