The 2021 legislative session touched on a wide array of business topics. Changes in the law include regulating debt collection, automatically renewing service contracts, and privacy. These laws do not affect all businesses, but are nonetheless worth every business owner’s attention, as they may shape you conduct business in California in the future.
In California, another year means another set of new employment laws that impose burdens on employers. The 2021 legislative session was no exception, with new laws passed and signed that address employment-related confidentiality agreements, wage theft, and family medical leave, to name a few areas. The good news for California employers is that none of the new laws make revolutionary changes to employee rights or employer responsibilities, but employers nonetheless need to understand these changes and adjust their policies to avoid potential liability in the future.
Scali Rasmussen announced today that it has been selected by the Los Angeles Business Journal as a finalist in its "International Business Award." The publisher says the first annual forum and awards celebrates "the global business community and those outstanding corporate stewards who are leading the way in international trade, investment, technology, and innovation."
Scali Rasmussen announced today that its Founder and Managing Shareholder, Christian Scali and Shareholder Jeffrey W. Erdman have been selected as nominees by the Los Angeles Business Journal for its 2021 'Leaders in Law Awards.' The journal's Publisher and CEO, Josh Schimmels, says the awards "recognize the achievements of leading attorneys and firms who make a significant impact on the Los Angeles business community."
In previous articles, we have talked about the importance of using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication to protect consumer data. These are important steps, but only work when a potential user must login to a physical device or program before accessing consumer data. For this reason, every company should take steps to secure all devices and programs so that the user must login after a period of inactivity. This relatively simple step can help prevent a range of types of unauthorized access.
California courts and the California Legislature have long been skeptical about mandatory arbitration agreements in employment contracts. In a recent example, the legislature in 2019 enacted AB 51, which makes it unlawful for employers to condition employment or a benefit of employment on the employee waiving their right to trial and arbitrating their disputes with their employer, among other things. In a case arguing the Federal Arbitration Act preempts AB 51, the Ninth Circuit upheld most of the law, finding that mandatory arbitration agreements are enforceable, but only if both parties have a choice when entering into such an agreement. Questions remained, though, as to what conditions reflect choice on the part of the employee.
The California legislature passed AB 908, the Debt Collection Licensing Act, in 2020. The law requires that all debt collectors, as defined, obtain a license from the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) in order to engage in debt collection practices in California. DFPI began accepting applications on September 1 of 2021, and requires that all debt collectors submit an application by December 31, 2021, in order to engage in debt collection starting January 1, 2022. Debt collectors that submit an application after December 31 must wait until DFPI issues the license to engage in debt collection in 2022 and beyond. Now is therefore the time for California businesses to make a final assessment whether they should apply for a license.
Businesses across the country that have 100 or more employees will need to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees or regularly test unvaccinated employees for the disease by January 4, 2022. On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced that he was directing the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to adopt Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) on vaccination and testing, but did not announce a compliance deadline at that time. Now, business can get through the holidays without implementing the mandate, but will need to have it in place at the start of the New Year.
The Federal Trade Commission announced on October 27, 2021 the final updates to the Safeguards Rule under the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (“GLB”). These updates are the result of a multi-year process and purport to strengthen security for consumer financial information following an uptick in data breaches. Overall, the updates are more prescriptive than the previous Rule, imposing specific new requirements. For auto dealers who must comply with the new rules when they are fully effective, it means that action is needed now to protect their companies from costly private lawsuits and enforcement actions for failure to comply with the updates.
While it is important for every company to limit access to its data and network with strong passwords, for some sensitive data, traditional passwords aren’t secure enough anymore. Hackers have developed countless tried and tested methods of stealing credentials and gaining unauthorized access to private accounts. But strong passwords are not the only readily available security option. In a report published by Microsoft this year, it revealed that 99.9% of the account compromise incidents they deal with could have been blocked by a multi-factor authentication (MFA) solution. For this reason, your business should adopt MFA solutions to protect its most sensitive data.