California Rings In 2013 With New Employment Laws

by FordHarrison

Executive Summary:  After the Mayans failed to predict the end of the world on December 21, 2012, it became apparent that California employers would have to comply with a string of new laws that take effect on January 1, 2013.  Here is a summary of seven new employment laws to be aware of so you can revise your employment policies accordingly. 

  1. Current and Former Employees Get Access to their "Personnel Files" Within 30 days of Request (AB 2674/Labor Code 226 and 1198.5):  Employers are required to provide current and former employees with copies of their personnel records "relating to the employee's performance or to any grievance concerning the employee" within 30 days of the request.  The new law does not clearly define "personnel records" but some examples of personnel records are: handbook acknowledgment forms; signed arbitration agreements; employment applications; payroll authorization forms; warnings, discipline and/or termination notices; notices of layoff, leave of absence, or vacation; garnishment notices; training notices; performance reviews; and attendance records.  Failure to comply with this new law may subject an employer to a penalty of $750 per violation, as well as attorneys' fees. 
  2. Employers Must Accommodate Religious Dress and Grooming (AB 1964/Government Code 12926 and 12940): Employers must accommodate an employee's or job applicant's "religious dress" or "grooming practices."  Religious dress includes the wearing or carrying of religious clothing, head or face coverings, jewelry, and artifacts.  Religious grooming practices include those pertaining to head, facial, or body hair that are part of the observance by an individual of his or her religious creed.  This new law specifically provides that segregating the employee from the public or other employees is not a reasonable accommodation. 
  3. Mistakes on Wage Statements Can Cost Employers $4,000 Per Employee (SB 1255/Labor Code 226): Existing law requires employers to provide nine categories of information on an employee's wage statement.  This new law makes clear that if an employer fails to provide that information, employees are deemed to suffer an "injury" for the purpose of recovering a penalty: $50 for the initial pay period; $100 for each subsequent pay period with a maximum penalty of $4,000, as well as attorneys' fees.  To avoid any costly mistakes, employers should ensure that the following nine pieces of information appear on each employee's wage statement: (1) gross wages earned; (2) total hours worked (except for exempt employees); (3) piece rate units or piece rates (if applicable); (4) all deductions; (5) net wages earned; (6) the inclusive dates of the period for which the employee is paid; (7) employee name and last four digits of the social security number or employee ID; (8) name and address of the legal entity who is the employer; and (9) all applicable hourly rates in effect during the pay period and corresponding number of hours worked.  
  4. New Regulations Related To Pregnancy Disability Leave:  New pregnancy regulations redefine the number of days that employees may take for pregnancy disability leave.  Instead of the previously defined "four months" of leave, the leave is now defined as 17 1/3 weeks to account for the uneven number of days in certain months.  Employers are also required to notify employees in writing when a medical certification is required for the leave of absence.  In light of these changes, employers are required to post new notices in the workplace that notify employees of the changes.  If you employ 50 or more employees, use this notice:  If you employ fewer than 50 employees, use this notice:
  5. Employers Are Barred From Requesting Social Media Information Unless Needed For An Investigation of Employee Misconduct (AB 1844/Labor Code Chap 2.5):  Employers are prohibited from asking employees or job applicants to disclose any information related to their personal social media accounts, which includes an employee's e-mail account and text messages.  The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against anyone who refuses to provide such information.  However, the law provides an exception where the employer reasonably believes that the employee has engaged in misconduct or has violated the law, and the social media information is used solely for the purpose of an investigation.   
  6. Salaries for Non-exempt Employees Do Not Include Overtime (AB 2103/Labor Code 515): This law defines a non-exempt employee's "salary" as only including 40 hours per week, not any overtime hours.  The law was enacted to overturn a recent Court of Appeal decision (Arechiga v. Dolores Press) where the employee agreed to a fixed weekly salary that included payment of both regular and overtime hours.  Based on this new law, if any overtime is owed to a non-exempt employee, the employee's hourly rate will be based on 1/40th of any salary paid to calculate owed overtime.  In other words, if the employee's salary is above minimum wage, the employer cannot use the difference in pay to account for owed overtime compensation. 
  7. Employers Must Provide Employees Written Commission Agreements, But Some Exceptions Apply (AB 2675/Labor Code 2751): Employers who pay regular commissions must provide employees with an executed written contract setting forth both the formula for calculating commissions, as well as the method of payment.  Failure to comply with this new law may subject an employer to penalties under California's Private Attorney General Act ("PAGA") in the amount of $100 for each affected employee for an initial violation and $200 per employee for each violation thereafter.  The term "commissions" does not include:  (1) short-term productivity bonuses such as those paid to retail clerks; (2) temporary incentives that increase commissions; or (3) bonus or profit-sharing plans, unless they are based on a fixed percentage of sales or profits. 

Employers' Bottom Line:

California employers will be required to comply with a number of new laws in 2013. If you have any questions regarding these new laws or other labor or employment related issues, please contact the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work or the author of this Alert, Michelle B. Abidoye,, who is an attorney in our Los Angeles office.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© FordHarrison | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


FordHarrison on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.