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California Warehouse Workers Entitled to New Employment Protections

Effective January 1, 2022, AB 701 imposes warehouse production quota transparency requirements and limitations for non-exempt employees working at warehouse distribution centers.

What is a Quota?

Quotas are work standards that employees must meet at a certain speed, or the set number of tasks they must do, or the set amount of material they have to handle or produce, within a set time. If they don’t achieve these goals, there could be adverse employment action such as reprimand, suspension or termination.

Which Employers Are Covered Under the Law?

The law applies to warehouse distribution center employers with 100 or more employees at a single location or 1,000 or more employees at one or more locations in California.

What is Required Under the Law?

Covered employers must provide new and current employees with a written description of any production quotas to which they are subject including the number of tasks to perform, what they must handle or produce, how long they have to do their work, and what happens if they fail to meet their quota. In addition, employees must not be required to meet a quota that prevents compliance with:

  • Meal or rest periods;
  • Use of bathroom facilities; or
  • State and federal occupational health and safety laws.

Employees also have additional rights under AB 701, including but not limited to:

  • Requesting information regarding their quota in the event of an alleged violation;
  • Protection from discrimination or retaliation for failing to meet certain quotas; and
  • Seeking injunctive relief to obtain an employer’s compliance with the law.

What Other Rights Do Covered Employees Have Under the Law?

Employees who believe that meeting a quota violated their meal or rest period or made them violate any occupational safety and health laws (i.e., OSH/CalOSHA) law have the right to request (verbally or in writing) a written description of each quota to which they are subject and a copy of the most recent 90 days of their own personal work speed data. Employers must provide the requested information within 21 calendar days. This information must also be given to former employees who request it; however, former employees can only ask for this information once.

The information provided to former employees must cover the 90 days before their separation.

What Actions Can Employers Take If Employees Fail to Meet Their Quota?

Employers cannot take adverse employment action against employees who do not meet their quotas because they did not know about them, could not take a break, could not use the bathroom, or because other occupational safety and health laws would be violated.

The law also includes anti-retaliation provisions, but it does not preempt any city, county, or city and county ordinance that provides equal or greater employee protections.

Next Steps for Employers

Those employers who may be covered under the law should review their production practices to determine if they amount to a quota system. If applicable, covered employers should begin to outline and draft of written description of how their quota systems work and what actions may be taken if an employee fails to meet these requirements. Those individuals who are responsible for onboarding should also be made aware of this requirement to ensure that the written description is provided with the employee’s onboarding documents. There should also be a designate who will be responsible for ensuring that the written description of the quota system is provided to all existing employees.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.