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Legal Update

What Employers Can Expect from the California Supreme Court in 2015

Posted by on Feb 27, 2015

California may be known as an employee-friendly state, but every once in a while the California Supreme Court will render a decision favorable to employers. In 2014, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Duran v. U.S. Bank indicated that certifying wage and hour claims had become far too easy for plaintiffs to obtain. The Duran decision now requires trial courts to consider whether the trial of a certified claim can be one that is manageable – an issue that has been largely neglected until this decision. In another (somewhat) employer-friendly case, Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, the California Supreme Court followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion in ruling that an class action waivers contained in arbitration agreements are enforceable. At the same time, Iskanian also held that a claim under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”) is not subject to mandatory arbitration and therefore, an employee’s right to file a PAGA claim cannot be waived by arbitration.

2015 promises to bring further changes in the following areas of employment law: (more…)

6 Tips to Consider for Your Employee Handbook

Posted by on Feb 20, 2015

Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) focused on a wide range of employer policies and procedures. For example, recently in December 2014, the NLRB held that if an employer allows its employees to use its email system at work, the employer must presumptively allow use of that employer-provided email system for “statutorily protected communications on non-working time.” Back in January 2014, the NLRB also struck down hospital rules that prohibited employees from making “negative comments about coworkers and from engaging in or listening to negativity or gossip.” (more…)

Retirement Benefits and the Basics of Contract Law

Posted by on Jan 28, 2015

An agreement to provide benefits for today does not insure that benefits will be provided next year. (more…)

U.S. Supreme Court Keeps PAGA Representative Claims Intact From Arbitration

Posted by on Jan 21, 2015

On January 20, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, S204032 (June 23, 2014), a key California Supreme Court decision concerning class action arbitration waivers in California. (more…)

Employee’s On-Call Hours Spent On-Premises Counts as Hours Worked

Posted by on Jan 17, 2015

The California Supreme Court recently held unanimously in Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc. that the California wage order covering security guards entitles them to be compensated for any on-call hours spent at their assigned worksites. (more…)

Nonseverable Arbitration Clause Waiving Right to Bring PAGA Claim is Unenforceable

Posted by on Jan 12, 2015

California courts continue to wrestle with the enforceability of class action and representative action waivers that employees consent to when they enter into arbitration agreements. In a decision rendered just two days ago on January 7, 2015, the California Court of Appeals in Montano v. The Wet Seal Retail Inc. ruled that an employee’s waiver of his or her right to bring a representative action under the Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA” or California’s “Sue Your Boss” law) is unenforceable. (more…)

Workplace Policies and Practices Put to the Test in Two California Cases

Posted by on Jan 12, 2015

Employers ended 2014 with a pair of favorable wage and hour class action decisions filed on December 31, 2014.

The first, Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., involved 15,000 current and former security guards employed by ABM Security Services, Inc. who claimed that their employer violated the California Labor Code by requiring them to carry radios so they could be “on call” during their rest breaks. The plaintiffs claimed that because they were required to be “on call,” they were not fully relieved of their duties during their breaks. The Court of Appeals disagreed, deciding that simply being on call does not constitute “work,” and therefore does not, in and of itself, violate Labor Code section 226.7, which prohibits employers from requiring employees to work during a rest period. Although the security guards were required to be on call during their breaks, they were still allowed to engage in non-work activities. (more…)

Summary of Recent California Employment Laws

Posted by on Jan 12, 2015

In keeping with the State of California’s reputation as an employee-friendly state, the California legislature has passed a series of new laws creating obligations for employers to comply with in 2014 and 2015. Below, we have outlined a list of key laws that employers should be aware of. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and it does not include a summary of the Mandatory Paid Sick Leave law (Healthy Workplaces, Health Families Act of 2014), which will be the subject of a forthcoming posting: (more…)

Court Confirms Brinker Meal Period Standard and Plaintiff’s Higher Burden of Proof

Posted by on Nov 15, 2014

After years of wrangling and litigation, an employer’s meal period obligation under California Labor Code section 226.7 was clarified in the landmark California Supreme Court decision of Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004. In that case, the issue was whether employers must (1) merely make meal breaks available to their employees (Make Available Standard), or (2) actually ensure employees take their meal breaks (Ensure Standard).

The Supreme Court adopted the Make Available Standard. Under this standard, the employer is only required to relieve its employee of all job duties for the taking of a meal break. If that opportunity is made available to the employee, the employee may then choose to skip or delay the meal break (e.g., an employee may skip a meal break in order to leave work early). In contrast, the previous, and now rejected, Ensure Standard an employer had to ensure its employees took a meal break regardless of whether or not the employee wanted to take one. (more…)

Department of Justice Provides Guidelines on Body Cameras

Posted by on Nov 12, 2014

Over the past few months, there has been much attention whether police departments should equip their officers with video cameras. Last month, the United States Department of Justice issued a report regarding the use of body-worn cameras by police. The report, found here, is a worthy read. It provides guidance to cities and departments as they decide whether to issue body-cameras, and advises how to do so.