In the recent election, Californians voted to add an employer-friendly provision to the Labor Code that allows emergency ambulance workers to be on-call during breaks.  California is one of 24 states that allow voters to initiate laws through the petition process.

Continue Reading New Provision Added to the California Labor Code Protecting Employers of Emergency Service Workers

Sexual harassment is a recurring theme in the bills signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on September 30, 2018.  These new laws, which take effect on January 1, 2019, continue the trend of expanding protections for California employees.

 Hush-Money – Three of the bills signed by Governor Brown on September 30 target settlement agreements that prohibit disclosure of sexual harassment claims. AB 3109 makes void and unenforceable any provision in a contract or settlement agreement that waives a party’s right to testify in an administrative, legislative, or judicial proceeding concerning alleged criminal conduct or sexual harassment.  SB 820 prohibits settlement agreements from including a provision that prevents the disclosure of factual information related to claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment.  However, this bill does not prohibit confidentiality of the settlement amount.  SB 1300 voids any agreement in which an employee forfeits his or her right to disclose unlawful acts in the workplace, including acts of sexual harassment.

Redefining The Hostile Work Environment Standard – SB 1300 also declares that a single incident of harassing conduct could be sufficient to create a triable issue regarding the existence of a hostile work environment in certain circumstances. Continue Reading California Enacts New Sexual Harassment Laws

Employers who operate in New York State and City are likely aware of the new sexual harassment laws that are starting to take effect.  Many companies have already revised their sexual harassment policies to comply with the new laws, but now face the hurdle of complying with the sexual harassment training requirements under both the State and City laws.

While there is overlap between the State and City requirements, there are differences that employers should note. Continue Reading Deadlines Rapidly Approaching To Meet New York Sexual Harassment Training Requirements

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.”

Continue Reading FLSA De Minimis Defense Does Not Apply to California Wage Claims

New regulations addressing national origin discrimination under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) go into effect on July 1, 2018 – are you ready?  The regulations expand the definition of “national origin,” make language restrictions presumptively unlawful, and limit an employer’s ability to verify immigration status, among other significant changes. Continue Reading California’s New Regulations Expand National Origin Protections

In a time when workplace violence seems to be on the rise, many companies have adopted a strict no tolerance policy even for conduct outside the workplace.  In California, however, employers need to be cognizant of the protections afforded individuals that may make such terminations riskier than the company may expect.  One employer got just such a reminder last week when a California jury returned an $18M verdict against it for terminating an employee after he was arrested for threatening his girlfriend outside of the workplace.

Continue Reading Terminating an Employee Arrested for Off-Duty Conduct Could Run Afoul of California Law

When a franchisor provides a California franchisee with detailed instructions about how to operate the franchise business, but allows the franchisee to manage its own workforce, can the franchisor be held liable for the franchisee’s wage and hour violations?  The California Court of Appeals found the answer to be no under the facts in Curry v. Equilon Enterprises, LLC, 2018 WL 1959472 (Cal. Ct. App. Apr. 26, 2018).  There, the Court of Appeals concluded Equilon Enterprises, LLC, doing business as Shell Oil Products US (“Shell”), was not liable for the alleged wage and hour violations of the company that operated its Shell-branded gas stations throughout California. Continue Reading Are Franchisors Joint Employers in California Wage Cases?

The California Supreme Court has adopted a new three-part test to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee under California’s wage orders, which regulate wages, hours, and working conditions.  The highly anticipated ruling could have wide ranging effects for businesses operating in California and beyond, as companies try to navigate the new gig economy.

Continue Reading California Supreme Court Adopts New Independent Contractor Test

The California Supreme Court issued a decision Monday in a case that is sure to cause headaches for employers when compensating employees through flat sum bonuses.  In Alvarado v. Dart Container Corporation of California (S232607) the Court held that for purposes of calculating the regular rate, a flat sum bonus is to be allocated only to the nonovertime hours worked. This holding departs from the calculation methods broadly considered compliant outside of California under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Continue Reading New Headaches For California Employers On Overtime Calculations

California Employers 2018
The new year brings new laws for California employers to grapple with. Below we highlight the most significant new employment laws affecting California employers as of January 1, 2018.  Companies based in California or with operations in California are encouraged to review their policies and procedures in light of these developments.

Continue Reading California Employers: Are You Compliant with 2018’s New Laws?