In the face of unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, employers have been forced to balance the need to mitigate current health risks against the need to protect their future financial viability.  Last week, the Los Angeles City Council made navigating that balance more difficult for some employers.
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The Ninth Circuit recently overturned a district court’s grant of class certification on a wage statement claim under California Labor Code §226 because there were no “real-world consequences” stemming from the alleged misidentification of the employer’s name on the wage statement.
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The CDC has recommended temperature checks for workers in some counties.  Governors are beginning to make the same recommendation.  This step already is in place for many healthcare workers.  Now, employers in other industries are considering whether they should conduct temperature checks on employees who are reporting to work and send them home to avoid possible spread of the virus on the employer’s premises.  
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COVID-19 has disrupted the global economy and employers may soon face the need to reduce expenses associated with exempt employees. Employers can place exempt employees on furlough, or, in some cases, reduce salaries and hours, without jeopardizing the FLSA exemption, but exceptions may need to be made for certain employees on work-authorized visas.
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In an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19, many employers are permitting, and in some cases requiring, employees to work from home. One unforeseen consequence of requiring employees to work from home is some jurisdictions mandate that employers reimburse their employees for certain expenses incurred as a result of their employment. Accordingly, employers may be required to reimburse employees for reasonable expenses they incur for equipment and services necessary to work from home, such as cell phone, internet, and computer usage expenses.
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Recently, a California Appellate Court held that underwriters at Lloyd’s of London must defend the owner/operator of hundreds of Pizza Hut and Wing Street restaurants in a putative employee class action accusing the company of labor law violations, finding that an employment practices liability insurance policy’s “wage and hour” exclusion must be construed narrowly to bar coverage only for claims related to “laws concerning duration worked and/or remuneration received in exchange for work.” In doing so, the court made clear that “wage and hour” exclusions do not preclude coverage for claims that go beyond the employee’s actual remuneration received in exchange for work.


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Earlier today, the United States Department of Labor announced a long-awaited final rule to take effect on January 1, 2020 updating the earnings threshold to $35,568 necessary for employees to qualify for the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “white collar” exemptions.   The DOL estimates that 1.2 million additional workers will be entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay as a result of this increase in the salary basis.
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The arbitrability of wage-and-hour actions brought under the California Private Attorneys General Act is an increasingly important issue due to the growth of PAGA-only actions in California.   In that regard, a split has emerged among courts regarding the arbitrability of PAGA claims for unpaid wages under Labor Code Section 558.
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