In a highly anticipated opinion, a Federal Judge in California ruled in favor of GrubHub, an internet food ordering service, finding it properly classified a delivery driver as an independent contractor.

In Lawson v. GrubHub, the plaintiff, a delivery driver, alleged that GrubHub violated California’s minimum wage, overtime and employee expense reimbursement laws by misclassifying him as an independent contractor when he was really an employee.  He brought the case on behalf of himself and as a representative action pursuant to the California Private Attorney General Act (PAGA).

Continue Reading GrubHub Driver Ruled Independent Contractor In First of Its Kind Gig Economy Trial

Driven by the wave of publicity surrounding sexual harassment allegations against prominent artists, executives, news anchors, filmmakers and legislators, and the ensuing #MeToo movement, legislators in California and several other states recently have introduced bills designed to prevent such harassment.  Below we summarize four bills introduced in the California Senate and Assembly in January 2018.  Employer groups have not yet publicly mounted a challenge to any of these bills, and it is not possible to say which, if any, of these bills will move all the way through the legislative process and be signed into law by the Governor.

Continue Reading Sexual Harassment Update California – Proposed Legislation

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) seeking to repeal a 2011 rule that significantly impacted the compensation of hospitality workers.  Specifically, the NPRM proposes to allow hospitality employers to control the distribution of the tips they pool assuming their employees are paid the full minimum wage.  By way of background, the FLSA requires employers to pay employees a minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour) plus overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a single workweek.  Employees who “customarily and regularly receive tips” must still receive the minimum wage, but employers may elect to take a “tip credit” by counting up to $5.12 per hour of those employees’ tips toward the minimum wage, meaning employers may pay a reduced wage of $2.13 to tipped employees.  Historically, employers that take the tip credit have been prohibited from sharing money from a tip-pooling system to employees who do not traditionally receive direct tips (cooks, dish washers, etc.).  In 2011, the DOL extended the tip-pooling prohibition to apply to employers even if they do not take the tip credit and pay their employees the full federal minimum wage.

Continue Reading Department of Labor Makes It Easier for Employees to Share Tips – Rolls Back Prior Restrictions

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) not only prohibits discrimination, harassment and retaliation, but goes a step farther than similar state laws in its explicit requirement that employers take reasonable steps to prevent and correct such conduct.  Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940(k).  In 2016, the California Fair Employment and Housing Council promulgated regulations which set forth the required elements of a compliant prevention and correction program (2 CCR §§ 11023-11024), and in May 2017 the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) issued a Workplace Harassment Guide (the “Guide”) to clarify further employers’ obligations under these regulations.  The Guide, which is notable for its detailed explanation of workplace investigation procedures, can be accessed here

Continue Reading California Issues Guidelines for Preventing and Correcting Workplace Harassment

The Second Circuit recently held that Rite-Aid lawfully fired a long-tenured pharmacist after he refused to comply with the company’s new mandate that pharmacists administer immunizations.  The Court’s decision overturned a jury verdict of $2.6 million in the pharmacist’s favor and reminds employers what it takes to show that a given function is “essential” and what accommodations are reasonable.  The former pharmacist had claimed Rite-Aid illegally discharged and retaliated against him, and refused to accommodate his disability—trypanophobia, or needle phobia—under the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state law.

Continue Reading Second Circuit Says Firing Disabled Worker Was Lawful

Gone are the days when most workers stay at one job for their entire career. Losing key talent to a competitor is one of the biggest challenges many employers face. Hunton & Williams LLP partners Roland Juarez and Emily Burkhardt Vicente discuss strategies that companies across industries can employ to protect themselves from unlawful employee raiding. View the 5-minute video here. 

Gone are the days when most workers stay at one job for their entire career. Losing key talent to a competitor is one of the biggest challenges many employers face. Hunton & Williams LLP partners Roland Juarez and Emily Burkhardt Vicente discuss strategies that companies across industries can employ to protect themselves from unlawful employee raiding. View the 5-minute video here. 

In a decision that could trigger similar action in multiple states, the Fifth Circuit recently decided that an employee could bring a wrongful-termination claim in Mississippi after being terminated for having a gun in his truck, which was parked on company property.   Following the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision on referral, the Fifth Circuit held that a Mississippi statute—which prohibits employers from establishing, maintaining, or enforcing policies that prohibit an employees from storing a firearm in a vehicle on company property and from taking action against an employee who violates that policy—creates an exception to the state’s employment-at-will doctrine.

Continue Reading Employer Prohibited from Terminating Employee for Storing Gun in Truck in Mississippi – Multiple States Potentially Impacted

The recently enacted Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA) provides a new form of expedited relief in federal court for owners of misappropriated trade secrets through an ex parte seizure of property. In “extraordinary circumstances,” DTSA permits a court to issue an order to authorize law enforcement officials to seize property – without advanced notice to the accused – in order to prevent the propagation or dissemination of the trade secret. The utilization of this ex parte seizure does not come without risk. Section 2(b)(2)(G) provides that in the case of wrongful or excessive seizure, a person who suffers damages has a cause of action against the applicant and can seek reasonable attorneys’ fees, damages for lost profits, cost of materials, loss of good will and punitive damages.

Continue Reading Law Enforcement Can Seize Stolen Trade Secrets – A New Tool

As we previously reported, the newly-enacted Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) represents a significant new weapon for companies to prosecute trade secret violations. Among other features, the DTSA’s nationwide reach and its provision for judicial seizure, double damages, and attorneys’ fees provide a much more robust enforcement and remedy scheme than is currently available under many state laws.

Continue Reading The Defend Trade Secrets Act’s Immunity Notice Requirement – Do Your Employment Agreements Comply?