Archives for September 15, 2020

California Expands COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave

Earlier this year, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-51-20, which we discuss in our blog here. The order provided paid sick leave for food s workers at large employers (over 500 employees). On September 9, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1867, which, among other things, codifies the executive order’s language, with some modifications, creating new California Labor Code §248. The bill also provides paid sick leave requirements for other large employers, creating a new California Labor Code §248.1.

Like Executive Order N-51-20, Labor Code §248 provides paid sick leave for food sector workers who work for an employer with 500 or more employees. These workers may receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave if they are unable to work for one of the three following qualifying reasons: (1) The food sector worker is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; (2) The food sector worker is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19; or (3) The food sector worker is prohibited from working by the food sector worker’s hiring entity due to health concerns related to the potential transmission of COVID-19. The law will apply until December 31, 2020 or the end date for benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), whichever is later.

With respect to Labor Code §248.1, it provides for paid sick leave to other private hiring entities with 500 or more employees. Except for food sector workers covered under Labor Code §248, this section covers all other employees, including healthcare providers and emergency responders (who may be excluded under the FFCRA). Employees may use paid sick leave for the same reasons identified above under Labor Code §248. Notably, paid sick leave under Labor Code §248.1 must be provided in addition to any paid sick leave available to a worker under California’s pre-COVID-19 Healthy Workplaces, Health Families Act of 2014 (“HWHFA”), which already requires at least three days of paid sick leave. Further, Labor Code §248.1 prohibits employers from requiring its workers to use other paid or unpaid leave, time off, or vacation time that the employer provides before, or in lieu of, using paid leave under Labor Code §248.1. Employers are also required to itemize the amount of leave available on employees’ itemized wage statements.

Moreover, under the new laws, employers cannot require, as a condition of using leave, that workers search for or find replacement workers to cover the days they use leave. Similarly, a subject employer cannot deny a worker the right to use leave, discharge, threaten to discharge, demote, suspend, or in any manner discriminate against a worker for using leave, attempting to exercise the right to use leave, filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner, cooperating in an investigation of an alleged violation of the laws, and/or for opposing any policy, practice, or act that the laws prohibit.

Finally, AB 1867 added Health and Safety Code §113963, which allows food sector worker employees permission to wash their hands every 30 minutes and additionally as needed.

If you feel your employer has violated your paid leave rights, you may be able to hold the company accountable for damages and penalties.

For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with an attorney who can help, contact Haeggquist & Eck, LLP online or call us at (619) 342-8000.

Can I Be Fired For Complaining About a Lack of Safety Precautions At Work?

As we slowly transition from the new normal back to the old normal, we cannot forget that we are still very much in the midst of a global pandemic. Although cases have waned in California (for now), our state still tallies thousands of new cases every day. As we learned in June, this is not the time to throw caution to the wind.

Unfortunately, your employer might not feel the same way. Many people are coming back to work and finding that their employers are not following the Federal and State-mandated precautions. Although these workers don’t feel comfortable in such a dangerous work setting, they also don’t feel comfortable stirring the pot and risk losing their jobs. After all, their employers might already be struggling after months of shutdowns, and an added safety complaint might cause their employer to retaliate. Fortunately, employees who bring these safety concerns to their employer are protected from retaliation under California law.

California Labor Code §6310 prohibits retaliation against any employee who makes “any oral or written complaint to … his or her employer” relating to the employee’s health or safety.[1] Employees who prevail on a retaliation claim under §6310 are entitled to reinstatement and back pay, and these claims may be brought as a private right of action. Simply put, California employees can make complaints to their employers about health and safety concerns without fearing losing their job over this complaint. If they are terminated, they can file a lawsuit, and if successful, can be reinstated back in their position and receive backpay. Even if the complaint is not based on an actual health and safety violation, employees are still protected, so long as they complain in good faith about their working conditions.[2]

If an employee blows the whistle to a government or law enforcement agency, or anyone “with authority over the employee” regarding a safety violation under law, such as violating the State’s executive orders relating to COVID-19, workers are further protected from retaliation under California Labor Code §1102.5(b). Similarly, Labor Code 1102.5(a) prohibits employers from preventing their employees from disclosing safety concerns which the employee reasonably believes to be a violation of law.

California law provides many protections for employees who do not feel safe at work. While we all want to go back to normal, we must all recognize that COVID-19 is still here and we must remain vigilant. Fortunately, concerned employees are protected from retaliation.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

Haeggquist & Eck, LLP is here to help employees fight for their rights if they experienced retaliation for speaking up about unsafe or unsanitary working conditions. If you were punished for speaking up about not feeling safe at work, especially within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may be able to help you fight for fair and just compensation.

Reach out to our attorneys today for a free consultation by contacting us online or calling (619) 342-8000.



[1] See Cal. Lab. Code §6310(a)(1).

[2] Hentzel v. Singer Co., 138 Cal. App. 3d, 290, 299-300 (1982).

Do I Have Any Rights Relating To How Companies Use My Personally Identifiable Information?

What is Considered Private Information on the Internet?

Internet privacy involves how your personally identifiable information (“PII”) is handled by online companies, including how the companies acquire, store, sell, display, disclose, and otherwise use your PII.

PII refers to any information that can be used to identify you, such as age, physical address, name, birthdate, social security number, etc. Other forms of PII may also include non-specific identifiers such as GPS tracking data used by apps and software to track your behavior while visiting websites.

How is my Information being gathered by companies on the Internet?

Your PII is being gathered from the internet in various ways. For example, when you make an online purchase, many companies are storing your information from the online forms used to make the purchase. Same thing when you book a service using the internet. The companies then use your PII to target you with additional advertisements on similar products or services, and/or sell your PII to other companies.

In addition, there are companies that track which websites you visit and then use the information to send you advertisements based on your web browsing history. Similarly, companies are using your online presence to observe your behavior, such as browsing logs, search queries, and contents of social media profiles. Companies also “scrape” the internet to gather information about you, such as your photos for facial recognition. This data gathering, however, creates significant privacy concerns. Fortunately, as stated below, several laws provide you with remedies if a company misuses your PII.

What can I do if a company sold my private information without my consent or failed to keep my private information secure?

Several laws provide you with a right to privacy and control over your PII. For example, in order to provide you with greater privacy protections, among other things, most large organizations are required to:

  1. Inform you about when and how your data is collected and give you the right to access, correct, and delete information;
  2. Implement and maintain reasonable data security measures;
  3. Publish privacy policies and follow those policies;
  4. Obtain your consent prior to collecting, processing, using, sharing, or disclosing your PII; and
  5. Timely notify you of a data breach affecting your PII.


Similarly, organizations are not allowed to obtain or use your biometric information, such as your faceprint (from a photograph) or your fingerprint, without your express consent.

If you feel an organization has mishandled your PII in any way, you may be able to hold the company accountable for damages and penalties.

For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with an attorney who can help, contact Haeggquist & Eck, LLP online or call us at (619) 342-8000.

Can I Be Fired For Requesting an Accommodation To Take Care of Children Who Are Now At Home?

Under the newly enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), some employees are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of continuous or intermittent leave to care for their child because their child’s school has shut down and such employees cannot be fired for taking such leave.

The FFCRA requires private employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide employees who have been employed for more than 30 days with up to 12 weeks of Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) leave if the employee cannot come to work, or telework, to care for a minor child whose school or child care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19. Section 5104 of the FFCRA prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining, or discriminating against employees who take this type of leave under the FFCRA.

California law also requires employers who employ more than 25 employees to provide up to 40 hours of leave to parents, guardians, stepparents, foster parents and grandparents, who give advance notice to their employer, to care for their children during a “school emergency.” A “school emergency” includes when a child cannot return to school due to a “national disaster….” One could reasonably argue the pandemic qualifies as a “national disaster,” requiring an additional 40 hours of leave on top of the leave provided under the FFCRA. Importantly, California employers are prohibited for discharging or discriminating against their employees for taking this type of leave.

If Your Employer Has More Than 500 Employees

For employees working for employers with more than 500 employees, an employer is not required to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee simply because an employee’s child’s school is closed under the FFCRA. While Federal and California law require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant or disabled employees, an employer is not required to provide a reasonable accommodation for employees to take care of their children just because schools or daycares have closed. Accordingly, there are no legal grounds to request this type of “reasonable accommodation” and therefore the law does not protect employees from being fired for requesting this accommodation.

If, however, an employee’s child suffers from a serious medical condition, where the parent must stay home to care for the child’s condition, the employee may be able to request an accommodation under the FMLA or under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) based on the employee’s association with her disabled child.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

If you have any questions about your specific rights to leave, please feel free to contact Haeggquist & Eck, LLP for more information and to arrange a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Get in touch with us today by filling out our online contact form or calling (619) 342-8000 for help.

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