Category: News

New California Laws Now in Effect for 2022

New California Laws Now in Effect for 2022

The California State Legislature was busy last year, passing dozens of new laws, which were in turn signed by Governor Gavin Newsom and are now in effect. Here are just a few of the new laws in California for 2022 that may impact your life or business.


With the state continuing to face a chronic housing shortage, the legislature passed several laws seeking to alleviate the crisis.

SB 8

SB 8 extends the Housing Crisis Act to 2030 and makes a few adjustments to that law. It is meant, among other things, to speed up approval of housing developments and prevent local authorities from passing laws after an application has been submitted that would prevent the development from going forward.

SB 9

This act aims to simplify the process of subdividing a lot or creating or splitting a home into a duplex. If the proposed development meets certain requirements (including a minimum of 800 sq. feet per dwelling), local agencies must approve the project with minimal review and are restricted in their power to discourage such developments through zoning regulations.

SB 10

This law makes it easier for local governments to voluntarily upzone districts for increased housing density.

Workers’ Rights

These new laws are meant to improve pay and working conditions for California’s workers.

SB 62

California has a large garment production industry; SB 62 prohibits the practice of piece-rate compensation to garment workers. Instead of being paid per unit of work completed, these workers must now be paid an hourly wage. Employers who violate this law face fines, which are then paid to the workers themselves.

AB 1003

Employers who intentionally steal wages in large amounts (at least $950 from one employee or $2350 from two or more in a 12-month period) can be criminally charged with grand theft. Those convicted could face up to 3 years in jail.

SB 639

Existing law allows employers to obtain a special license to hire employees with mental or physical disabilities and pay them less than minimum wage. The new law phases out this program by 2025.


Among the bills passed were several election and campaign reform laws. Here are a few of them:

AB 37

Lawmakers previously implemented a temporary requirement that election ballots be mailed to every registered voter, which can then be returned by mail. AB 37 makes this a permanent requirement.

SB 35

Current law prohibits electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place. This law extends that protected area to anyone waiting in line to cast a vote. It also prohibits people from blocking access to the polling place and placing fake ballot collection boxes.

AB 686

Limited liability companies engaged in political activities must disclose information about their members and contributors.

Environmental Protection

The environment is always high on the legislature’s list of priorities. As a result, they passed several laws in this area in 2021, including the following:

SB 1

With regard to development within California’s coastal zone, the California Coastal Commission must adopt guidelines and recommendations for the assessment and mitigation of sea-level rise.

AB 652 & 1200

This law prohibits the use of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in products for children as well as disposable food packaging.

SB 343

Among other things, SB 343 prohibits deceptive markings or claims regarding the recyclability of products and packaging.

Navigate an Evolving Legal Landscape 

Laws and regulations are always changing, especially in California. Some of these changes can have significant consequences for your finances, your business, and more. Hiring an attorney who stays on top of these developments helps you stay ahead of the curve and take full advantage of new opportunities. Contact our team today for a consultation.

Silenced No More Act: New California law addresses workplace harassment and discrimination

Silenced No More Act: New California law addresses workplace harassment and discrimination

A new California law places additional limits on nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) and nondisparagement agreements that restrict employees’ ability to speak publicly about unlawful behavior in the workplace. Signed into law last October as SB 331, the Silenced No More Act went into effect on January 1, 2022, and expands on existing protections.


As workplace harassment and discrimination have received more attention in recent years, the widespread use of contractual agreements to prevent current and former workers from speaking out has also come under increased scrutiny. The agreements are often criticized for allowing companies to avoid negative attention and thus continue fostering unhealthy and unsafe work environments.

Two California laws passed in 2018 sought to combat such secrecy clauses:

SB 820

The STAND Act (SB 820) outlawed the use of NDAs in settlement agreements that prohibit parties from speaking about the factual basis of claims related to workplace sexual harassment and discrimination based on sex.

Legislators noted that many of Harvey Weinstein’s victims were bound by such NDAs, allowing his behavior to continue in secret.

SB 1300

Another 2018 law (SB 1300) made it unlawful for employers to force employees to sign a nondisparagement agreement that prohibited them from speaking publicly about discrimination and harassment in their workplace.

The law was aimed at current employees, who could no longer be made to sign this kind of agreement in order to receive a raise or bonus, or as a condition of employment or continued employment.

The Silenced No More Act

The Silenced No More Act keeps the same basic framework of SB 820 and SB 1300 but provides additional protections for current and former employees.

SB 820 only limited NDAs in settlement agreements where the claims were related to sex discrimination and sexual harassment. If an employee faced discrimination based on race, for example, companies were still allowed to enforce an NDA as part of a settlement.

The new law expands this protection to all forms of harassment and discrimination prohibited by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The protected classes defined in that law are race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, familial status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or veteran or military status.

While SB 1300 placed restrictions on the use of nondisparagement agreements for current employees, the Silenced No More Act extends this rule to severance agreements as well.

There is an exception, however, when the severance agreement is “negotiated,” meaning it was part of a claim brought in an outside setting such as a court and the claimant had the opportunity to be represented by an attorney.

The Silenced No More Act is not retroactive; it applies to agreements entered into on or after January 1, 2022.

What Does the New Law Mean for You?

Whether you are an employee or a business owner, the Silenced No More Act will have a significant effect on how workplace disputes are resolved. To determine how it could affect your case or business, contact us today for a consultation.

Everything You Need to Know About the 2021 Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit

It’s often said that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes; one could probably also add that not only are taxes a certainty, so is Congress’s tendency to make regular changes to tax laws. This year is no different, though. Major adjustments to tax policy are not surprising with a change in presidential administrations and the continued economic hardships caused by COVID-19. One particular change that should be of interest to many households is the Advance Child Tax Credit, which will be limited to the 2021 tax year.

What Is the Child Tax Credit?

The Child Tax Credit is known as a “refundable tax credit” paid to parents for each child under the age of 18. It is refundable because if your overall tax bill is lower than the total amount of the credit, you will receive the remaining balance in the form of a tax return payment. For example, if your total tax for the year was $4,000, and your total Child Tax Credit was $7,200, you would receive a tax return of $3,200.

This is different from deductions, which reduce your income figure (and thus your total tax), and non-refundable tax credits, which can reduce your tax bill to zero but don’t entitle you to a refund. The Child Tax Credit is a very good deal for parents.

What’s Different in 2021?

The tax credit will be different in two important ways. First, the default amount of the credit has been raised from $2,000 per child to $3,600 per child. Second, this year the IRS will be paying 50% of the credit in monthly payments from July to December 2021. The result is that parents will be receiving checks through the end of the year, but the tax credit they receive when filing their tax return in 2022 will be reduced by half.

Who Will Receive the Advance Child Tax Credit?

The Advance Child Tax Credit will go out automatically to anyone who meets the following conditions:

  1. (a) Filed a tax return in 2019 or 2020 OR (b) didn’t file but gave your income information in 2020 to receive an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check)
  2. Had your main home in the United States for more than half the year, or file jointly with someone who did
  3. Have a child who will be under 18 at the end of 2021 and who has a Social Security number
  4. Have annual income under a certain amount (the amount of the credit goes down starting at $75,000 annual income for single filers, $112,500 for heads of households, and $150,000 for joint filers)

Parents who meet these conditions should receive a monthly check with no further action. If you neither filed a return in 2019 or 2020 nor gave the IRS your information to receive a stimulus check last year, you can still qualify for the Child Tax Credit. You must first either file a normal tax return or a simplified return available on the IRS website.

If you don’t want to receive the advance payments and prefer the larger tax credit when you file your return next year, you must notify the IRS.

Experienced Tax Attorneys in Southern California

State and federal tax policy is constantly changing, and it’s important to have help from a tax expert to make sure you are gaining the maximum benefit and minimizing your tax bill. Schedule a consultation today, and we’ll help you get the most from your Child Tax Credit and other programs.

U.S. Immigration Policy Changes Under Biden Administration

Immigration policy in the United States has been a contentious issue for just about the entirety of the country’s existence. In recent years, under the Obama administration, then the Trump administration, and now President Biden, the government’s position on immigration is about as volatile as it’s ever been. With over 35 million lawful immigrants living in the United States (including naturalized citizens) and some 10 million or more unauthorized immigrants, these policies can have profound consequences for a significant portion of the U.S. population.

The Biden administration has already made a few significant changes to immigration policy via its executive powers, and has outlined legislative initiatives that it supports. Here are some of the highlights.

Deferred Action for Minors

Since 2001, Congress has repeatedly tried and failed to pass some version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. This law would allow people who entered the United States illegally as children to attain lawful permanent resident status (a.k.a., a “green card”) and a path to citizenship. President Obama introduced a policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which achieved essentially the same result by an executive order to suspend deportations in such cases. President Trump attempted to reverse this policy, but was stopped by the Supreme Court.

President Biden has officially reinstated DACA and announced his support for a new DREAM Act to be passed by Congress.

Clearing Backlogs for Family-Based Immigration

U.S. law sets annual caps on immigration by country, and no single country can account for more than 7% of approved immigration visas. For countries with high numbers of immigrants coming to the United States (e.g., China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines), this has led to a massive backlog in processing applications. To give an idea, for unmarried children of U.S. citizens coming from Mexico, the government is currently processing the applications of anyone who submitted theirs in April 1998 or earlier.

Proposed legislation from the Biden administration aims to clear this backlog in a few ways, including raising the annual caps and exempting certain family-based visas from the quotas.

Increased Skilled-Worker Admissions

Under President Trump, denial rates for H-1B skilled worker visas approximately doubled. These visas are generally sought by employers looking for educated, highly specialized labor; they are very common in the tech industry, for example. The Biden administration is currently reviewing the policies that led to this increase. It is expected that acceptance rates for these types of visas will eventually go back up.

Temporary Protected Status

Immigrants from a list of 12 countries (e.g., Somalia, El Salvador, and Yemen) currently experiencing high levels of instability, violence, or other dangerous conditions can be granted a temporary reprieve from deportation, during which they may live and work in the United States. This is known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The Biden administration added Venezuela and Myanmar to the TPS list. Though there are relatively few immigrants from Myanmar, there are an estimated 300,000 Venezuelans in the United States who could potentially benefit from this change. TPS status for these two countries is set to expire in September 2022, but can be extended further.

Do you believe you, your family, or your business may be affected by recent changes in immigration policy? Schedule a consultation with Hoffman & Forde to evaluate your situation.

New California Laws in 2021

California has a long history of trendsetting and experimentation when it comes to its laws. Some may complain about over-regulation, but the state is often ahead of the curve. For example, when California first legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996, it was considered a drastic move; now cannabis is legal in some form in 36 states and the District of Columbia.

Though there were actually fewer laws passed last year than normal, due largely to the pandemic, there are still several important California laws going into effect in 2021. Here are a few of them.

Minimum Wage Increase

Though the federal minimum wage is still stuck at $7.25 per hour, California is going ahead with its planned increase. Starting January 1, 2021, employers with 26 or more employees must pay at least $14 per hour, while employers with 25 or fewer employees must pay at least $13 per hour. At the start of 2022, the rate will increase to $15 and $14 per hour, respectively, and by 2023 even the smaller employers must pay their California employees at least $15 per hour.

Diversity for Boards of Directors

For publicly held corporations whose principal executive office is located in California, existing state law already requires them to have at least one female director on their board (and possibly more, depending on the size of the board). By the end of 2021, these corporations also must have at least one director from an underrepresented community, meaning an “individual who self-identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, or who self-identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.” Larger boards will be required to include more such directors by the end of 2022.

Extension of Unpaid Parental Leave

California law already mandated 12 weeks of annual unpaid leave to bond with a new child or care for a family member, if an employee who worked at least 1250 hours in the last 12 months for an employer with at least 50 employees. Effective January 2021, this mandate applies to employers with 5 or more employees, greatly extending the right. Unpaid leave means employers must guarantee the same or a comparable position when the employee returns.

Property Tax Transfers

Californians are no strangers to high property taxes as property values have soared over the years. Normally, a home’s assessed value may only increase by 2% annually until there is a change in ownership, at which point the full property value is reassessed (likely at a much higher figure). There are exemptions for property transfers to close family members, which will not trigger a reassessment of the property’s value.

Proposition 19, narrowly passed in November 2020, limits that exemption for family members. Starting in February 2021, the exemption only applies when a family home is transferred to a child or grandchild and the child or grandchild continues to use it as a family home.

If you think these or other new California laws might affect you, contact Hoffman & Forde today for a consultation.

Introducing New Practice Area Pages

We’re a boutique law firm, and that means we offer a wide range of practice areas to serve your specific needs. We’ve recently expanded our website to give you more information on how we can serve you. 

Civil Litigation

Are you considering a lawsuit or facing litigation? Our experienced civil litigation attorneys can help. Learn more about additional civil litigation services and specialties below.

Commercial & Residential Real Estate

Our commercial and residential real estate attorneys offer a full range of services in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange County. We have proven expertise in the following areas:

  • Real Estate Dispute Attorney – Transactions don’t always run smoothly. If a dispute is unavoidable, hire a skilled attorney today.
  • Landlords & Tenants Attorney – You can prevent landlord tenant conflicts before they happen or reach mutual agreement with counsel.
  • Escrow Attorney – Resolve escrow disputes and close more effectively. Stop contract breaches and unnecessary fees.
  • Real Estate Litigation Attorney– Facing real estate litigation? Protect your property against fraud and other potential issues.
  • Lease Negotiation Attorney – Do you have lease modification or commercial eviction needs? We help businesses stand their ground.
  • Real Estate Non-Disclosure – Are you buying, selling, or brokering a real estate property? Seek legal advice first, sign later.

Business Consulting

Business owners face a number of legal duties and requirements. Invest in a business attorney to eliminate legal hurdles and to set up your business for success. As our client, you may choose to retain us, which allows us to develop an in-depth understanding of your business, culture, and legal needs. We also specialize in the following practice area:

  • Employment Attorney – If you are an employee who has been put at a disadvantage, contact our employment attorneys.

Estate Planning

Protect your legacy and ensure your loved ones are taken care of with an estate planning attorney. Distribute your assets according to your wishes. Reduce or eliminate estate taxes. Spare your loved ones from probate court. Get your estate plan in order to gain peace of mind with expert legal advice. Hoffman & Forde also specializes in these related practices:

  • Probate Attorney – We can help if you’re facing probate disputes or want to learn more about your estate planning options.
  • Wills & Trusts Attorney – Prepare well for the future. Save yourself from costly mistakes with our experienced attorneys.

Tax Advisory

Do you need legal advice for your unique tax situation? Our tax attorneys practical legal services suited to your needs, whether you need help with tax planning, family or corporate transactions, and more.  

  • Tax Problems – Are you facing a difficult or complicated tax situation? We’ll help you navigate the complexities of tax law.

Whatever your situation or industry, our lawyers at Hoffman & Forde are ready to deliver expert and creative legal solutions. Schedule your consultation today to tell us about your case or to learn more about our practice areas.