The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has joined several sister circuits in holding that courts should consider the amount of “possible” and not “probable” punitive damages in determining the $5 million amount-in-controversy for federal jurisdiction in class action cases. 
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Says Reasonable Possibility of Punitive Damages Will Suffice for Amount-in-Controversy Under CAFA

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently clarified that a named plaintiff gives up his or her right to represent a class if, in an individual settlement, he or she does not carve out from the settlement a concrete financial interest in the putative class action. 
Continue Reading Can Voluntary Individual Settlements Moot Class Actions? Yes, Depending on the Facts, According to the Ninth Circuit

An employer’s obligations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act are triggered when it obtains a “consumer report” from a “consumer reporting agency” for use in making an employment decision. A federal court in the Middle District of Florida is set to rule on a summary judgment motion clarifying whether a business that transmits public records unaltered to a prospective employer is a “consumer reporting agency”.
Continue Reading New Litigation May Further Clarify the FCRA’s Definition of “Consumer Reporting Agency”

The California Court of Appeals for the Second District evaluated the validity of unlimited vacation policies in a recent decision. Unlimited vacation policies operate how one might expect: instead of having a specific number of hours vest that the employee can use to take paid time off, an unlimited policy provides that the employee can take as much vacation per year as they would like to subject to company approval. In California, when vacation vests, it is treated as wages at termination and must be paid out. Since unlimited vacation does not vest, there is no payment due at termination.
Continue Reading Unlimited Vacation Policies in California – New Decision

Last month, a court in the N.D. of California denied class certification to a group of Chipotle workers who alleged that the burrito chain maintained unlawful English-only workplaces in the state of California.  Guzman v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., Case No. 17-cv-02606 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 15, 2020).  The opinion is a textbook example of how a lack of uniform written policies can, in some instances, benefit employers defending pattern and practice lawsuits.  Separately, the case also provides occasion to review the EEOC’s stance on English-Only policies.
Continue Reading Lost in Translation: Court Denies Class Certification to Chipotle Workers Alleging Unlawful English-Only Policy

On December 6, 2019, a coalition of both national and state business organizations and trade associations filed a Complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.  The lawsuit seeks both a preliminary and permanent injunction against implementation and enforcement of the recently enacted California law that makes it unlawful for California employers to require employees to sign arbitration agreements, under certain circumstances.
Continue Reading Injunction Sought to Stop California’s Anti-Arbitration Law

The body of law surrounding class action employment arbitrations received another jolt Monday when the Second Circuit revived an arbitration action with a potential class of roughly 70,000 employees. In Jock v. Sterling Jewelers, the Second Circuit overturned the district court and upheld an arbitrator’s decision to bind absent class members to the arbitration provisions of the company’s agreement.  The case represents another significant development in the realm of class arbitrations and class waivers, which have been the subject of significant recent litigation.
Continue Reading Second Circuit Revival of 70,000-Employee Class Action Adds Ripple to Uncertain Waters of Class Arbitrations

Last week, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Michigan granted Domino’s Pizza, Inc.’s motion to dismiss, holding that workers operating under the Domino’s brand must arbitrate their claims that the pizza chain made its franchises promise not to hire each other’s employees, then misled the public to believe no such agreement existed.
Continue Reading Domino’s Franchise Workers Compelled to Arbitration Through Franchisee Agreements

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.
Continue Reading Decertified Class of Physicians Provides Helpful Reminders for EPA Collective Actions