On Tuesday, September 27, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed S.B. 1162 into law, requiring companies of 100 or more employees to submit annual reports detailing the mean and median pay of their employees by race and gender to California’s Civil Rights Department. This reporting will assist the State in combating pay disparities along race and gender lines. According to US Census figures, women earn about 83 cents to a man’s dollar. Black women are paid about 58 cents for every dollar a White man earns.
In addition to reporting requirements, the new law mandates that California companies with 15 or more employees include pay scales in their job postings. Those companies will also be required upon request to provide employees with the pay scale of their jobs and maintain job title and wage history for every employee. That data will be subject to inspection by California’s Labor Commissioner. Companies that fail to comply with this mandate could face penalties of up to $10,000.
Teukolsky Law congratulates all of those who fought for the bill’s passage, including the California Employment Lawyer’s Association, which sponsored the bill.
If you believe you are not being paid properly, click here to get in touch with our office. To read S.B. 1162 in its entirety, click here.
Lauren Teukolsky was quoted in a September 19th article by Bloomberg Law on AB 2188, a recently signed bill in California that prohibits employers from discriminating against workers who use cannabis in their off-work hours. Once the bill goes into effect on January 1, 2024, it will be illegal for California employers to make any employment decisions based on an employee’s use of cannabis “off the job and away from the workplace,” according to the law’s text. This means, for example, that an employer may not fire an employee who used cannabis use when they were off the job and away from work. Hiring decisions will be limited in this manner as well.
The law will not apply to workers in building and construction trades or those holding positions that require a federal background clearance. Also, the bill will not permit employees to possess, to be impaired by, or to use, cannabis on the job.
Governor Newsom’s signing of the bill represents a huge victory for many of California’s workers. Even though recreational cannabis has been legal in the state since 2018, and medicinal cannabis has been legal since 1996, California’s laws and cannabis testing technology are only just beginning to catch up. Standard drug tests still screen for substances in the body that may be present days or even weeks since an individual used cannabis. This means that, before AB 2188 takes effect, a worker or job applicant could still be fired or denied employment for having used cannabis during their own free time, weeks prior to any test being administered.
Some employer-side attorneys have suggested that AB 2188 inappropriately amends California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to afford cannabis users the same protections as minorities or other protected classes. Ms. Teukolsky counters that notion. As stated in the Bloomberg Law article:
“[D]iscipline against those who smoke or ingest marijuana disproportionately affects workers of color, said Lauren Teukolsky, who represents workers in court. It was one of the reasons Amazon.com Inc. stopped drug testing during the hiring process. The new law shielding marijuana consumers ‘is entirely consistent with FEHA’s aim of eliminating discrimination against people of color in the workplace,’ Teukolsky said in an email.”
To read the Bloomberg Law Article in its entirety, click here. If you believe your employer is behaving unlawfully and want to get in touch with Teukolsky Law, click here.
Governor Newsom Signs Groundbreaking Bill to Raise Wages and Improve Working Conditions for Fast Food Workers
On Labor Day, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 257 into law. The bill, also known as the FAST Recovery Act, is aimed at raising wages and improving the working conditions of California’s more than 550,000 fast-food workers by establishing a new state council with the power to set state-wide minimum standards for the fast-food industry.
The 10-member council will consist of political appointees from state health and labor agencies, as well as food industry officials, fast food workers, and union representatives. It will have the authority to raise the minimum wage for industry workers up to $22/hour and issue new safety and anti-discrimination rules. The standards set by the council would apply to any chain in California that has at least 100 stores nationwide that share a common brand.
AB 257 also improves the collective bargaining power of fast-food workers across California. Currently, wages and conditions in the U.S. are typically negotiated between workers and management at individual companies, often location by location. In these settings, workers frequently lack leverage against their employer. However, under AB 257, fast-food workers throughout California will have representatives negotiating on their behalf to set industry-wide standards.
Teukolsky Law would like to congratulate all the fast-food workers, unions, and labor allies that fought and advocated for AB 257. If you are a fast-food worker and believe your employer has violated the law, click here to get in touch with Teukolsky Law.
Lauren Teukolsky to Speak at College of Labor and Employment LawYERS Program Panel on Supreme Court’s decision in Viking River
Lauren Teukolsky has been invited to speak on the issues raised by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana on a panel at the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers (CLEL) Ninth Circuit South regional program. The panel discussion will take place Saturday, September 10th in San Diego. Ms. Teukolsky and her co-panelist, George S. Howard, Jr. of Paul Plevin, will discuss the impact of Viking on PAGA cases, and provide practical advice for attorneys facing Viking issues.
Ms. Teukolsky has fought to protect employee’s rights for over 20 years and is a frequent speaker at conferences on topics of employment law and litigation. She previously discussed the implications of Viking River on a panel for CELA, a statewide organization that works to protect and expand the legal rights of workers. She is also frequently cited in news publications for her commentary on developments in the field and was most recently quoted in a June Bloomberg Law article on the Supreme Court’s decision in Viking River. To learn more about Ms. Teukolsky’s experience, click here.
CLEL is a distinguished body of individuals drawing its membership from the best and brightest lawyers, academics, and scholars in the field of labor and employment Law. After a rigorous selection process, Ms. Teukolsky was elected a CLEL Fellow this past July.
Last month, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals broadened legal protections for transgender workers, ruling in Williams v. Kincaid that gender dysphoria is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the Court’s decision, employers in the Fourth Circuit (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) must provide reasonable accommodations to employees suffering from gender dysphoria. Such accommodations might include offering leave for medical procedures or hormone therapy, as well as modifications to workplace bathroom or dress-code policies.
The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment and access to government services. According to the American Psychiatric Association, gender dysphoria describes an uncomfortable conflict between a person's assigned gender and the gender with which the person identifies.
William v. Kincaid involved Kesha Williams, a trans woman with gender dysphoria who was assigned to men’s housing in a Virginia prison. Williams experienced delays in medical treatment for her gender dysphoria, harassment by other inmates, and persistent and intentional misgendering and harassment by prison deputies. Williams sued several individuals associated with the prison, alleging that their treatment of her was a violation of the ADA. Her claim was dismissed by a district court, but the Fourth Circuit reversed and held that the ADA did not exclude protections for individuals with gender dysphoria, citing the medical community’s updated understanding of gender dysphoria since the passage of the ADA.
Even though the Fourth Circuit’s decision is binding law only in its constituent states, some legal experts have said that the Court’s decision will be relied on by courts outside the Fourth Circuit. Still, many observers believe that other federal appeals courts will rule differently than Williams in the future, leading to a circuit split that could only be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Teukolsky Law has handled numerous employment cases on behalf of transgender individuals, including cases where the employer has failed to provide accommodations for employees undergoing hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery. Contact Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.