2012 New Laws

As the calendar flips to 2012, it's a good time to make sure you are up-to-date with the new laws, regulations and court cases, many of which will impact California employers’ day-to-day operations and policies. These updates are organized by topic below to help you understand your responsibilities and learn how they will impact your business.

Also, check the Required Posters and Pamphlets page to make sure you are compliant.
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Recruiting & Hiring
Legislation
  • Providing Wage Information Upon Hire - Nonexempt employees must be provided with specific wage information at the time of hire.
  • Independent Contractor - It is unlawful for any person or employer to "willfully misclassify" an individual as an independent contractor.
  • Work Permits for Minors - Prior to the first employment of a minor performer, a temporary permit may now be issued under specific circumstances.
  • Obtaining Credit Reports - Under California law, employers and prospective employers (not including certain financial institutions) are generally prohibited from using a consumer credit report for employment purposes.
  • Obtaining Investigative Consumer Reports - Investigative reports must include the investigative consumer reporting agency’s Internet address or telephone number.
Regulation
Court Case
  • E-Verify - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can require businesses to use the federal E-Verify program. However, California enacted legislation that prohibits state agencies and local governments from requiring its use.
  • Unlicensed Professionals May Be Exempt as Learned Professionals - The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that unlicensed accountants are not categorically ineligible for California’s professional exemption.
  • Definition of Commission Expanded - A California Court of Appeals ruled that a Carmax salesperson was properly classified as an exempt commissioned salesperson within the meaning of California Labor Code Section 204.1.
  • Collective Bargaining Agreements and Independent Contractors - The right to control the work is still the most important factor in determining independent contractor or employee status, but courts must also consider other factors. Some of those other factors include if you provide benefits to the workers and the terms of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that's in place.
Benefits
Legislation
  • Domestic Partner Insurance Benefits - The law was amended to provide that every group health care service plan contract and every group health insurance policy that is marketed, issued or delivered to a California resident is subject to the requirements to provide equal coverage to domestic partners as is provided to spouses, notwithstanding any other provision of law.
  • Domestic Partner Benefits in State Contracts - The law was amended to make clear that companies doing business with the state of California cannot deny equal benefits to same sex spouses or same sex domestic partners.
Regulation
Pay & Scheduling
Legislation
Regulation
Court Case
Leaves of Absence
Legislation
  • Benefits and PDL - State law now requires you to provide continued health insurance coverage while an employee is on a PDL leave.
  • Organ and Bone Marrow Donor Leave - For purposes of Organ and Bone Marrow Donor Leave, a 2011 law clarifies that a “one year period” is 12 consecutive months from the date the employee begins his/her leave, not one calendar year.
Court Case
  • Sabbatical Versus Vacation - A California Court of Appeal evaluated the differences between paid sabbaticals and regular paid vacations.
Discrimination
Legislation
  • Medical Condition and Genetic Information - California has now included genetic information to the list of anti-discrimination protections.
  • Gender - The Fair Employment and Housing Act was amended to further define "gender" to include both gender identity and “gender expression” and to make clear that discrimination on either basis is prohibited.
Court Case
  • Class Action Discrimination Lawsuits - The U.S. Supreme Court blocked "one of the most expansive class actions ever," ruling that 1.5 million female employees could not file a class action discrimination lawsuit.
  • Discriminatory Intent - The U.S. Supreme Court potentially expanded employer liability for discrimination and harassment claims when it ruled in 2011 that an employer can be liable for wrongful termination even if the manager who makes the termination decision acted with no discriminatory intent.
  • Employees Protected From Retaliation - The U.S. Supreme Court found that Title VII covers third-party claims of retaliation brought by persons who did not themselves engage in any protected activity.
Harassment
Court Case
Disabilities & Accessibility
Legislation
Regulation
  • Federal Revisions to ADA Regulations - In 2010, the federal government revised the Department of Justice’s ADA regulations. The revisions included changes to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Businesses open to the public had the option of bringing their businesses into compliance with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design as early as September 15, 2011. They are required to do so no later than March 15, 2012.
Court Case
Discipline & Termination
Court Case
  • The Disciplinary Process - A case from the Ninth Circuit shows the pitfalls of inconsistent discipline.
  • Municipalities Can Ban Grocery Store Layoffs - The California Supreme Court upheld a Los Angeles ordinance that forbids new owners of large grocery stores from laying off the existing workforce for 90 days after the new ownership takes over.
  • FLSA Protects Verbal Complaints - A court decided whether a verbal complaint is enough to trigger the FLSA’s protections against an employer retaliating against the employee for making complaints.
Workplace Safety
Legislation
  • Health Care Workers - The Hospital Patient and Health Care Worker Injury Protection Act requires employers to adopt a patient protection and health care worker back and musculoskeletal injury prevention plan.
Regulation
  • DOT Revised Testing Regulations in 2010 - Effective December 1, 2011, all Department of Transportation (DOT) regulated employers must ensure that they and their service agents use the new federal Custody and Control Form.
Court Case
Workers' Compensation
Court Case
Privacy
Court Case
Regulatory Agency Action
Personnel Records
Legislation
  • Keeping Medical Information Private - If you keep electronic medical information, you must comply with new requirements. Also, California enacted legislation that clarifies the extent of protection for genetic information in California.
Unions
Court Case
  • Social Media Use and Unfair Labor Practice Charges - A multitude of cases are currently pending before the NLRB regarding the termination of employees for the use of Facebook and other social media and employer policies regarding use of social media.
Posting and Notice Requirements
Regulation
  • National Labor Relations Act Poster - The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a final rule that will require all employers, union and non-union, to notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), effective April 30, 2012. This rule is subject to several legal challenges.
  • For an easily printable review of the 2012 new laws, download now.