FRIDAY FLURRY: UPDATES ON NEWS FROM THIS WEEK

Posted in: Employment Law by Dowling Aaron on

Reminder on Outdoor Agricultural Lighting Regulations Effective July 1, 2020

By: The Saqui Law Group and Christina Anton

The California Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) approved Cal/OSHA’s new Outdoor Agricultural Operations During Hours of Darkness Standard. The new regulation will become effective on July 1, 2020. You may read the full regulation here.

Agricultural employers working outside in post-sunset and pre-sunset hours must comply with the new regulation, which requires:

  • Trucks, tractors and self-propelled equipment must be equipped with lights illuminating ahead and behind between sunset and sunrise; this is a change from the prior rule which required headlights from one hour after sunset until one hour before sunset. The new rule also added “trucks” to the list of covered equipment;
  • Certain illumination levels, which you may read here.
    • 0.9-0.19 foot-candles for poultry harvesting or catching operations;
    • 3 foot-candles for meeting area and meal/rest area;
    • 5 foot-candles for outdoor agricultural operations, pathways leading to and around restrooms and drinking water, and storage areas accessed by employees;
    • 10 foot-candles for task involving the use of tools and intermittently exposed or exposed point of operation equipment;
    • 20 foot-candles for task lighting for maintenance work on equipment.
  • Area lighting should be set up in a manner that minimizes glare to the workers;
  • Safety meetings at the beginning of every shift worked in the hours of darkness to inform employees of the location of restroom, drinking water, designated break areas, nearby bodies of water and high traffic areas; and
  • Employers must provide and require the use of Class 2 high visibility garments.

COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:

Agricultural employers performing any outdoor work between sunset and sunrise must comply with the new lighting requirements. If you have questions about how to comply with the new regulation, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group, a division of Dowling Aaron Incorporated.

OSHA Issues FAQ On Use of Face Coverings In The Workplace

By: The Saqui Law Group and Jorge Lopez Espindola

As the country begins to reopen, businesses are being provided guidance to follow in order to do so safely. The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has issued answers to frequently asked questions (“FAQ”) regarding face coverings in the workplace. One of the key highlights from the FAQ is that OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) standards do not require employers to provide cloth face coverings to their employees. However, OSHA does note that employers may choose to include cloth face coverings as part of their protective measures to reopen safely.

OSHA recommends that employers encourage workers to wear face coverings at work in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, the FAQ notes that employers need to determine if wearing cloth face coverings presents a hazard to the workers. For example, some cloth face coverings could become contaminated with chemicals used in the workplace, causing workers to inhale the chemicals that collect on the face covering. OSHA notes that where cloth face coverings are hazardous for the employee, then employers can provide alternative PPE, such as face shields and/or surgical masks.

The FAQ notes further that wearing face coverings is not a substitute for social distancing measures and that surgical masks or cloth face coverings are not substitutes for respirators when they are needed. You can read the FAQ here.

COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:

FAQs such as this provide important guidance for employers to reopen safely, but each employer’s situation is different and can lead to unique legal compliance questions. If you have any questions about your company’s reopening protocols or about implementing a plan to reopen safely, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group, a division of Dowling Aaron Incorporated.

EEOC Files Lawsuit Against a Fresno Dessert Company Alleging Hispanic-Preference Hiring Practice

By: Saqui Law Group and Heather Domingo

On May 22, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) filed a lawsuit in federal district court against Helados La Tapatia, Inc., (“Helados”), a Fresno dessert company, for allegedly failing to hire non-Hispanic applicants. This is a race discrimination lawsuit that should remind employers to review their hiring policies and practices.

The EEOC accused Helados of discouraging non-Hispanic applicants from applying to open positions.  The EEOC also accused Helados of not hiring non-Hispanic applicants in favor of hiring less-qualified Hispanics. Helados allegedly did not consider applicants if they did not speak Spanish, even though the ability to speak Spanish was not necessary to perform the duties of the job, according to the EEOC. The lawsuit claims that 97% of Helados employees were Hispanic as recorded from 1995-2017.

The EEOC’s lawsuit demands that Helados pay damages to the non-Hispanic applicants, including expenses for their job searches, inconvenience, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life.  The EEOC also seeks an order preventing Helados from engaging in any future discrimination. You can find more information here.

COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:

The EEOC is pursuing an aggressive campaign to crack down on what it perceives as discriminatory hiring practices state and nation-wide. Employers are encouraged to evaluate their policies and practices for interviewing and hiring employees and properly train all employees in the identification and prevention of discrimination in the workplace. If you have any questions or concerns about your company’s anti-discrimination policies, hiring practices, or how to properly respond to personnel issues, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group, a division of Dowling Aaron Incorporated.

The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients, clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient's state. The content of this blog contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. The Firm expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this blog.