Two New Laws. One Imposes Criminal Penalties!
New Law Imposes Criminal Penalties on Employers!
On October 10, 2013, Governor Brown signed SB 390 into law to amend Labor Code Section 227. As a result, effective January 1, 2014, Californian Law prohibits employers from failing to make agreed-upon payments to health and welfare funds, pension funds, or various benefit plans. This new legislation will make it a crime for an employer to fail to remit withholdings from an employee’s wages that were made pursuant to state, local, or federal law.
More specifically, the new law allows the Labor Commissioner to pursue a criminal misdemeanor charge against employers who do not remit payroll taxes. Furthermore, it provides that it is illegal for an employer to wilfully or with the intent to defraud, or fail to remit withholdings from an employee’s wages pursuant to local, state, federal law to the proper agency. If the employer fails to remit $500.00 or more in wage withholdings, the violation is a misdemeanor that is punishable by imprisonment and a fine of not more than $1,000.00.
New Law adds Military and Veteran Status to list of protected Characteristics.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employment discrimination by employers with 5 or more employees. It protects the right and opportunity of all persons who seek or obtain employment from discrimination based upon race, religion, color, national origin, disability, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age or sexual orientation, marital status, and genetic information/characteristics.
Governor Brown was very busy in October and signed AB 556 into law effective January 1, 2014. The new law added a new protected category based on “Military and Veteran Status.” The bill provides that employers cannot discriminate against military personnel or veterans which also includes reservists. This is where employers can get into trouble.
Employers will have to be extremely careful with employees requesting time away for weekend reserve request, the two week commitment every year, temporary calls for active duty, and having a position for them when they return. There are also federal laws to protect returning veterans. Be patient and do not assume or second guess requests. You are permitted to ask for documentation to support any time off.