5-New-California-Employment-Laws-for-2017-1.jpg (2149×1159)The laws which govern employment in California are complex and constantly changing, a fact that represents a significant challenge for human resource professionals and workers in the golden state.  According to the California Chamber of Congress, the legal requirements regarding issues ranging from sexual harassment to worker’s compensation to whistle blowing and employment discrimination “can be difficult for employers large and small to navigate.”

The California Chamber and similar organizations offer online resources to help employees unravel some of the thornier issues surrounding California labor law, but even those resources can be a challenge to use.  Adding to the challenge, the state passes new laws every year.  It’s important for workers and HR managers to stay on top of these changes in the law, since they will potentially affect their salary, the benefits they receive and issues which impact hiring and firing decisions.

Here are 5 new California employment laws of 2017:

  1. Minimum wage:  California has enacted a schedule of minimum wage increases through 2022, at which time all employers with 26 or more employees must pay at least $15 an hour.  This year, the minimum wage increases from $10 to $10.50 for such employees.  It then increases to $11 in 2018, and by $1 additional each year until 2022.  The minimum wage reaches $15 an hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees in 2023.  Some cities have accelerated these increases.  For example, San Diego minimum wage workers will be paid $11.50 this year, and in Los Angeles, the minimum wage increases to $12 on July 1 of this year.
  2. Wage discrimination:  existing California law requires that employers pay men and women at the same rate for similar work in the same establishment and requiring similar skills and responsibilities.  The new law adds that employers can’t justify a different rate of pay based on a worker’s salary history.  For example, if a man and a woman are hired at the same time to perform the same job, an employer can’t pay the woman less because she was paid less in her previous job.  Another addition to the wage discrimination law prohibits employers from paying an employee less based on race or ethnicity.
  3. Legalization of recreational marijuana use:  on November 8, Californians voted in favor of Proposition 64 (57% to 43%), which legalized the use of recreational marijuana throughout the state.  The new law, however, does not change an employer’s right to prohibit marijuana use in the workplace or on company property.
  4. Juvenile convictions:  employers can no longer ask job candidates about any juvenile convictions, arrests or detentions, and cannot consider such convictions in hiring decisions.  The new law took effect on January 1, 2017.
  5. Protections for immigrants:  essentially, the new law limits an employer’s right to verify an employee’s immigration status.  For example, employers are not permitted to ask for more documentation that federal law requires.  The law also prohibits employers from reinvestigating “an incumbent employee’s authorization to work using an unfair immigration-related practice.”  Violations of the new law could prove costly:  under the new law, workers who file a successful complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement can recover $10,000 from their employer.


California employment laws are difficult to understand and change from one year to the next.  If you feel your rights have been violated and plan to take action, your best bet is to consult an attorney with deep and wide-ranging experience in employment law.

Aiman-Smith & Marcy is a highly-successful, boutique law firm with specific experience in practice areas including consumer fraud, employment and class action suits, and an unwavering commitment to protecting the rights of employees and holding employers to account. To learn more about your rights, or to discuss your case with a lawyer, contact us today.

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986