California News & Analysis

  • Dynamex independent contractor test limited to wage order claims

    A cab driver sued a taxi company for violations of California labor law. The trial court applied the employment classification test established in S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. DIR and found the driver was an independent contractor. The driver appealed, and the court of appeal reversed and sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings, finding the California Supreme Court's recently issued decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court governed the classification analysis for the driver's Wage Order claims, but not for his non-Wage Order claims.

  • Construction worker can't build class action on rest break violations

    A former employee at a solar farm in Southern California recently lost his appeal of a trial court's order denying class certification in a wage and hour lawsuit. The California Court of Appeal held that the construction worker wasn't an adequate class representative, his alleged rest break violations weren't suitable for class treatment, and it would be futile to grant permission to substitute another class representative in light of the evidence and the age of the case.

  • Ex-employee may have valid disability, accommodation claims against hospital

    An employee was suspended, pending a termination decision, after she reacted negatively to a performance review. She then presented her employer with a doctor's note and requested leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for treatment of a disability. The employer proceeded with the termination, and she sued it for disability discrimination and failure to accommodate her disability. On appeal, the court determined there was a triable issue over whether the employee's disability influenced the employer's termination decision.

  • Marching orders: employers' obligations to citizen soldiers

    The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects military servicemembers and veterans from employment discrimination based on their service and protects their civilian jobs and related benefits upon their return from uniformed service. The concept of protecting servicemembers from being disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their military service sounds straightforward. However, like many legal requirements, USERRA's application is often fact-intensive, with nuances that can trip up employers that don't have experience with the law. This article focuses on your obligations to "citizen soldiers" already in your workforce.

  • Things for which an HR manager should be thankful

    The challenges facing HR managers can be daunting. Amendments to the law, new and changing federal and state administrative policies, and a diverse workforce all contribute to the difficulty of appropriately resolving employee issues. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, here are some things for which every HR manager should be thankful.

  • How to claim paid family and medical leave tax credit

    The tax reform law passed late last year contained a little-noticed tax credit for employers that provide employees paid "family and medical" leave and meet certain other requirements. While the IRS hasn't finalized regulations pinning down the specifics of the new credit, it recently issued some helpful guidance. Let's take a look.

  • Employees won't stand for inadequate seating

    We predicted that the California law requiring employers to provide suitable seating if the "nature of the work . . . reasonably permits it" would launch a new wave of class actions and Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) cases against California employers. Among the difficulties has been how to determine the number of seats that are necessary and whether the nature of the work "reasonably permits" the use of seats. There has never been a clear answer, and reading the tea leaves doesn't provide a comfortable perch for employers.

  • Paid family leave, lactation accommodation bills signed into law

    In late September, Governor Jerry Brown signed a flurry of legislation into law. In our last issue, we covered several of the key bills inspired by the #MeToo movement (see "Governor Brown signs significant #MeToo-inspired bills into law" on pg. 1 of our October 8, 2018, issue). In this issue, we address two other important pieces of legislation concerning paid family leave (PFL) and lactation accommodations.

  • Religious dean blessed by favorable ruling on contract claim

    A seminary fired its dean for insubordination. The dean sued, and the trial court granted summary judgment (dismissal without a trial) on grounds that the lawsuit was barred by the religion clauses of the U.S. and California Constitutions. The California Court of Appeal reversed in part, finding that while the ministerial exception precluded the dean's tort (or wrongful injury) claims, she could proceed with her contract claim, which required no ecclesiastical inquiry.

  • Early settlement offer saves California employer thousands

    A recent California court decision proves the benefit of making early settlement offers and provides critical analysis on how to write the offer to yield the best value for the employer.