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California HR professionals already have a lot of state-specific details they need to understand. This year, many new laws are taking effect, and employers are grappling with a flurry of court rulings and regulatory activity from 2014.
Even as the president called for a national paid-sick-leave law in the week leading up to the 2015 State of the Union address and during the speech, employers in California are struggling to comply with a state mandate for paid leave that takes effect July 1, 2015.
California enacted new occupational safety and health laws last year that will impact Golden State employers in 2015. These new statutes deal with harassment training, cool-down periods, penalty abatements and workplace violence prevention.
On-Duty Guards Entitled to Pay for On-Call and Sleep Time
The California Supreme Court ruled that the on-call hours for security guards who work 24-hour shifts constituted compensable hours worked. Further, the court ruled that the guards’ employer could not exclude “sleep time” from the guards’ 24-hour shifts.
California Legislature Reconvenes for 2015-16 Regular Session
One of the first bills introduced was one that would raise the minimum wage on Jan. 1, 2016, to $11 per hour and on July 1, 2017, to $13 per hour, and would mandate automatic adjustments to account for inflation, beginning Jan. 1, 2019.
A jury award of no compensatory damages and $1 in nominal damages will not preclude the award of maximum punitive damages under Title VII, according to the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over California.   
The federal appellate court with jurisdiction over California held that a hearing-impaired employee allegedly terminated for threatening co-workers and conducting personal business during work hours lacked an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim because he could not show that the employer’s asserted reasons for the discharge were a pretext for disability bias.  
For people with criminal records, the road to finding work has long been filled with roadblocks. Once they’ve left their prison cells behind, they often experience a new sense of isolation when there’s no reply after applying for jobs.
California state law provides ID tags for “assistance dogs” and makes denying access to a disabled person a misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $2,500. But the law’s requirement of reasonable accommodation specifically excludes emotional support animals.
In addition to federal and state laws, San Francisco now has 11 labor and employment laws that apply only to employees working within the city. The latest law expands the rights of some retail workers employed by specified retail employers.

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Employee Benefits Strategies
The purpose of the Employee Benefits Strategies series is to identify the benefits California organizations provide to their employees and determine if they leverage these benefits for recruitment and retention. In this research, California data are compared with national data.

Metro Economic Outlooks
SHRM’s Metro Economic Outlook reports provide comprehensive analysis of the economies of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. Click below for reports on:
Los Angeles
San Francisco
San Diego

The Ongoing Impact of the Recession
These survey findings look at differences between California and the U.S. in financial health, hiring, recruiting, and the skills gap.

The Employee Benefits Landscape
How do California employers compare with national averages in benefits offerings? Survey data of 300 benefits are reported in 11 areas. 




Focus on HR

Two legal experts help untangle some of the complexities of California employment law.


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