New Laws for 2016

An examination of the new laws for 2016 reveals: 1) challenges for employers; 2) relief for cheerleaders; 3) more reasons to go to the farmers market; and 4) scratching of the
head as to the wisdom or need for some legislation.

In an effort to enforce equal pay for both genders, the Legislature amended section 1197.5 of the state’s Labor Code. The law used to be an employer had to pay women at
the same rate as men doing “equal work.”

But what’s “equal work?” Two second-year attorneys, one male and one female, should be paid the same – that’s relatively straightforward.

But what about pay for the manager of the human resources department (female) and the manager of the accounting department (male) working for a midsized manufacturer?
Same pay or can there be differences?

Until Jan. 1, 2016, employers could easily justify paying the man more than the woman, mainly because the two people were in different jobs.

Now, as Ricky used to say to Lucy, employers “are going to have some ‘splaining to do.” Women who are doing “substantially similar work” as their male counterparts must be
paid the same as the men. Employers can still rely on factors such as seniority, merit, or the quality or quantity produced by the worker to have a pay differential. But don’t rely
on these.

Under the same law, employees can discuss their pay with other employees, and the Labor Commissioner will adjudicate any perceived disparities.

And to motivate employees to complain, the Labor Code provides that successful employees will recover not only their unequal pay, but also attorney fees to bring the
challenge. So employers are well-advised to have their pay structure closely examined to make sure they’re compliant with the new law.

Under another new law, you might feel some sympathy for those poor billionaire owners of sport teams. They’re used to treating their cheerleaders as independent contractors.
Many of these women claim that it costs them more money to do the cheers than what the owners pay them.

Now the women are the teams’ employees, eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, to be paid at least the minimum wage, and for the teams to pay for their
uniforms and their job-related expenses. So the Raiders face not only the costs of moving to Los Angeles, but also paying more for the services of the Raiderettes.

Expect to see throngs at Farmers Markets in the future.

Craft breweries had recently been permitted to sell beer at your local farmers market, but there was a general reluctance to apply for a sales permit because no tasting was allowed.

Well, that’s changed as of Jan. 1.

Now the beer manufacturers can offer “an instructional tasting event on the subject of beer” at the markets. You know, I’ve often felt that a void in my 17 years of education
was a real grasp of how to taste beer. I wonder if I could get a student loan to finance my schooling in this important discipline.

As for the head scratching about why some laws were even introduced: a) hover boards (you know those toys that spontaneously combust) are allowed to use bike paths and
lanes, and b) limousine windows must be able to be pushed out in cases of emergencies. Boy, I feel safer already. 

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