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If you own a restaurant or are considering opening one soon, here is a list of current legal issues that should be front and center for California restaurant owners in 2017:

1. Overtime – employees earning between $23,660 to $47,476 will qualify for overtime pay under federal law.

2. Minimum Wage – Effective January 1, 2017, the minimum wage for all industries will be increased yearly. From January 1, 2017, to January 1, 2022, the minimum wage will increase for employers employing 26 or more employees. This increase will be delayed one year for employers employing 25 or fewer employees, from January 1, 2018, to January 1, 2023.

5. Predictive scheduling –The California Fair Scheduling Act requires certain businesses with more than 500 California employees (including electronic and tech retailers, grocery stores, restaurants, and franchises)

7. Health grades – expect stricter point deductions for restaurant health grades.

8. Tip Pooling – Labor Code Section 351 prohibits employers and their agents from sharing in or keeping any portion of a gratuity left for or given to one or more employees by a patron. Furthermore it is illegal for employers to make wage deductions from gratuities, or from using gratuities as direct or indirect credits against an employee’s wages. The law further states that gratuities are the sole property of the employee or employees to whom they are given. “Gratuity” is defined in the Labor Code as a tip, gratuity, or money that has been paid or given to or left for an employee by a patron of a business over and above the actual amount due for services rendered or for goods, food, drink, articles sold or served to patrons.

9. Wage disparity – California employers should review the compensation paid to their employees to make sure that workers of a particular race, ethnicity or gender are not being paid more for the same work than employees of another race, ethnicity or gender unless the employer can show that the disparity is fully justified by factors unrelated to membership in the protected class. It is also worth noting that law prohibits retaliating against an employee for discussing his or her salary or the salary of others or for asking about the salary of others.

10. LGBTQ workplace rights – California is now the first state in the country to require that all single user bathrooms be gender neutral. This means that all single user bathrooms must be identified as all gender. This new law applies to restrooms in all businesses and places of public accommodation.

11. Criminal history disclosure – The Los Angeles City Council has approved an ordinance that prohibits employers from asking applicants whether they have a criminal record until a conditional offer has been made to the applicant. Once an offer has been made, the employer may ask about the potential employee’s criminal record. The policy requires any employer that decides not to hire a person because of a criminal record to provide a reason for the decision.

Should I Consult an Attorney?
An attorney can help you meet all the deadlines and fulfill requirements needed to open a restaurant. He or she may also be able to help you decide which legal issues are most pertinent to your business, and work though possible strategies for the best legal protection.