New Law Increases Cal/OSHA Penalties and Changes Division of Labor Standards Enforcement Rules

Image result for labor lawSenate Bill 96, the California state budget bill, includes some employment-related “trailer bills” that accompany the main budget bill, including the following:

Cal/OSHA Penalty Increases:

SB 96 increases penalties for repeated Cal/OSHA violations from $70,000 to $124,709.  In addition, the civil penalty maximum is increased from $7,000 to $12,471 for each non-serious violation and each violation of posting, recordkeeping or notice requirements.

The bill also permits those maximum penalty amounts to be increased on January 1, 2018, and each January 1st thereafter based on the Consumer Price Index.

Further, civil penalty maximums are removed for specified crane safety order violations and carcinogen-related violations.

Division of Labor Standards Enforcement Rule Changes:

SB 96 increases the time within which the Labor Commissioner may investigate a retaliation claim from 60 days to one year.  The bill also requires an employer to pay Labor Commissioner attorney’s fees when the DLSE prevails in retaliation-related enforcement actions.

Further, the bill makes it unlawful for an employer to terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employee for reporting a work-related fatality, injury or illness.

Another change brought by the bill is that in most cases, employers are prohibited from introducing as evidence in an administrative proceeding certain records that weren’t provided pursuant to the Labor Commissioner’s request.

Finally, the period in which an employer may comply with DLSE’s determination on a retaliation complaint is extended from 10 days to 30 days.

SB 96 became effective July 1, 2017.  Although the law has become effective, the Cal/OSHA adjustments will not be enforced until Cal/OSHA goes through a public rule-making process.

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If you have any questions about this article, contact the writer directly, assuming he or she was brave enough to attach their name to it.  If you have any questions regarding this blog or your life in general, contact Kelly O. Scott, Esq., commander in chief of this blog and Head Honcho (official legal title) of ECJ’s Employment Law Department.