Top New Employment Laws of 2020

January 20, 2020

With a new year come new laws. This year, there are dozens of federal and state laws joining or changing existing employment laws. California saw one major change that affects anyone who works as a contractor rather than an employee. Minimum wages went up in several cities. Other states saw big changes affecting their potential to secure a job. While employers work hard to make sure they’re meeting these changes, you should know the changes that are most likely to affect you in California and beyond.

California’s Assembly Bill 5

With the start of 2020 came a change to how independent contract workers are classified. Companies that hire freelance writers, designers, and other contractors must now designate those workers as company employees and provide the employees with medical benefits and paid vacations/time off. While the bill was designed to protect these workers, it’s led to some freelancers losing work, and some freelance job posts now specify that applicants cannot be from California. If you were fired due to this law change, it may be worth talking to an employment law attorney to see if your contract allowed for immediate dismissal.

California’s Senate Bill 142

Another employment law change in California affects new moms. If a woman is pumping her breast milk at work, she must be given accommodations in a private location. Bathrooms don’t count. The accommodations must include a sink, refrigerator, electrical outlets, and table or counter near the seating. That room must be private and sufficient time must be given to allow the worker to pump milk during the workday.

Increased Minimum Wages for Several California Cities

While the minimum wage increased to $13 on January 1st, some cities saw increases that exceeded that.  Daly City, San Diego, and Sonoma saw minimum wage climb to the range of $13 to $13.75 per hour, though smaller employers in Sonoma were able to keep that increase to $12.50. Oakland and San Leandro increased the minimum wage to $14.14 and $14, respectively.

Belmont, Cupertino, El Cerrito, Palo Alto, Redwood, Santa Clara, San Jose, San Mateo, and South San Francisco all saw minimum wage climb to $15 to $15.60 per hour. Mountain View increases its wage to $16.05.

Nevada’s Assembly Bill 132

Except for workers whose job is to ensure the safety of others, Nevada employers are no longer allowed to refuse to hire someone who has tested positive for marijuana use. As both recreational and medical marijuana are allowed in Nevada, this bill is designed to stop discrimination against marijuana users. It’s only workers like firefighters, paramedics, and police offers who may still be tested.

Maine and New York have similar jobs. If you’re applying for a job in those states and are a marijuana user, you cannot be overlooked simply because you tested positive for THC.

New Jersey’s Assembly Bill 1094

When you apply for a job in New Jersey, the prospective employer cannot ask you how much you were making at your last job. The law prevents companies from asking what your previous wage and value of benefits. The goal is to keep companies from weeding out qualified workers who made more than they want to pay. It’s also designed to stop companies from offering a lower wage than originally planned.

Oregon’s House Bill 2341

The Oregon Fair Employment Practices Act is changing to make sure that any company with six or more employees offer accommodations for any pregnant worker or new mom. If a pregnant worker is supposed to stay off her feet, she must be granted a chair to sit on while she works. If she works with chemicals and is told by her doctor to stop that portion of her job until the baby arrives, the company must alter her work responsibilities for now.

Overtime Laws That Apply to the Fair Labor Standards Act

Until now, the qualifying salary for overtime pay was $23,660 per year. The Fair Labor Standards Act protected workers earning no more than $455 a week with the guarantee of time and a half overtime pay. That qualifying salary increased to $35,568 on January 1, 2020. If you do not make more than $684 per week, you’re guaranteed the time and a half pay for any overtime you work.

This is great news for many workers as the last increase took place back in 2009. There are still exemptions from this rule. Farmworkers on small farms, fishermen/seamen, newspaper delivery workers, and seasonal workers are some of the people that are not protected by this rule.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

Starting in 2020, employees in Washington state have the right to take up to 18 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Washington D.C. will follow in July, and Massachusetts will follow in 2021. Workers can now take weeks off with pay for medical situations, births/adoptions, and family emergencies. Currently, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act only requires companies to give up to 12 weeks off unpaid if that company has at least 50 employees.

In California, the Paid Family Leave Ordinance increases paid time off for parents to eight weeks. SB-83 shifts the current six weeks to eight weeks on July 1st.

Do you think your employer may be in violation of a new law? Shegerian Conniff brings years of experience, including trials and battles with major corporations and insurance companies, to the table. They are experts in employment law and have helped clients win millions in both settlements and verdicts. You never pay a fee unless your attorneys win, and they’re there for you 24 hours a day. Call (310) 322-7500 for a free consultation.