California increased its efforts to combat COVID-19 over the July 4th holiday weekend by deploying multi-agency strike teams to visit or otherwise make contact with businesses to evaluate and enforce compliance with and/or educate them about the State’s numerous COVID-19 orders, directives, and guidance.
The “Strike Force” includes representatives from at least ten different state agencies. Approximately 100 agents are from the Alcohol Beverage Control agency and the rest from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), the California Highway Patrol, the Board of Barbering & Cosmetology, Consumer Affairs, Food and Agriculture, Labor Commissioner’s Office, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, and other state licensing entities.
Ahead of the July 4th holiday, Governor Newsom ordered bars, indoor restaurants, movie theaters and more to close in a number of counties on a state watch list. The state monitoring list is ever changing and represents counties with a need for more support and/or enforcement.
Over the holiday, hundreds of state inspectors fanned out across California to enforce health orders related to Coronavirus.
The State’s actions are likely authorized by Executive Order N-33-20, which generally directs all residents immediately to heed current State public health directives to stay home, except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructure sectors and additional sectors as the State Public Health Officer “may designate” as critical to protect health and well-being of all Californians. As for the crackdown, the actions taken are likely be based on recent Continue reading →
Governors across the nation have signed various “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders in an increased effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many cities and counties have also signed such orders as well, including in states with no statewide order in place. These orders vary in their scope in the restricted activities and affected industries but they typically address: (1) the continued operations of critical businesses; (2) restrictions on non-essential businesses; (3) the activities individuals may continue to perform; and (4) other limitations on gatherings.
On March 19, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an emergency order requiring all individuals living in California “stay home or at their places of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.” Californians may continue working for such critical infrastructure sectors and any other industries the governor designates as critical. The emergency order cites to federal guidance on the federal critical infrastructure sectors, which identifies the 16 critical infrastructure sectors including critical manufacturing, food and agriculture, transportation, energy, healthcare and emergency services.
The emergency order references a March 19, 2020 Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which includes more detailed descriptions of categories of workers falling under each of the identified critical infrastructure sectors. Some of the other state orders also rely on this federal guidance on “essential critical infrastructure workers” in defining the critical business that may continue to operate under the orders.
2019 has produced a long list of new employment laws on a myriad of topics that will bring significant changes for California employers in 2020. Workplace safety laws range from a revamped reporting requirement to a new wildfire smoke regulation. Additional laws affecting employers include a new test for determining independent contractor status, a ban on no rehire agreements and many more. Though many of these laws will add items to the employer to-do list, employers have at least secured a one-year reprieve for completing mandatory harassment prevention training introduced last year.
Key changes affecting private sector employers are summarized below. Unless otherwise indicated, these new laws take effect January 1, 2020.
A recent California Court of Appeals decision in Townley v. BJ’s Restaurants, Inc., has further defined the scope of reimbursable business expenses under California Labor Code section 2802, this time in the context of slip-resistant shoes for restaurant workers.
A former server filed an action under the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA), seeking civil penalties on behalf of herself and other “aggrieved employees” for California Labor Code violations, including the failure to reimburse the cost of slip-resistant shoes. Plaintiff alleged a violation of Labor Code section 2802, which requires an employer to reimburse employees for all necessary expenditures incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of their duties.
Plaintiff argued that, because the restaurant required employees to wear slip-resistant, black, closed-toes shoes for safety reasons, such shoes should be provided free of cost or employees should be reimbursed for their cost.
The Court of Appeal, persuaded by the reasoning in an unpublished Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Lemus v. Denny’s, Inc., and guidance from the California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), held that section 2802 did not require the restaurant employer to reimburse its employees for the cost of slip-resistant shoes. Specifically, the Court held that the cost of shoes does not qualify as a “necessary expenditure” under section 2802.