New California Employment Laws for 2022 By Teresa McQueen, Western Growers Corporate Counsel The end of another active Legislative bill-signing session has Gov. Gavin Newsom once again enacting several significant new employment related laws impacting California employers. Below is a summary of many of the laws affecting employers in the state. All are effective January 1, 2022, unless otherwise noted.

AB 73 – Health Emergencies, Employment Safety, Agricultural Workers, Wildfire Smoke. AB 73, also known as the “Farmworker Wildfire Smoke Protection Act,” is intended to protect agricultural workers from the hazards of wildfire smoke by allocating state resources to fund the creation of bilingual educational materials and stockpiles of protective masks. The bill requires Cal/OSHA to review and update its existing “protection from wildfire smoke training” and post those updates on its website. The bill also requires employers to modify existing training methods to provide training in a language and manner readily understandable by its employees, considering ethnic and cultural backgrounds, education levels, and including the use of pictograms as necessary. Signed into law Sept. 27, 2021, the Act took immediate effect. SB 572 – Labor Commissioner Liens on Real Property SB 572 expands current Labor Commissioner authority to create, as an alternative to a judgment lien, a lien on real property to secure amounts due to the commissioner under any final citation, findings, or decision. Existing law allows the Labor Commissioner the same authority with regard to recovering amounts due under final orders in favor of an employee named in the order. This expansion creates a direct means for the state to collect monies due from employers ordered to pay civil penalties for violations of state law, including the failure to pay minimum wage. To avoid the imposition of a real property lien, employers issued final citations, findings or decisions for labor code violations, should seek immediate legal consultation. SB 606 – Cal/OSHA Enterprise-Wide Violations SB 606 creates an “enterprise-wide” rebuttable presumption for employers with multiple worksites who violate an occupational safety or health standard, order, special order, or regulation. The presumption applies if the employer has a written policy or procedure that violates Cal/OSHA provisions or there is a record evidencing a pattern or practice of the same violation committed by the employer involving more than one of its worksites. If an employer cannot rebut the presumption, SB 606

authorizes Cal/OSHA to issue an enterprise-wide citation for egregious violations for each willful violation (as determined by Cal/OSHA), and count each employee impacted by the violation as a separate violation for purposes of the issuance of fines and penalties. In other words, the maximum penalty would be assessed per violation, per employee. The statutory amendments of SB 606 also authorize Cal/OSHA to investigate the employer’s policies and practices or those of any related employer entity, to issue and enforce a subpoena for any failure to provide requested information. The ability to seek an injunction or temporary restraining order has also been authorized. SB 639 – Minimum Wages for Persons with Disabilities SB 639 is the culmination of several subsequent Presidential and Gubernatorial legislative acts that have pushed forward the rights of developmentally disabled workers to receive the same legal rights and responsibilities guaranteed all other persons by the United States and California Constitutions, regardless of the severity of their disabilities. The bill ends current exemptions, and after Jan. 1, 2022, prohibits the issuance of any special licenses authorizing the employment of mentally and/or physically disabled workers at less than the prevailing minimum wage. Existing licenses will be phased-out and rendered inoperative as of Jan. 1, 2025 (or sooner should a multiyear phaseout plan be released before that date). SB 646 – Private Attorneys General Act; Janitorial Employee Exemption An exception to the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) is created by SB 646 for janitorial employees under certain specified conditions. To be excepted from PAGA mandates a janitorial employee must meet specified criteria such as: 1) being represented by a labor organization that has represented janitors before January 1, 2021; and 2) being employed by a registered janitorial contractor as a property service employer in the year 2020 with respect to work performed under a valid collective bargaining agreement in effect any time before July 1, 2028 (additional mandates apply). Janitorial employees may still bring an action under California’s Labor Code if a court or administrative agency finds the labor organization has breached its duty to fairly



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