San Francisco Ordinances

By Jason Allen 

As the year winds down, we thought it wise to look back at what California’s busiest locality has done in developing local employment law. The folks in the Bay Area have been so busy flexing their employment law muscles that we’ve split this summary into two easily digestible posts to provide what

By Dana Peterson

Many know SFO as the code for the San Francisco airport. But to businesses employing workers in the City by the Bay, SFO has come to mean “San Francisco Ordinance.”

In this first of a three-part series on recent action by San Francisco’s labor friendly Board of Supervisors, we review two ordinances (here and here) that together have come to be known as the “Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights.”

Last August, we blogged about the initially proposed version of this legislation. The final version, as amended, was passed on November 25, 2014. Though some troubling provisions (such as giving employees and applicants the right to sue employers for violations) were removed prior to passage, the ordinances still impose burdensome new requirements on Formula Retail Employers.

But wait: I own some martial arts studios. So surely this new law doesn’t apply to me, right? 

Well, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but yes, it absolutely could affect your business.

The ordinances cover employers with 20 or more employees in San Francisco who operate “Formula Retail Establishments.” These are businesses that engage in retail sales or services regulated as “Formula Retail Uses” under the San Francisco Planning Code, with one change: the ordinances apply only to establishments with at least 20 retail sales locations worldwide (the Planning Code definition requires fewer locations).

A “Formula Retail Use” is one that is, basically, standardized in terms of two or more of the following indicators: array of merchandise, façade, décor and color scheme, uniforms, signage, and trademark or service mark.

As outlined in greater detail here, the foregoing definition includes businesses that some may not consider to be “retail,” such as bars, health spas, dry cleaners, massage parlors, movie theatres, banks, credit unions, art studios, pet grooming establishments, and, yes, even martial arts studios. The Planning Code specifically identifies each such entity as a type of businesses considered to be engaging in “Formula Retail Use.”

Yikes, so what do I have to do to comply with these new laws?

We would need more space than we have here to fully explain each new requirement (hence the link to the more fulsome Management Alert). Suffice it here to say that covered employers:
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By Duwayne A. Carr and Laura J. Maechtlen

Last week, we blogged that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors tentatively and unanimously passed the Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights, which requires certain employers to (a) offer additional hours of work to current part-time employees before hiring new employees or subcontracting, (b) retain employees for 90

By Duwayne A. Carr and Laura J. Maechtlen

We previously blogged about pending legislation in San Francisco titled the “Retail Workers Bill of Rights,” a comprehensive set of policies introduced as two separate pieces of legislation (here and here) by San Francisco Supervisors Eric Mar and David Chiu

We learned that the Board of Supervisors tentatively—and unanimously—passed both  pieces of proposed legislation this week.  A confirmation vote is scheduled to occur on November 25, 2014, and, if the legislation passes at that time, the ordinances will become law in San Francisco 180 days after the effective date. 

While amendments might be considered prior to the final confirmation vote, we summarize the notable aspects of the two pieces of legislation here, in anticipation of that vote.  Of particular note to employers, the legislation provides a private right of action.  Any person aggrieved by a violation of the ordinance, any entity a member of which is aggrieved by a violation, or any other person or entity acting on behalf of the public, may bring a civil action in court against an employer for violating the ordinance.

Board of Supervisors File No. 140880:  Hours and Retention Protections for Formula Retail Employees

This proposed ordinance would apply to Formula Retail employers with 20 or more employees in the City.  “Formula Retail” establishments are defined for purposes of the new legislation as businesses with at least 20 retail sales establishments located worldwide. 

The proposed ordinance would require employers to:
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By Daniel Kim and Michele Haydel Gehrke

Two proposed San Francisco ordinances could mean more hours and more money for San Francisco’s part-time and minimum-wage employees. San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar’s recent proposal will give additional rights to part-time employees, including more hours, and a new ballot initiative for November proposes to raise the minimum wage rate in San Francisco.

Special protections for part-time employees?

The San Francisco Supervisors’ Land Use and Economic Development Committee is currently evaluating a city-wide ordinance that would provide additional protections for part-time employees. Eric Mar, a San Francisco Supervisor, recently proposed a new city ordinance covering the first half of what has been named the Retail Workers Bill of Rights. The proposal is sponsored through the San Francisco chapter of Jobs With Justice, an alliance of numerous coalitions relating to workers’ rights.

The proposed ordinance would:
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By Soo Cho and Michele Haydel Gehrke

Ah, San Francisco — the Bridge! Golden Gate Park! The chocolate! The fog! . . . the ordinances!?  In recent years, our favorite City by the Bay has adopted a number of employee-friendly ordinances that can catch the unwary employer.  In addition to the new “Ban the Box” Ordinance discussed here, San Francisco has a number of additional city ordinances regulating employers.  These ordinances include the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance; the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance; the Health Care Security Ordinance; and the Minimum Wage Ordinance.  Navigating these ordinances can be tricky not only for employers located in San Francisco, but for employers who have employees who spend more than 8 hours a week working in San Francisco.

San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance

As mentioned in previous Cal-Pecs blogs, here and here, effective January 1, 2014 San Francisco has implemented a new Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance.  This ordinance allows employees to request flexible or predictable work arrangements to allow the employee to assist with caregiving responsibilities for a child, a family member with a serious health condition, or a parent age 65 or older.

This ordinance applies to employers who regularly employ 20 or more employees, regardless of location.  Employees are covered if they have been employed for six months and regularly work at least 8 hours per week in San Francisco.  Employees may request accommodations such as a reduced schedule, a change in scheduled work times, working from home or telecommuting.
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By Soo Cho, Michele Haydel Gehrke, and Pamela Devata

Not only is complying with California’s labor laws challenging, operating a business in San Francisco can be particularly challenging due to a number of San Francisco city ordinances regulating employers.  Most recently, on February 17, 2014, Mayor Ed Lee signed the “Ban the Box” ordinance.  While the ordinance sounds as if it belongs in the same category as other  San Francisco environmental ordinances banning the use of plastic bags, this ordinance, formally known as the “Fair Chance Ordinance,” actually relates to what an employer can ask about relating to criminal history and when an employer can conduct a criminal background check in hiring. San Francisco is joining the ranks of many other states and municipalities who have recently passed similar restrictions “banning” the criminal history box (i.e., HI, MA, MN, RI, Newark, NJ, Seattle, WA, etc.).  See our publications relating to these trends here and here.

The Fair Chance Ordinance requires private employers in San Francisco who employ 20 or more employees (in any location) to limit the use of criminal background checks during the hiring process.  “Employers” is defined broadly to include not only private employers in San Francisco, but also employment agencies, contractors and subcontractors (with performance contracts in excess of $5,000 and for longer than 30 days), and housing providers.

Employers are barred from asking about criminal history or conducting a background check until the employer determines that the individual’s qualifications meet the requirements for the position.  Specifically, the law requires removal of the box or question on an employment application asking “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”  The ordinance notes that an estimated one of four California adults has an arrest or conviction record and seeks to limit the “unnecessary and significant barriers to employment” created by such application questions. This is similar to the reasoning espoused in Equal Employment Opportunity’s Enforcement Guidance on the Use of Arrest and Criminal Records in the Hiring Process, which can be found here.

Employers in San Francisco may ask about a candidate’s conviction history after the first live interview, but must provide the candidate with a notice of rights (an applicable notice of rights will be published by the city within the next six months).  Employers are also prohibited from considering (1) any arrests that do not lead to convictions, (2) offenses other than felonies or misdemeanors, (3) convictions more than seven years old, (4) an applicant’s participation in or completion of a diversion or deferral of judgment program, and (5) sealed, inoperative or juvenile convictions.

Similar to the federal requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S. C. Sec. 1681 et. seq. and state requirements under the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act, Cal. Civ. Code Sec. 1786 et. seq,  the ordinance also provides that if an employer does run a background check and intends to take an adverse action against the candidate based on that information, the employer must:
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By Daniel Kim and Michele Haydel Gehrke

The San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance, which we discussed in an earlier blog here, allows employees to request “flexible or predictable working arrangements” to care for their loved ones — a child, sick family member, or an elderly parent.  Despite having just gone into effect with