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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Earlier this year, a federal court in Illinois decertified a small class of Physicians who alleged gender-based pay discrimination under the Equal Pay Act.  Although not a groundbreaking appellate court decision, the opinion does provide a roadmap for employers facing EPA collective actions, which may gain traction in the wake of increasing media attention on pay disparities.
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In a unanimous decision in Rodriguez v. Nike Retail Srvs., the Ninth Circuit overturned a California district court’s ruling in a wage and hour class action under the California Labor Code that granted Nike’s motion for summary judgement after applying the federal de minimis doctrine.
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In Corona Regional Medical Center v. Sali, No. 18-1262 (May 3, 2019), the Supreme Court recently dismissed a petition for a writ of certiorari that would have resolved a circuit split as to whether expert testimony must be admissible to be considered at the class certification stage.  As a result, the Ninth Circuit remains one of only two circuits that have ruled workers are not required to submit admissible evidence to support a motion for class certification.  In contrast, the Second, Third, Fifth, and Seventh Circuits have all held that expert testimony must be admissible to be considered at the class certification stage.
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Massachusetts’ highest court, The Supreme Judicial Court, recently issued its long awaited decision in Sullivan v. Sleepy’s LLC, SJC-12542, in which the SJC responded to certified questions of first impression from the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case is particularly important for businesses which pay employees through commissions or draws (i.e., advances on commissions), particularly in the retail context where the ruling departs considerably from federal law.
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