High­light­ing changes

SCV Cham­ber, lo­cal at­tor­neys pro­vide em­ploy­ment law up­date

The Signal - - Business - By Tammy Murga Sig­nal Staff Writer

With state laws con­stantly chang­ing, the Santa Clarita Val­ley Cham­ber of Com­merce gath­ered lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers Thurs­day to high­light ev­ery­thing they need to know to be in com­pli­ance in 2019 at the an­nual Em­ploy­ment Law Up­date lun­cheon.

The event, held at the Hy­att Re­gency in Valencia, in­cluded a thor­ough pre­sen­ta­tion by at­tor­neys Brian Koe­gle and David Poole of Poole & Shaf­fery, LLP, and a brief sum­mary of a sur­vey con­ducted by the SCV Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Corp., re­veal­ing how lo­cal busi­nesses are re­spond­ing to em­ploy­ment laws.

Here’s a break­down of some top­ics dis­cussed:

#MeToo

“There’s an em­ploy­ment issue that’s on the front page of the pa­per al­most ev­ery day,” said Poole. “How is #MeToo con­tin­u­ing to im­pact the Cal­i­for­nia em­ploy­ers?”

Sex­ual ha­rass­ment cases have taken a com­plete turn and Los Angeles County is the No. 1 com­mu­nity within the state for re­lated cases, said Koe­gle. This year alone, com­pa­nies will have to com­ply with four new pieces of leg­is­la­tion, in­clud­ing Sen­ate Bill 1343. This law re­quires em­ploy­ers with five or more em­ploy­ees to of­fer at least two hours of sex­ual ha­rass­ment train­ing to all su­per­vi­sory work­ers and at least one hour to all non­super­vi­sory work­ers by Jan. 1, 2020, and once ev­ery two years there­after. Un­der SB 1300, ev­i­dence of a sin­gle in­ci­dent, or sin­gle com­ment, can be suf­fi­cient for a claim to pro­ceed to trial.

Defin­ing the dif­fer­ent types of sex­ual ha­rass­ment is vi­tal, said Koe­gle. The three types he men­tioned were quid pro quo, or an ex­change of fa­vors; hos­tile work en­vi­ron­ment and bul­ly­ing.

Time­keep­ing

One of the hard­est things for em­ploy­ers to stay on top of is time-re­lated tasks such as rest pe­ri­ods, the SCVEDC sur­vey showed.

Un­der the Au­gus­tus v. ABM Se­cu­rity court rul­ing, em­ploy­ers must “re­lieve their em­ploy­ees of all du­ties” dur­ing breaks and “re­lin­quish any con­trol over how em­ploy­ees spend their break time.”

This means em­ploy­ees can leave the premises dur­ing their time off. But what hap­pens if, for ex­am­ple, a worker drives to a cof­fee shop and hits a pedes­trian? Be­cause the em­ployee is on the clock, “they are in the scope of their em­ploy­ment,” ex­pos­ing the em­ployer to li­a­bil­ity. To ad­dress this, Koe­gle sug­gests work­ers clock out and then credit back the break time.

Time­keep­ing-re­lated is­sues are among the most fre­quent ones Poole & Shaf­fery at­tor­neys as­sist busi­nesses with, said Poole. While the task is of­ten te­dious, em­ploy­ers must doc­u­ment all time in­for­ma­tion to avoid what Koe­gle called a “cred­i­bil­ity bat­tle” or a “he said, she said” sit­u­a­tion.

“It is now es­sen­tial to go back and look at our time­keep­ing, take a look at our poli­cies and pro­ce­dures to make sure that we are com­pen­sat­ing our folks for all time they [work],” he said.

In­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors

In April 2018, un­der Dy­namex Op­er­a­tions West, Inc. v. Su­pe­rior Court of L.A., the state Supreme Court es­tab­lished up­dated rules for defin­ing who is con­sid­ered an in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tor.

“The pre­sump­tion of the Leg­is­la­ture is to pro­tect the worker, not the busi­ness,” said Koe­gle. The state wants in­di­vid­u­als who per­form work in Cal­i­for­nia to be deemed non-ex­empt em­ploy­ees with paid over­time, rest pe­ri­ods, ben­e­fits, etc. To clas­sify some­one as an in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tor, busi­nesses must show the fol­low­ing:

▪ Worker must be free from con­trol and direc­tion of the hirer.

▪ Worker per­forms work that is out­side the usual course of the hir­ing en­tity’s busi­ness.

▪ Worker is cus­tom­ar­ily en­gaged in an in­de­pen­dently es­tab­lished trade, oc­cu­pa­tion, or busi­ness of the same na­ture as the work per­formed for the hir­ing en­tity.

Best prac­tices

To pro­tect one’s em­ploy­ees and busi­ness, at­tor­neys Poole and Koe­gle sug­gest the fol­low­ing:

▪ Per­form an an­nual au­dit of em­ploy­ment prac­tices, poli­cies and pro­ce­dures.

▪ Up­date the em­ployee hand­book to re­flect law changes.

▪ Main­tain writ­ten job de­scrip­tions for ev­ery category of em­ploy­ment.

▪ Up­date wage claim re­lease lan­guage.

▪ Ob­tain em­ploy­ment prac­tices li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance cov­er­age.

Dan Wat­son/The Sig­nal

At­tor­neys Brian Koe­gle, left, and David Poole of Poole & Shaf­fery, LLP, de­tails the changes in state laws at the 2019 Em­ploy­ment Law Up­date event pre­sented by the Santa Clarita Val­ley Cham­ber of Com­merce at the Hy­att Re­gency Valencia on Thurs­day. Var­i­ous lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers at­tended the event.

Dan Wat­son/The Sig­nal

At­ten­dees fol­low along with a slideshow pre­sen­ta­tion dur­ing the 2019 Em­ploy­ment Law Up­date event pre­sented by the Santa Clarita Val­ley Cham­ber of Com­merce at the Hy­att Re­gency Valencia on Thurs­day.

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