California News & Analysis

  • Healthcare employees working long shifts may waive second meal break

    After a decade of litigation in a case involving novel legislative action and some twists and turns along the way, the California Supreme Court has affirmed a court of appeal decision allowing healthcare employees who work shifts longer than 12 hours to voluntarily waive one of their two required meal periods. The supreme court's decision is a welcome confirmation of the validity of such waivers for shift workers in the healthcare industry.

  • Meal period case demonstrates that even minimal violations can lead to substantial exposure

    A former employee asserted a claim against Starbucks under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) for meal period violations. Even though Starbucks' payroll records showed the employee had been subjected to only two meal period violations during her four months of employment, she was allowed to proceed with a representative claim under the PAGA. At the close of trial, her attorney sought $70 million in PAGA penalties. Read on to find out how the court responded.

  • Failure to keep accurate time records ensures success of employee's overtime claim

    Following a four-day bench trial, a trial court ruled that although an employer failed to keep accurate records of an employee's work hours, the employee wasn't entitled to overtime because his testimony was too vague and uncertain. The court of appeal's subsequent ruling in the case illustrates the impact of an employer's failure to maintain accurate time records.

  • Do you have a ghost of a chance against ghosting?

    If you're like us (and Seth Meyers), you might have a hard time keeping up with all the latest slang terms having to do with new technologies and trends in social interactions and other aspects of modern life. One such term is "ghosting," which is when a person just stops responding to text messages, usually from someone they recently started dating. The term has slowly spread to other situations in which one person suddenly disappears from another person's life, including—you guessed it—when an employee or job applicant is a no-show with no communication or explanation to the employer.

  • Now's the time to consider marijuana policy

    State laws legalizing the use of marijuana—whether for medical or recreational use—have been a fast-moving target over the last several years. Currently, there are only 16 states in which marijuana is still illegal for both medical and recreational purposes. And out of those 16, most allow products that contain small amounts of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

  • Managing a multigenerational workforce in the new year

    Today's workforce is more age-diverse than ever before, with Silents, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, Millennials, and Generation Zers all sharing work space. With five different generations in the modern workforce spanning the ages from 16 to 72, managing employees in a way that promotes goodwill, productivity, and efficiency is more important than ever.

  • Happy St. Sylvester's Day: thoughts on religious freedom in the workplace

    This holiday season ended with the observation that Christmas in America is way more about shopping than religion, but America has been a uniquely religious country throughout its history. We were founded by refugees fleeing religious tyranny, and as a result, we injected freedom of religion (and from religion) into the DNA of our Constitution. Perhaps because of our religious freedom, America became a religious nation. In his 1835 social and political study of the United States, Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that "the religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me on arrival in the United States."

  • Shortened meal periods lead to long day in court for employer

    A California employer required its employees to return to work three to five minutes before the end of their 30-minute meal break to prepare for the recycling conveyor belt to be turned back on. A former employee sued the company on behalf of himself and his coworkers, claiming they were entitled to an hour of pay for not receiving their full meal period. The former employee also sought payment for the entire 30-minute break because it became an "on-duty" meal period when the employer shortened it.

  • Intervention in class action is not required when other protective measures are available

    What happens when you are sued in three different class actions, and each lawsuit contains allegations of similar wage and hour violations affecting all of your employees? Multiple parties brought class action complaints alleging various wage and hour claims against Heartland Payment Systems, Inc. When a party to one of the lawsuits agreed to a settlement in principle of all the claims, the parties who brought the other two lawsuits sought to intervene in the case. However, the court of appeal rejected their motion to intervene on the grounds that the parties had adequate remedies to protect their interests without intervening in the settlement.

  • Earning employee trust can reduce your legal liabilities

    "Trust" is a slippery concept. What does it mean for your employees to "trust" you or "distrust" you? And why should you care?