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Employment Law Update: Sacramento and California COVID-19 Orders [Delfino Madden]

By July 14, 2020 No Comments

On July 13, 2020, as COVID-19 cases increase throughout the state, Governor Newsom rolled back California’s reopening, mandating the closure of certain operations throughout the state and more significant closures in those counties that have been on the County Monitoring List for three consecutive days.

As detailed in the California Department of Public Health’s July 13, 2020 Guidance on Closure of Sectors in Response to COVID-19, the following sectors must close throughout the state effective immediately:

  • Dine-in Restaurants (indoor)
  • Wineries and Tasting Rooms (indoor)
  • Movie Theater (indoor)
  • Family Entertainment Centers (indoor)
  • Zoos and Museums (indoor)
  • Cardrooms (indoor)
  • Brewpubs, breweries, bars, and pubs (indoor and outdoor), unless they satisfy specific exceptions detailed in the Guidance

In addition, in those counties on the County Monitoring List for three consecutive days, the state has mandated closure of indoor operations for business sectors that promote the mixing of populations beyond households and make adherence to physical distancing with face coverings difficult. The Department of Public Health has identified the following sectors which fall within this mandate:

  • Gyms and Fitness Centers
  • Places of Worship
  • Offices for Non-Critical Infrastructure Sectors
  • Personal Care Services (e.g., nail salons, massage parlors, tattoo parlors)
  • Hair Salons and Barbershops
  • Malls

Indoor protests are also prohibited in these counties.  As of July 13, 2020, there were 29 counties on the County Monitoring List for three or more consecutive days, including Sacramento, Placer, and Yolo, as well as other neighboring counties.

The July 13, 2020 order will remain in effect until further notice.

In the meantime, and continuing after the July 13, 2020 order is relaxed, all other local, state, and federal guidance issued to date must be followed, including mandated use of face coverings.

This includes the Sacramento Worker Protection, Health, and Safety Act, issued by the City of Sacramento on June 30, 2020.  The City ordinance goes into effect on July 15, 2020, and remains in effect until December 31, 2020, although the City will evaluate its impact and effect within 90 days of the effective date and may extend this deadline in the future.

Pursuant to the ordinance, employers must implement a number of physical distancing, mitigation, and cleaning protocols including:

  • Daily cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas in accordance with CDC protocols;
  • Maintenance of cleaning protocols established by the employer;
  • Establishment of protocols in the event the employer discovers that the employment site has been exposed to a person who has a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19;
  • Providing employees regular access to hand washing stations, soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes;
  • Cleaning common areas–including break rooms, locker rooms, dining facilities, restrooms, conference rooms, and training rooms–daily and between shifts;
  • Providing face coverings for employees to wear while at the job site and requiring employees to wear the coverings while on site–except where the employee can maintain physical distance of six feet or is using his or her break time to eat or drink;
  • Informing employees in writing in English and any language spoken by at least 10% of the employees who work at the job site of the protocols and practices set forth above.

The ordinance prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining, discriminating against, retaliating against, or reducing the compensation of employees who exercise their rights under the ordinance, including refusing to work when the employee reasonably believes the employer is violating the ordinance and has provided notice of the alleged violation.  The ordinance also sets forth a framework for the City to investigate employee allegations and for employees to bring civil enforcement actions related to purported violations.  Employees may bring an action or continue to pursue any of the remedies in the ordinance after December 31, 2020, if the alleged violation occurred before January 1, 2021.

In addition, the ordinance expands the application of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) to Sacramento employers with 500 or more employees nationally who were previously exempted from the EPSLA.  Under the ordinance, large employers must now provide 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave to their full-time employees and supplemental paid sick leave to part-time employees equal to the number of hours worked on average over a two-week period, up to maximum daily/total caps depending upon the reason(s) for taking leave.

Finally, employers who receive financial assistance from the City related to COVID-19 are now required to certify that their businesses comply with the ordinance as a condition of receiving funds. Failure to comply will result in the business having to refund any financial assistance received from the City.

Employers should review the ordinance to ensure compliance, including posting the necessary notices and complying with the employment protections and protocols set forth therein.

If you missed Delfino Madden’s other articles on COVID-19 legislation and issues, you can find them here.