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Employment regulations and court cases that may affect California law

The year 2017 may bring about changes for California employers and their employees. In particular, proposed state regulation and key cases with the California Supreme Court have the potential to impact laws regarding hiring practices, wage and hour and transgender protections. 

Regulations proposed by the Fair Employment and Housing Council (FEHC) will expand protections for transgender individuals when it comes to workplace restroom use and gender selection on job applications. A second set of regulations from the FEHC would restrict the use of criminal background checks in hiring decisions. The three Supreme Court cases related to issues regarding the "one day's rest in seven" rule, working off-the-clock and independent contractor status.

Below is a summary of proposed California regulations and cases to watch in 2017:

  • Transgender issues - Proposed FEHC regulation will prohibit companies from discriminating against those who do not designate between male and female on their job applications. It also would require businesses with single-stall bathrooms as "all-gender toilet facilities."
  • Criminal-background checks - Currently, criminal-background checks can be used by employers to determine eligibility for employment. With this new law, the use of criminal-background checks will be illegal unless an employer's policy for doing so is job-related and consistent with business necessity.
  • One day's rest in seven - In Mendoza v. Nordstrom, two former Nordstrom employees claim the company did not provide them "one day's rest in seven" as required by state law. This court decision will help to clarify California Labor Code regarding how to calculate when this rest day should be provided.
  • Off-the clock workTroester v. Starbucks involves an employee claiming that Starbucks failed to pay him for off-the-clock work, including setting the store alarm and locking the door. In district court, the claim failed as the unpaid time was considered de minimis, or insignificant. The California Supreme Court will provide clarification of the "de minimis" doctrine as it applies to employment law.
  • Independent contractor status - In Dynamex Operations West v. Superior Court, two delivery drivers allege they were misclassified as independent contractors. Currently, the standard for independent contractor classification is broad, so the California Supreme Court has been called upon to provide needed clarification.

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