The Families First Act: The Federal Government’s Response to COVID-19

In response to the escalating spread of the COVID-19 virus, and to reduce the impact of the virus on families and the economy, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  Known as the Families First Act, the law creates expanded employee benefits and protections related to COVID-19, including a new federal paid sick leave law, an emergency expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and expanded unemployment insurance provisions.

The Families First Act provides the following:

  1. Expanded unemployment benefits through larger federal grants to the states to process and pay unemployment claims.
  2. Healthcare plans, including high-deductible health plans, to provide for COVID-19 testing at no cost. These include diagnostic testing and the visit to the provider, including visits to an urgent care or emergency room. This law also includes a waiver of Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Advantage and CHIP cost-sharing for these tests. In conjunction with previously-issued IRS guidance, a participant in a high-deductible health plan receiving this benefit would still be eligible to contribute to a Health Savings Account on a tax-advantaged basis.
  3. Expanded food assistance and unemployment benefits through supplemental appropriations for health programs. This includes the WIC program, Commodity Assistance Program, Community Living Aging and Disability Program, MEALS and SNAP. Additionally, if a school is closed for at least five (5) consecutive days, each household with an eligible child can receive assistance under a state agency plan.
  4. Employers with 500 or fewer employees and government employers must provide up to twelve (12) weeks of job-protected Emergency Family and Medical Leave for a “qualifying need related to a public health emergency.” The law limits the definition of a qualifying need to caring for a son or daughter under age 19 if their school or place of care has been closed or the child care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency.
  5. Employers with 500 or fewer employees and government employers must provide Emergency Paid Sick Leave to employees due to any of the following reasons: (a) To quarantine because the employee is diagnosed with coronavirus; (b) To seek a diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus; (c) To comply with a recommendation or order by a public official with jurisdiction or healthcare provider on the basis that the physical presence of the employee would jeopardize the health of others due to exposure of the employee to coronavirus or exhibition of symptoms by the employee; or (d) To care for a family member for such purposes or to care for a child whose school has closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to the coronavirus. Full-time employees are entitled to ten (10) days of paid sick leave and part-time employees are entitled to the typical number of hours that they work in typical two-week period, which shall be paid at two-thirds of the employees regular rate.
  6. The sick leave amount is calculated based on the employee’s “required compensation” (i.e., the largest of (i) regular rate of pay, (ii) federal minimum wage, or (iii) local minimum wage) multiplied by the number of hours normally scheduled to work, but capped at (i) $511 per day ($5,110 in total) for those described above in items a-c; and (ii) $200 per day ($2,000 in total) for item d.
  7. Paid Leave is calculated for an employee at an amount not less than 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay (using the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938) multiplied by the number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work. This amount of required paid leave cannot exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in total for an employee.
  8. The law funds the Paid Sick Leave and Paid Family and Medical Leave for employers (including tax-exempt employers) through a refundable credit against payroll taxes. Self-employed taxpayers can receive a benefit through a refundable credit against income taxes for periods during which work cannot be done.

If you have any questions regarding the Families First Act, contact Dias Law Firm, Inc. for a consultation.

By: Steven E. Alfieris, Esq., and

By: Vanessa M. Freitas, Certified Law Clerk

_C0C4039

For attorneys: This Blog/Web Site is informational in nature and is not a substitute for legal research or a consultation on specific matters pertaining to your clients. Due to the dynamic nature of legal doctrines, what might be accurate one day may be inaccurate the next. As such, the contents of this blog must not be relied upon as a basis for arguments to a court or for your advice to clients without, again, further research or a consultation with our professionals.

For the general public: This Blog/Web Site is made available by the law firm publisher, Dias Law Firm, Inc., for educational purposes. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law, but does not provide specific legal advice. By using this site, commenting on posts, or sending inquiries through the site or contact email, you confirm that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

Photo Credential: ID 176317742 © Pixelrobot | Dreamstime.com

Owner Liability for Dog Bites in California

Many of us have dogs, and we love them as if they were a part of our families.  As pet owners, we are responsible for our pets.  California is a strict liability state for dog bites.  This means that an owner cannot escape liability by claiming that he or she did not know that the dog could be dangerous or that they took care to prevent the animal from hurting someone.  As such, subject to certain exceptions, Civil Code section 3342 provides that the owner of a dog is strictly liable to a person who has been bitten and was either in a public place or “lawfully in a private place” when the bite occurred.  Therefore, an owner may be responsible for all damages resulting from a dog bite, even if the dog has not previously bitten anyone.

There are several exceptions to a dog owner’s strict liability pursuant to Civil Code section 3342.  A dog owner who can show one of the following exceptions can avoid being held strictly liable for his or her dog’s bite:

            (1)       The victim was trespassing;

            (2)       The dog was a law enforcement or military animal if the bite(s) occurred while the animal was defending itself from being annoyed, harassed, or provoked in the apprehension or holding of suspect, in investigating a crime or possible crime, in executing a warrant, and in the defense of a peace officer or other person;

            (3)       The person being sued is not the owner of the dog;

            (4)       The victim assumed the risk of being bitten, the “Veterinarian’s Rule”, which is a defense to strict liability, applies to veterinarians and kennel workers, who undertake these occupations knowing, foreseeing, and accepting that there is a risk of being bitten; or

            (5)       Comparative fault, another defense to strict liability, wherein the victim is partially at fault for the dog bite if he or she annoyed, harassed, provoked, struck, or hurt the dog that bit them.

It is important to point out here that strict liability above applies only to dog bites.  The strict liability statute mentioned above will not help victims who were injured by dogs who did not bite them.  For example, a person who is walking on the sidewalk and a dog jumps on him causing him to fall and hurt himself.  The injured person may be able to receive compensation in that situation if he can prove that the injuries he sustained were the result of the negligence of the dog owner in preventing the harm or that the owner knew or should have known of the dog’s viciousness.

If you have any questions regarding dog bites, please contact Dias Law Firm, Inc.

By: Ella R. Floresca, Esq.

1Z4A9360

For the general public: This Blog/Web Site is made available by the law firm publisher, Dias Law Firm, Inc., for educational purposes. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law, but does not provide specific legal advice. By using this site, commenting on posts, or sending inquiries through the site or contact email, you confirm that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

For attorneys: This Blog/Web Site is informational in nature and is not a substitute for legal research or a consultation on specific matters pertaining to your clients. Due to the dynamic nature of legal doctrines, what might be accurate one day may be inaccurate the next. As such, the contents of this blog must not be relied upon as a basis for arguments to a court or for your advice to clients without, again, further research or a consultation with our professionals.

Overview of Recent Changes in Employment Law in California for 2020

ID 121901332 © Bakhtiar Zein Dreamstime.com

Dias Law Firm, Inc. assists employers in keeping compliant with the numerous laws affecting and regulating employment practices and policies.  Several notable labor and employment laws became effective on January 1, 2020.  Below are the highlights of several laws every employer in California should be aware.

California’s Minimum Wages and Exempt Salary Thresholds Increased

The minimum wage for California employees increased from $12 per hour to $13 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees.  Accordingly, the exempt annual salary threshold for these employees increased from $49,920 to $54,080.  For employers with up to 25 employees, the minimum wage increased from $11 per hour to $12 per hour, with the exempt annual salary threshold increased from $45,760 to $49,920.

SB 188 – The CROWN Act – “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair” Act Extends Race Discrimination Protections to Hair Associated with Race

SB 188, known as the CROWN Act, amended Section 212.1 of the California Education Code and Section 12926 of the California Government Code to expand the definition of “Race” to include traits historically associated with race.  These include hair texture and “protective hairstyles.”  The term “protective hairstyles” is defined to include, but not limited to, “braids, locks, and twists.”  Accordingly, workplace dress codes and grooming policies may not prohibit such hairstyles.  Otherwise, any such dress codes/grooming policies are deemed discriminatory under the law on the basis of race.

AB 9 – The Statute of Limitations for Filing Complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment Has Been Extended From One Year to Three Years

A current or former employee may file a timely complaint under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) up to three (3) years after the alleged unlawful activity.  Previously, a complainant was required to file a verified complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within one (1) year from the date upon which the alleged unlawful conduct occurred.  Subject to certain exceptions, AB 9 extended the timeframe to three (3) years.

SB 778 – Harassment-Prevention Training Compliance Deadline Extended to January 1, 2021, for Smaller Employers and Nonsupervisory Employees

FEHA requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all management and supervisory employees within six (6) months of the placement in the management/supervisory position and, in addition, retraining is also required once every two years.

SB 1343, which was passed in the 2017-2018 legislative session, extended training requirements to small employers and to nonsupervisory employees.  More specifically, the bill required that by January 1, 2020, employers with five or more employees provide at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to supervisory employees, and at least one hour of sexual harassment prevention training to nonsupervisory employees within six months of their placement in such a position.  SB 778 extends this compliance date to January 1, 2021.  This law clarifies that an employer, which has provided the training in 2019, is covered for two years thereafter. Talk to a lawyer from this site https://www.wilkeywilson.com/workerscomp.html.

AB 673 – Employees May Now Recover Statutory Penalties for Employer’s Late Payment of Wages

Previously, Labor Code section 210 provided that only the Labor Commissioner may recover civil penalties for employer violations of Labor Code sections 201.3, 204, 204b, 204.1, 204.2, 205, 205.5, and 1197.5, including the late payment of wages during employment.  AB 673 amended Labor Code section 210 to allow employees to sue employers directly for statutory penalties for violations of the aforementioned Labor Code sections at the following rates:

1) for any initial violation, $100 for each failure to pay each employee; and

2) for each subsequent violation, or any willful or intentional violation, $200 for each failure to pay each employee, plus 25 percent of the amount unlawfully withheld.

AB 673 specifies that an employee may only recover either statutory penalties under Labor Code Section 210, or civil penalties under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) for the same violation(s).  In other words, double recovery of penalties arising from the same Labor Code violation is not permitted.

By: Steven E. Alfieris, Esq.

For the general public: This Blog/Web Site is made available by the law firm publisher, Dias Law Firm, Inc., for educational purposes. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law, but does not provide specific legal advice. By using this site, commenting on posts, or sending inquiries through the site or contact email, you confirm that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

For attorneys: This Blog/Web Site is informational in nature and is not a substitute for legal research or a consultation on specific matters pertaining to your clients. Due to the dynamic nature of legal doctrines, what might be accurate one day may be inaccurate the next. As such, the contents of this blog must not be relied upon as a basis for arguments to a court or for your advice to clients without, again, further research or a consultation with our professionals.

Overview of Recent Changes in Landlord-Tenant Laws in California for 2020

In 2020, new protections will be afforded to California renters.  On January 1, 2020, new laws became effective that limit the landlord’s ability to increase rent or evict certain tenants, and also prohibit landlords from discriminating against renters who use public housing vouchers.  Assembly Bill 1482, which is referred to as the “California Tenant Protection Act”, will remain in effect until January 1, 2030, and addresses the following:

I.          RENT CONTROL PROVISIONS

Civil Code section 1947.12 provides rent control so that landlords are limited in how much they can raise the rent every year.  The section prohibits increasing the annual rent more than the cost of living for that locality plus five percent, up to a maximum increase of ten percent of the prior rent.  Additionally, rent may only be raised once over any 12-month period.  It is important to note that this section does not override more restrictive city and county rent controls, but it might apply to units they do not cover.  Civil Code section 1947.13 also governs a unit’s transition from a form of publicly assisted housing (but not rentals subsidized by a Section 8 voucher) to market rate housing.  It is important to note that this section does not affect private, for profit landlords.

II.         REQUIRED JUST-CAUSE EVICTIONS AND RELOCATION ASSISTANCE/RENT WAIVER

Section 1946.2(c) requires that if the eviction is based on a curable violation (e.g. non-payment of rent), the landlord must provide the renter with notice of the violation, setting forth the time period in which to cure the violation.  If the violation is not cured within the time period provided in the notice, a 3-day notice to quit without the opportunity to cure may be served to terminate the tenancy.  If the tenant does not vacate the unit by the date of the notice to quit, the owner may move toward an Unlawful Detainer in a court of law.

Further, Section 1946.2(d)(1) provides that tenants who have occupied their rental unit for at least 12 months must be compensated with relocation payments or waivers equal to a month’s rent if they are evicted without just cause.  The relocation fee must be equal to one month of the renter’s rent in effect as of the date that the notice of termination of tenancy was issued.  The relocation fee must be paid to the renter within 15 calendar days of the service of notice of termination of tenancy.  If the landlord chooses to provide a rent waiver, it must be equal to one month of the renter’s rent in effect as of the date that the notice of termination of tenancy was issued.  A written waiver of the payment of the last month’s rent must be provided to the renter prior to the rent due date.  In the event that the landlord fails to pay relocation assistance or provide a rent waiver, the notice of termination of tenancy is void.

III.        EXEMPTIONS TO JUST CAUSE LIMITATIONS AND RENT CONTROL

A few types of housing are exempt from just cause limitations, rent control, or both, which is not covered by the new law.  The exemptions turn on technical factors, such as who owns the property, whether the owner lives in the unit in which the tenant also lives, and whether the owner lives in a self-contained dwelling unit but shares the property with tenants who live in their own self-contained units.  The applicable exemptions are described below.

Section 1946.2(e) sets forth the properties and situations that are exempt from just cause restrictions, which includes, but is not limited to, transient and tourist hotel occupancy, housing accommodations in a nonprofit hospital, religious facility, licensed residential care facility for the elder, dormitories owned and operated by an institution of higher education or a kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, school, and single-family homes and condominiums, single-family homes, and other properties that are “separately alienable from title” if the owner is not a real estate investment trust, a corporation, or a limited liability company in which at least member is a corporation and the owner provided written notice that the residential property is exempt.  The latter exemption is the most applicable in my local practice.  Thus, in order to take advantage of it, the title must be held by a natural person, a partnership or limited liability company owned by natural persons, or another form of natural person, such as a revocable trust for individuals.  The exemption does not apply to corporately held property, such as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”), a corporation, or a limited liability company with corporation members.

Properties and situations that are exempt from rent control restrictions include, but are not limited to, housing subject to more restrictive rent control ordinances and new construction housing that was issued a certificate of occupancy within the previous 15 years.  Additional properties and situations exempt from rent control restrictions are set forth in Civil Code section 1947.12(d).

IV.       NEW NOTICE REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE CALIFORNIA TENANT PROTECTION ACT

(1)       Relocation Assistance/Rent Waiver: Be aware that landlords are required to include the renter’s right to relocation assistance or a rent waiver in the written notice of termination of tenancy based on the no fault just cause.  If the landlord decides to issue a rent waiver, the notice should provide the amount of the rent waiver and state that no rent is due for the last month of the tenancy.  Relocation assistance shall be provided within 15 calendar days of service of the written notice of termination of tenancy. However, it is important to note that if the tenant is at fault for the condition(s) triggering an order to need to vacate as set forth in Section 1146.2(b)(1), the tenant is not entitled to any relocation assistance or rent waiver.

(2)       Property Exemption: Properties that are exempt under Sections 1947.12 (rent control) and 1946.2 (just cause limits) must provide renters with written notice stating the following:

Civil Code section 1946.2 implements “just cause” limitations, which restricts the landlord’s ability to evict long-time tenants.  The section prohibits termination without just cause of a tenant who has lived in the unit for at least 12 months and requires that “just cause” be stated in the written notice to terminate tenancy.  Just cause includes both tenant at-fault behavior and no-fault reasons as set forth in Section 1446.2(b)(1) and (2), respectively.  “At-fault” just cause requires landlords to have evidence to support the basis for the eviction and includes, but is not limited to, failure to pay rent, breach of a material lease term, and committing waste.  “No-fault” just cause includes, but is not limited to, the intent by the owner or owner-relative to occupy the unit, withdrawal of the rental property from the rental market, and the owner’s compliance with a local ordinance, court order, or other government entity resulting in the need to vacate the property.

This property is not subject to the rent limits imposed by Section 1947.12 of the Civil Code and is not subject to the just-cause requirements of Section 1946.2 of the Civil Code. This property meets the requirements of Sections 1947.12(d)(5) and 1946.2(e)(8) of the Civil Code and the owner is not any of the following: (1) a real estate investment trust, as defined by Section 856 of the Internal Revenue Code; (2) a corporation; or (3) a limited liability company in which at least one member is a corporation.

This notice must be included in rental agreements that begin on or after July 1, 2020.  For tenancies that commenced prior to July 1, 2020, the rent agreement may, but does not have to, include the above notice provision.

(3)       Property Subject to the Law: A residential property owner subject to the law is required to provide the following notice, in no less than 12-point type:

California Law limits the amount your rent can be increased.  See Section 1947.12 of the Civil Code for more information.  California law also provides that after all of the tenants have continuously and lawfully occupied the property for 12 months or more or at least one of the tenants has continuously and lawfully occupied the property for 24 months or more, a landlord must provide a statement of cause in any notice to terminate a tenancy.  See Section 1946.2 of the Civil Code for more information.

For tenancies that started or were renewed on or after July 1, 2020, the above notice should be included as an addendum to the lease or as a written notice signed by the renter, with a copy of the signed written notice provided to the renter.  For tenancies that existed prior to July 1, 2020, the above notice must be provided as a written notice to the renter no later than August 1, 2020, or as an addendum to the lease.

If you have a landlord-tenant issue, contact Dias Law Firm, Inc. for a consultation.

By: Jonette M. Montgomery, Esq.


For the general public: This Blog/Web Site is made available by the law firm publisher, Dias Law Firm, Inc., for educational purposes. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law, but does not provide specific legal advice. By using this site, commenting on posts, or sending inquiries through the site or contact email, you confirm that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

For attorneys: This Blog/Web Site is informational in nature and is not a substitute for legal research or a consultation on specific matters pertaining to your clients. Due to the dynamic nature of legal doctrines, what might be accurate one day may be inaccurate the next. As such, the contents of this blog must not be relied upon as a basis for arguments to a court or for your advice to clients without, again, further research or a consultation with our professionals.

Employers: Do You Have to Reclassify Your Independent Contractors in 2020?

worker-vs.-independent-contractor

The new year is fast-approaching and employers should be aware that several new labor and employment laws will become effective when the clock strikes midnight and the last of the confetti falls.  In fact, the California legislature and Governor Newsom passed several significant laws this year that will go into effect on January 1, 2020. (more…)

California’s New DUI Law and Ignition Interlock Devices

interlock

 

 

 

 

 

 

An ignition interlock device is a blood alcohol testing device similar to a breathalyzer that is wired into a vehicle’s ignition system. The device requires a breath sample from the driver in order to start the engine. (more…)

Living In A Social Media World: How Social Media Can Cause a Business to Be in Violation of the Law

social media pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past decade, social media and its numerous platforms have grown exponentially.  While social media, undoubtedly, has its perks, it has proven to have a number of pitfalls. (more…)

Settling Divorce Actions Between Military Service Members by Default

SMRA

The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law (50 U.S.C. §§ 3901-4043) that provides a wide range of benefits and protections to those in military service.  The SCRA also provides certain benefits and protections to dependents and, in certain instances, to those who co-signed a loan for, or took out a loan with, a servicemember.  (more…)

Modifying an Irrevocable Trust: An Introduction to California’s Uniform Trust Decanting Act

IMG-4101

 

 

 

 

 

 

Generally, an irrevocable trust, by its terms, is one that cannot be modified.  However, the Probate Code identifies limited circumstances in which modification is allowed, (more…)

Can an Employer Be Found Liable For The Sexual Harassment of Its Employees By Customers or Clients?

sexual harras.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When one thinks of sexual harassment at work, the visual that comes to mind is a boss or co-worker being the offender.  However, a customer or client may be the person treating the worker improperly. Depending on the situation, reporting such issues to management may be even more difficult than reporting on a supervisor or co-worker. (more…)

Drug Testing for Parents in Family Court

substance abuse pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

When parents divorce or partners separate and children are involved, custody often becomes an issue.  As such, the court’s main concern is the best interest of the child.  Many factors can be considered by the courts, including substance and alcohol abuse. (more…)

New Changes to Response Times for Unlawful Detainer Actions

other eviction pic

 

 

 

 

 

In California, when a landlord wants a tenant to vacate their leased premises, a landlord may have to have court involvement and file an unlawful detainer (“UD”) action to have the tenant removed.  A UD action can be initiated for a variety of things, but the most common actions stem from the tenant failing to follow a provision of their lease. (more…)

Wage and Hour Expanded – Do You Owe Your Salaried Employees Overtime?

overtime image

There’s a commonly held belief among both employers and employees that salaried employees are not entitled to be paid overtime, however, this isn’t always true. In fact, the amount you have to pay an overtime exempt employee from year-to-year has probably changed a lot since the last time you thought about making your valued employee a salary man (or woman!). (more…)

What Happens to Our Pets During Divorce?

images (2)

Going through a divorce can be a difficult process. No one enjoys dividing their property and it is especially emotional discussing custody plans for your children, but what about your family pet(s)? Because California is a community property state, the courts recognize pets as personal property and when a couple divorce, each spouse is entitled to half the value of the animal. (more…)

Post Judgment Relief in Criminal Matters, Part One

images
Everyone makes mistakes…but they don’t have to stay on your record forever. Many criminal defendants who are charged with crimes spend a lot of time and effort to fight the case. However, the fight does not end when the criminal defendant is convicted. (more…)

Wage and Hour Claims

1560359131069

As an employer, state and federal laws establish how much an employee can work and how an employee must be compensated for those hours worked. Failing to follow these laws allows an employee to sue the employer, and in some instances, the employer could be subjected to civil and/or criminal penalties. (more…)