As we wrote about last month, on May 21, 2018, the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, 138 S. Ct. 1632 (2018), rejecting perhaps the largest remaining obstacles to the enforcement of class action waivers in arbitration agreements in the employment context. The Court concluded that the class action waivers did not violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). Although the Court’s opinion also seemed dispositive of whether such agreements could be avoided under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), at least one claimant tried to continue to litigate the issue, which was disposed of last week in Gaffers v. Kelly Servs., Inc., No. 16-2210 (6th Cir. 2018). And now the Sixth Circuit has addressed whether Epic Systems would apply to arbitration agreements with putative independent contractors who contended that they should have been treated as employees.
On May 21, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, holding that the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) does not prohibit the use of arbitration agreements with class/collective action waivers covered by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). The Sixth Circuit has now concluded in Gaffers v. Kelly Services, Inc. that the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), like the NLRA, does not bar the use of arbitration agreements with class/collective action waivers.
The National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) has taken the first step to potentially reshape labor law since the May 21, 2018 Epic Systems case, in which the Supreme Court held that class waivers in arbitration agreements do not violate the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”).
On August 15, 2018, the Board vacated its decision and order in Cordúa Restaurants, Inc., 366 NLRB No. 72 (April 26, 2018), where a three-member panel of the Board held that an employee engaged in concerted, protected activity by filing a class action wage lawsuit against his employer.
The Board’s recent vacating of this order is noteworthy for two reasons.
After the Eleventh Circuit’s holding in Asalde v. First Class Parking Systems LLC 894 F.3d 1248 (11th Cir. 2018), more small employers may be subject to the requirements of the FLSA. By expanding the “handling clause,” the case chips away at the degree of interstate commerce necessary for the FLSA to apply.
The California Supreme Court has ruled that California employers cannot rely on the federal de minimis doctrine to avoid claims for unpaid wages on small amounts of time. Under the de minimis doctrine, employers may be excused from paying workers for small amounts of otherwise compensable time if the work is irregular and administratively difficult to record. Federal Courts have frequently found that daily periods of approximately 10 minutes are de minimis even though otherwise compensable.
In Troester v. Starbucks Corporation, the California Supreme Court held that California wage and hour laws have not adopted the FLSA’s de minimis doctrine. As a result, Starbucks was not permitted to avoid paying an employee who regularly spent several minutes per shift working off-the-clock. The Supreme Court acknowledged, however, that there may be circumstances involving “employee activities that are so irregular or brief in duration that it would not be reasonable to require employers to compensate employees for the time spent on them.”
In AHMC Healthcare, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. B285655 (June 25, 2018) (“AHMC Healthcare”), California’s Second District Court of Appeals upheld an employer’s use of a payroll system that automatically rounds employee time up or down to the nearest quarter hour. Although the California Supreme Court has not yet addressed this issue, AHMC Healthcare aligns with decisions from the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, many federal district courts, and California’s Fourth District Court of Appeals, which also upheld time-rounding practices.
The Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2), confers federal subject matter removal jurisdiction over purported class actions filed in state court when, among other things, there is an amount-in-controversry (“AIC”) exceeding $5,000,000. Deciding whether a class action can be properly removed under CAFA typically turns on whether this high jurisdictional threshold can be met.
Andrea Mickles filed a complaint against her employer Country Club Inc., alleging it had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by improperly classifying her and other employees as independent contractors and failing to pay them minimum wage and overtime. She filed her case as a collective action, and others opted into the case before any ruling on conditional certification. Those opt-ins eventually provided the Eleventh Circuit with an opportunity to address an issue of first impression in any Circuit: What is the status of individuals who opt into a case that is never conditionally certified? Continue Reading Who’s Invited to the Party?: The Status of Collective Action Opt-Ins
In Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco Cty., 137 S. Ct. 1773 (June 17, 2017), the U.S. Supreme Court established limitations on personal jurisdiction over non-resident defendants in “mass actions,” a litigation strategy often utilized by plaintiffs’ class action attorneys to sue corporations in plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions that have little to no connection with the underlying dispute. The Supreme Court determined that the requisite connection between the corporate defendant and the litigation forum must be based on more than a combination of the company’s connections with the state and the similarity of the claims of the resident plaintiffs and the non-resident claimants. The ruling directed the dismissal of 592 non-California claims from 33 other states. As a result, the ruling supports the view that plaintiffs cannot simply “forum shop” in large class and collective actions and instead must sue where the corporate defendant has significant contacts for purposes of general jurisdiction or limit the class definition to residents of the state where the lawsuit is filed.
New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act will go into effect on October 29, 2018, making it the tenth state plus Washington DC and dozens of localities to mandate paid sick leave.
New Jersey’s Act requires employers of all sizes to provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid leave per 12-month period. Key aspects of the new law include: Continue Reading New Jersey Requires Employers to Provide Paid Sick Leave