Question: Today we swear in the 45th President of the United States. As a California employer, should I expect any significant changes under the new administration?

Probably not. When it comes to employment law, in general you must follow the law that is most generous to the employee. The new president will likely bring substantial shifts in federal government policy. However, California employers will be less affected by any changes because its laws already provide heightened protection for California employees. Nevertheless, based on Donald Trump’s expected appointments and campaign promises, there are a few topics that will likely receive immediate attention.
In November 2016 the Department of Labor (“DOL”) rule doubling the minimum salary requirement for certain exempt employees and extending eligibility for overtime pay to millions of Americans was enjoined by a federal court in Texas. The DOL appealed that decision. However, after Mr. Trump announced that he would nominate Andrew Puzder to be the next Secretary of Labor, it is likely that the DOL will abandon that appeal. Therefore, if employers have not already implemented changes to exempt employee salaries or classifications in response to the DOL rule, they should continue to follow the California overtime exemption and employee classification laws.
Throughout his campaign, Mr. Trump promised to create jobs for the American people in part, by deporting undocumented immigrants. Although the administration’s plans for fulfilling this promise remain unclear, one of Mr. Trump’s immigration related promises may be implemented. Mr. Trump stated that he plans to require all employers to use the E-verify program to verify applicants’ identity and right to work in the United States. The E-verify program is currently available for all employers, but neither California nor federal law requires employers to use the system. This may be one of the few immigration related changes employers can expect from the new administration. Therefore, employers should ensure that their I-9 processes and employment documentation are in order. Otherwise, it is expected that the California laws protecting all employees regardless of their immigration status will remain largely intact.
Mr. Trump also promised to immediately “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA). An outright repeal, however, is probably unlikely since repealing the ACA may result in millions of Americans losing health coverage. It remains to be seen whether Congress will come up with a plan that gradually rolls back ACA provisions and replaces them with others. Therefore, employers should continue to comply with current ACA obligations.
Although California employers will not immediately feel the effects, the Trump administration will have its biggest impact on the federal court system. Mr. Trump is responsible not only for filling the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, but he will also be tasked with filling the three vacancies on the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Considering that many cases addressing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are brought in federal court, Mr. Trump’s appointees could significantly shape the ways those laws are interpreted and applied.
Finally, Mr. Trump is expected to nominate more-conservative members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which may lead to more business-friendly decisions. As a result, recent NLRB rulings regarding union elections and joint employer liability may change.