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Family Medical Leave: California employees can take up to six weeks of paid leave to care for a sick family member, domestic partner or new child. Unlike the federal statute, the law applies to employers of all sizes and even covers employees who have been at a company for less than a year. Effective mid-2004. Workplace Safety: Employers who fail to notify state regulators of a workplace death, whether job-related or not, face criminal penalties. The new law also establishes procedures for implementing changes to existing state workplace laws that, among other things, increases criminal fines from $35,000-$70,000 to $100,000-$3.5 million per violation, according to Jeffrey Tanenbaum, a partner in San Francisco’s Littler Mendelson. “WARN” Act: California enacted its own version of a federal law that governs when and how employers must notify workers of mass layoffs. Unlike its federal counterpart, this law applies to a broad category of employees and includes a company relocation as an event that triggers notification. Illegal Immigrants: California authorizes undocumented workers to sue employers for back wages. This state law directly contradicts a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision. Court Rules: A new law extends the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury suit from one to two years. This applies to many employment cases; the one exception is discrimination claims. The law also changes summary judgment procedures, requiring defendants to file such pleadings 75 days in advance of a hearing on the motion. The prior standard was 28 days.

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