Articles Posted in Employment

AdobeStock_423161698-300x200Running a business is complicated in the COVID era, especially if you run a business in California. After California reopened its economy in June 2021, employers have had to make sure they comply with all applicable state laws, local ordinances, and rules to stay open and avoid hefty fines.

Below we have highlighted some of the most significant COVID-related employment laws that apply to businesses and employers in California in 2021.

AB 685: COVID Reporting Requirements

AdobeStock_360784031-300x200Registration of securities is a legal requirement that costs investment funds time and money. It is important to stay compliant with all applicable securities laws, so if registration is not financially or logistically feasible, be sure that you have a recognized exemption from the registration requirement. These exempt offerings are designated as “EB-5” under United States securities laws. EB-5 is also a designation used for the visa a foreign investor must obtain in order to invest in an EB-5 fund. EB-5 investments are also called private placements or unregistered offerings. Learn more about some of the common legal issues that arise with EB-5 offerings, as well as how investors and offering companies can protect themselves from financial and legal liabilities in relation to them.

Relying On Exemptions From Registration From Securities Laws

SEC Rules 504, 505, and 506 establish exemptions from the registration requirement for certain securities. These rules specify how much equity may be sold by an offering entity in a twelve-month period, how much money may be raised, and whether the investors must be accredited in order to maintain the offering’s eligibility for exemption from the registration requirement. These rules also specify the manner of advertising that may be used for the offering. Each of these rules provides specific legal guidelines that must be met exactly. Failure to meet the exemption requirements can subject a business to fines, penalties, legal liability, and administrative requirements (such as limits of offering securities in the future).

AdobeStock_280928050-300x200As with every new year, 2021 has brought changes to the law that can affect your business. California business owners must stay up to date on the legal changes that can affect their liabilities. The experienced business attorneys at Structure Law Group are here to help you understand all potential liabilities your business could face and develop an effective strategy for mitigating these risks.

New Code of Civil Procedure Statutes Enacted For 2021

The Code of Civil Procedure has been amended to include three new specific sections related to the discovery process. Section 2031.280(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure is amended so that parties responding to an inspection demand may no longer produce documents “as they are kept in the usual course of business.”  Instead, when produced, the documents “shall be identified with the specific request number to which the documents respond.” This can add extensive administrative labor to reorganize documents and produce them as requested.

AdobeStock_392831851-300x200COVID-19 has created significant issues when it comes to workplace safety, and lawmakers are racing to implement rules based on changing circumstances of the pandemic while attempting to balance the interests of employers and employees. While Congress has engaged in protracted and fierce debate over economic relief packages, state and federal agencies have been much quicker to act on safety rules –  and to enact the emergency authority necessary to enforce these rules. Employers in California must be aware of these rules and the immediate actions they require. Here are some of the most basic safety rules that have been enacted to protect California employees from the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace:

What the New Rules Require

Cal/OSHA has adopted emergency rules that require employers to protect their employees from the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. These rules require employers to:

AdobeStock_170059060-300x200Even with all the unexpected challenges of 2020, the California State Legislature still passed employment laws that will take effect in 2021. If employers do not change their employment practices to adhere to the new laws, they can face liability in an employment lawsuit or administrative sanctions from state agencies such as the Labor Commissioner. Learn more about some of the many changes that will take effect in 2021:

COVID-19 Laws

It should be no surprise that many of these new laws address the immediate safety concerns presented by the coronavirus pandemic. As noted by the California Chamber of Commerce, two bills took effect immediately upon signing in September 2020. The first expands supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19-related reasons for certain employers not already covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The second creates a rebuttable workers’ compensation presumption for workers that contract COVID-19 under certain conditions. The law requires employers to report COVID-19 cases to their workers’ compensation carriers.

AdobeStock_252763744-300x200In November 2020, California voters approved what is arguably the most comprehensive privacy rights law in the nation. The California Privacy Rights Act does not take effect until January 1, 2023. But its requirements are far-reaching, and California business owners have a lot of work to do to prepare their businesses for compliance with the law before that date. Moreover, violations of the new Act prior to 2023 can cause bad public relations and potential liability in other areas. Business owners should meet with a California lawyer now to determine how the new law will affect their business, what steps must be taken, and the most efficient process for implementing these measures as soon as possible. The sooner these changes are integrated into a company’s practices and culture, the less likely it is the business will face liability under the Act.

Corporate Responsibilities Under the California Privacy Rights Act

The CPRA requires businesses to track an entirely new category of user data: “sensitive personal information.” This includes government-issued identifiers, finance information, biometric data, health status, precise geolocation, contents of emails or texts, and race or ethnic origin. Sensitive personal information is a subcategory of personal information that is protected under existing privacy laws. This means that it, too, must be de-identified or subject to an aggregation exception. The CPRA adds an additional requirement for businesses to implement “reasonable security measures” to protect personal information. What measures are “reasonable” will be determined by the type of information that is collected. Detailed financial or medical records will likely require higher levels of security than basic demographic information. Retention periods must also be updated to meet only what is reasonably necessary to perform the purposes for which the data was collected. This means that sensitive personal information might have a shorter retention policy than more general personal information.

AdobeStock_168271721-300x200Most business owners are aware that they must comply with minimum wage laws. However, what is less well known is that there can be different regulations made by a state, county, or even a municipal government. Even more confusing is that these regulations can change, and the changes can take effect at different times of the year. Working with a Silicon Valley business lawyer ensures your compliance with all current wage laws and prevents costly employment disputes in the future.

State Minimum Wage Changes

The California state legislature sets the state minimum wage. The wage policy is frequently reviewed, with annual changes generally taking effect on January 1 of the next calendar year. California’s statewide minimum wage is currently $13 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $12 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. According to the Department of Industrial Relations, California law currently requires an increase in the minimum wage every year, making it important for employers to check every annual change in order to keep current with their legal obligations.

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The coronavirus pandemic has drastically affected the American workplace. Throughout the country, employees are working from home, and companies are radically changing the way they get business done. Many of these creative solutions are changing California businesses for the better. Existing employment laws still apply to the new workplace. As an employer, you need to be aware of certain issues that could expose you to liability.

Scheduling Changes

Many companies have been forced to lay off workers or reduce hours to stay in business. Before you make any decisions about firing or layoffs, you should be aware of the potential legal consequences of doing so. Employees who have a written employment contract or are part of a union may have protections against these actions, even in the unprecedented circumstances of a global pandemic. Even changing shifts or job responsibilities could trigger the provisions of such a contract. Consult with an employment lawyer before implementing changes that could expose your business to liability.

AdobeStock_359915477-300x200Existing employee safety laws can be applied to workers who are exposed to the coronavirus. While it is not yet clear exactly how insurance companies and courts will treat these claims, what is clear is that employers must take precautions to mitigate their liability for COVID-19 exposure in the workplace.

How to Minimize Your Liability for Exposure

In almost every type of civil case, the defendant’s conduct is measured against a standard of reasonable behavior. There are a few instances of strict liability, in which the defendant is liable no matter how reasonable their behavior, but these are limited to inherently dangerous scenarios that are clearly defined under existing torts law.

eb5-300x200The EB-5 program is a citizenship program that was established in 1990. It was designed to stimulate the American economy by attracting foreign nationals to work and invest in the United States. The EB-5 program can benefit employees and investors by creating a path to obtain citizenship. It can also benefit businesses by allowing them to act as “regional centers” that offer investment opportunities in new commercial areas.

Qualifying Employees for the EB-5 Program

The path to citizenship for individuals is usually based on either (1) a family relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent residence, (2) humanitarian grounds such as asylum, or (3) employment status with a company engaging in business within the United States. Within the employment category, there are many different options for visas and citizenship. The EB-5 program is designed for investors, not employees, but there are many other options for obtaining lawful immigration status for your employees. Visit the USCIS website to learn more about employment visas for your workers.