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AB-1509 Employer liability.(2015-2016)

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AB1509:v94#DOCUMENT

Assembly Bill No. 1509
CHAPTER 792

An act to amend Sections 98.6, 1102.5, 2810.3, and 6310 of the Labor Code, relating to employment.

[ Approved by Governor  October 11, 2015. Filed with Secretary of State  October 11, 2015. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1509, Roger Hernández. Employer liability.
(1) Existing law prohibits an employer from discharging an employee or in any manner discriminating, retaliating, or taking any adverse action against any employee or applicant for employment because the employee or applicant has engaged in protected conduct, as specified. Existing law provides that an employee who made a bona fide complaint, and was consequently discharged or otherwise suffered an adverse action, is entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages. Existing law makes it a misdemeanor for an employer to willfully refuse to reinstate or otherwise restore an employee who is determined by a specified procedure to be eligible for reinstatement. Existing law subjects a person who violates these provisions to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.
This bill would extend the protections of these provisions, as specified, to an employee who is a family member of a person who engaged in, or was perceived to engage in, the protected conduct or make a complaint protected by these provisions. This bill would define terms for the purpose of these provisions.
(2) Existing law requires a client employer to share with a labor contractor all civil legal responsibility and civil liability for all workers supplied by that labor contractor for the payment of wages and the failure to obtain valid workers’ compensation coverage. Existing law also prohibits a client employer from shifting to the labor contractor legal duties or liabilities under workplace safety provisions with respect to workers provided by the labor contractor. Existing law defines terms for these purposes and authorizes the Labor Commissioner to adopt regulations and rules of practice and procedure necessary to administer and enforce these provisions. Existing law excludes certain types of employers from these provisions, including, but not limited to, a client employer that is not a motor carrier of property based solely on the employer’s use of a third-party motor carrier of property with interstate or intrastate operating authority to ship or receive freight, and a client employer that is a motor carrier of property subcontracting with, or otherwise engaging, another motor carrier of property to provide transportation services using its own employees and commercial motor vehicles.
The Household Goods Carriers Act subjects household goods carriers to the jurisdiction and control of the Public Utilities Commission. The act prohibits a household goods carrier from engaging, or attempting to engage, in the business of the transportation of used household goods and personal effects by motor vehicle over any public highway in the state without a permit issued by the commission authorizing transportation entirely within the state, or a valid operating authority issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for interstate transportation.
This bill would expand the types of employers excluded from those labor contracting provisions to include a client employer that is not a household goods carrier based solely on the employer’s use of a third-party household goods carrier permitted by the commission to move household goods, and a client employer that is a permitted household goods carrier subcontracting with, or otherwise engaging, another permitted household goods carrier to provide transportation of household goods using its own employees and motor vehicles.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 98.6 of the Labor Code is amended to read:

98.6.
 (a) A person shall not discharge an employee or in any manner discriminate, retaliate, or take any adverse action against any employee or applicant for employment because the employee or applicant engaged in any conduct delineated in this chapter, including the conduct described in subdivision (k) of Section 96, and Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 1101) of Part 3 of Division 2, or because the employee or applicant for employment has filed a bona fide complaint or claim or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or relating to his or her rights that are under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner, made a written or oral complaint that he or she is owed unpaid wages, or because the employee has initiated any action or notice pursuant to Section 2699, or has testified or is about to testify in a proceeding pursuant to that section, or because of the exercise by the employee or applicant for employment on behalf of himself, herself, or others of any rights afforded him or her.
(b) (1) Any employee who is discharged, threatened with discharge, demoted, suspended, retaliated against, subjected to an adverse action, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of his or her employment because the employee engaged in any conduct delineated in this chapter, including the conduct described in subdivision (k) of Section 96, and Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 1101) of Part 3 of Division 2, or because the employee has made a bona fide complaint or claim to the division pursuant to this part, or because the employee has initiated any action or notice pursuant to Section 2699 shall be entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by those acts of the employer.
(2) An employer who willfully refuses to hire, promote, or otherwise restore an employee or former employee who has been determined to be eligible for rehiring or promotion by a grievance procedure, arbitration, or hearing authorized by law, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(3) In addition to other remedies available, an employer who violates this section is liable for a civil penalty not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per employee for each violation of this section, to be awarded to the employee or employees who suffered the violation.
(c) (1) Any applicant for employment who is refused employment, who is not selected for a training program leading to employment, or who in any other manner is discriminated against in the terms and conditions of any offer of employment because the applicant engaged in any conduct delineated in this chapter, including the conduct described in subdivision (k) of Section 96, and Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 1101) of Part 3 of Division 2, or because the applicant has made a bona fide complaint or claim to the division pursuant to this part, or because the employee has initiated any action or notice pursuant to Section 2699 shall be entitled to employment and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the prospective employer.
(2) This subdivision shall not be construed to invalidate any collective bargaining agreement that requires an applicant for a position that is subject to the collective bargaining agreement to sign a contract that protects either or both of the following as specified in subparagraphs (A) and (B), nor shall this subdivision be construed to invalidate any employer requirement of an applicant for a position that is not subject to a collective bargaining agreement to sign an employment contract that protects either or both of the following:
(A) An employer against any conduct that is actually in direct conflict with the essential enterprise-related interests of the employer and where breach of that contract would actually constitute a material and substantial disruption of the employer’s operation.
(B) A firefighter against any disease that is presumed to arise in the course and scope of employment, by limiting his or her consumption of tobacco products on and off the job.
(d) The provisions of this section creating new actions or remedies that are effective on January 1, 2002, to employees or applicants for employment do not apply to any state or local law enforcement agency, any religious association or corporation specified in subdivision (d) of Section 12926 of the Government Code, except as provided in Section 12926.2 of the Government Code, or any person described in Section 1070 of the Evidence Code.
(e) An employer, or a person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee because the employee is a family member of a person who has, or is perceived to have, engaged in any conduct delineated in this chapter.
(f) For purposes of this section, “employer” or “a person acting on behalf of the employer” includes, but is not limited to, a client employer as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 2810.3 and an employer listed in subdivision (b) of Section 6400.
(g) Subdivisions (e) and (f) shall not apply to claims arising under subdivision (k) of Section 96 unless the lawful conduct occurring during nonwork hours away from the employer’s premises involves the exercise of employee rights otherwise covered under subdivision (a).

SEC. 2.

 Section 1102.5 of the Labor Code is amended to read:

1102.5.
 (a) An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency, to a person with authority over the employee, or to another employee who has authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, or from providing information to, or testifying before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry, if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation, regardless of whether disclosing the information is part of the employee’s job duties.
(b) An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee for disclosing information, or because the employer believes that the employee disclosed or may disclose information, to a government or law enforcement agency, to a person with authority over the employee or another employee who has the authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, or for providing information to, or testifying before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry, if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation, regardless of whether disclosing the information is part of the employee’s job duties.
(c) An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation.
(d) An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee for having exercised his or her rights under subdivision (a), (b), or (c) in any former employment.
(e) A report made by an employee of a government agency to his or her employer is a disclosure of information to a government or law enforcement agency pursuant to subdivisions (a) and (b).
(f) In addition to other penalties, an employer that is a corporation or limited liability company is liable for a civil penalty not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each violation of this section.
(g) This section does not apply to rules, regulations, or policies that implement, or to actions by employers against employees who violate, the confidentiality of the lawyer-client privilege of Article 3 (commencing with Section 950) of, or the physician-patient privilege of Article 6 (commencing with Section 990) of, Chapter 4 of Division 8 of the Evidence Code, or trade secret information.
(h) An employer, or a person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee because the employee is a family member of a person who has, or is perceived to have, engaged in any acts protected by this section.
(i) For purposes of this section, “employer” or “a person acting on behalf of the employer” includes, but is not limited to, a client employer as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 2810.3 and an employer listed in subdivision (b) of Section 6400.

SEC. 3.

 Section 2810.3 of the Labor Code is amended to read:

2810.3.
 (a) As used in this section:
(1) (A) “Client employer” means a business entity, regardless of its form, that obtains or is provided workers to perform labor within its usual course of business from a labor contractor.
(B) “Client employer” does not include any of the following:
(i) A business entity with a workforce of fewer than 25 workers, including those hired directly by the client employer and those obtained from, or provided by, any labor contractor.
(ii) A business entity with five or fewer workers supplied by a labor contractor or labor contractors to the client employer at any given time.
(iii) The state or any political subdivision of the state, including any city, county, city and county, or special district.
(2) “Labor” has the same meaning provided by Section 200.
(3) “Labor contractor” means an individual or entity that supplies, either with or without a contract, a client employer with workers to perform labor within the client employer’s usual course of business. “Labor contractor” does not include any of the following:
(A) A bona fide nonprofit, community-based organization that provides services to workers.
(B) A bona fide labor organization or apprenticeship program or hiring hall operated pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement.
(C) A motion picture payroll services company as defined in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (4) of subdivision (f) of Section 679 of the Unemployment Insurance Code.
(D) A third party who is a party to an employee leasing arrangement, as defined by Rule 4 of Section V of the California Workers’ Compensation Experience Rating Plan-1995 (Section 2353.1 of Title 10 of the California Code of Regulations), as it read on January 1, 2014, except those arrangements described in subrule d of Rule 4 of Section V, if the employee leasing arrangement contractually obligates the client employer to assume all civil legal responsibility and civil liability under this act.
(4) “Wages” has the same meaning provided by Section 200 and all sums payable to an employee or the state based upon any failure to pay wages, as provided by law.
(5) “Worker” does not include an employee who is exempt from the payment of an overtime rate of compensation for executive, administrative, and professional employees pursuant to wage orders by the Industrial Welfare Commission described in Section 515.
(6) “Usual course of business” means the regular and customary work of a business, performed within or upon the premises or worksite of the client employer.
(b) A client employer shall share with a labor contractor all civil legal responsibility and civil liability for all workers supplied by that labor contractor for both of the following:
(1) The payment of wages.
(2) Failure to secure valid workers’ compensation coverage as required by Section 3700.
(c) A client employer shall not shift to the labor contractor any legal duties or liabilities under Division 5 (commencing with Section 6300) with respect to workers supplied by the labor contractor.
(d) At least 30 days prior to filing a civil action against a client employer for violations covered by this section, a worker or his or her representative shall notify the client employer of violations under subdivision (b).
(e) Neither the client employer nor the labor contractor may take any adverse action against any worker for providing notification of violations or filing a claim or civil action.
(f) The provisions of subdivisions (b) and (c) are in addition to, and shall be supplemental of, any other theories of liability or requirement established by statute or common law.
(g) This section does not prohibit a client employer from establishing, exercising, or enforcing by contract any otherwise lawful remedies against a labor contractor for liability created by acts of a labor contractor.
(h) This section does not prohibit a labor contractor from establishing, exercising, or enforcing by contract any otherwise lawful remedies against a client employer for liability created by acts of a client employer.
(i) Upon request by a state enforcement agency or department, a client employer or a labor contractor shall provide to the agency or department any information within its possession, custody, or control required to verify compliance with applicable state laws. Upon request, these records shall be made available promptly for inspection, and the state agency or department shall be permitted to copy them. This subdivision does not require the disclosure of information that is not otherwise required to be disclosed by employers upon request by a state enforcement agency or department.
(j) The Labor Commissioner may adopt regulations and rules of practice and procedure necessary to administer and enforce the provisions of subdivisions (b) and (i) that are under his or her jurisdiction.
(k) The Division of Occupational Safety and Health may adopt regulations and rules of practice and procedure necessary to administer and enforce the provisions of subdivisions (c) and (i) that are under its jurisdiction.
(l) The Employment Development Department may adopt regulations and rules of practice and procedure necessary to administer and enforce the provisions of subdivisions (b) and (i) that are under its jurisdiction.
(m) A waiver of this section is contrary to public policy, and is void and unenforceable.
(n) This section shall not be interpreted to impose individual liability on a homeowner for labor or services received at the home or the owner of a home-based business for labor or services received at the home.
(o) This section shall not be interpreted to impose liability on a client employer for the use of an independent contractor other than a labor contractor or to change the definition of independent contractor.
(p) This section shall not be interpreted to impose liability on the following:
(1) A client employer that is not a motor carrier of property based solely on the employer’s use of a third-party motor carrier of property with interstate or intrastate operating authority to ship or receive freight.
(2) A client employer that is a motor carrier of property subcontracting with, or otherwise engaging, another motor carrier of property to provide transportation services using its own employees and commercial motor vehicles, as defined in Section 34601 of the Vehicle Code.
(3) A client employer that is not a household goods carrier based solely on the employer’s use of a third-party household goods carrier permitted by the Public Utilities Commission pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 5101) of Division 2 of the Public Utilities Code to move household goods.
(4) A client employer that is a household goods carrier permitted by the Public Utilities Commission pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 5101) of Division 2 of the Public Utilities Code subcontracting with, or otherwise engaging, another permitted household goods carrier to provide transportation of household goods using its own employees and motor vehicles, as defined in Section 5108 of the Public Utilities Code.
(5) A client employer that is a cable operator as defined by Section 5830 of the Public Utilities Code, a direct-to-home satellite service provider, or a telephone corporation as defined by Section 234 of the Public Utilities Code, based upon its contracting with a company to build, install, maintain, or perform repair work utilizing the employees and vehicles of the contractor if the name of the contractor is visible on employee uniforms and vehicles.
(6) A motor club holding a certificate of authority issued pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 12160) of Part 5 of Division 2 of the Insurance Code when it contracts with third parties to provide motor club services utilizing the employees and vehicles of the third-party contractor if the name of the contractor is visible on the contractor’s vehicles.

SEC. 4.

 Section 6310 of the Labor Code is amended to read:

6310.
 (a) No person shall discharge or in any manner discriminate against any employee because the employee has done any of the following:
(1) Made any oral or written complaint to the division, other governmental agencies having statutory responsibility for or assisting the division with reference to employee safety or health, his or her employer, or his or her representative.
(2) Instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or relating to his or her rights or has testified or is about to testify in the proceeding or because of the exercise by the employee on behalf of himself, herself, or others of any rights afforded him or her.
(3) Participated in an occupational health and safety committee established pursuant to Section 6401.7.
(b) Any employee who is discharged, threatened with discharge, demoted, suspended, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment by his or her employer because the employee has made a bona fide oral or written complaint to the division, other governmental agencies having statutory responsibility for or assisting the division with reference to employee safety or health, his or her employer, or his or her representative, of unsafe working conditions, or work practices, in his or her employment or place of employment, or has participated in an employer-employee occupational health and safety committee, shall be entitled to reinstatement and reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits caused by the acts of the employer. Any employer who willfully refuses to rehire, promote, or otherwise restore an employee or former employee who has been determined to be eligible for rehiring or promotion by a grievance procedure, arbitration, or hearing authorized by law, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(c) An employer, or a person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee because the employee is a family member of a person who has, or is perceived to have, engaged in any acts protected by this section.
(d) For purposes of this section, “employer” or “a person acting on behalf of the employer” includes, but is not limited to, a client employer as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 2810.3 and an employer listed in subdivision (b) of Section 6400.