California News & Analysis

  • New COVID-19 law requires paid sick, family leave

    On March 18, President Donald Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 90-8 earlier that day. The new law requires covered employers to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) until December 31, 2020. Some of the key requirements are summarized below.

  • Tips for California employers dealing with COVID-19

    The global coronavirus epidemic has changed life as we know it. On March 17, Bay Area counties issued "shelter in place" orders directing residents to stay inside their homes and away from others for three weeks. Two days later, Governor Gavin Newson issued a statewide "stay at home order" that became effective immediately and will remain in effect indefinitely. California's 40 million residents are now required to "stay home or at their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors."

  • CA Supreme Court holds individual settlements don't bar pursuit of PAGA claims

    The California Supreme Court recently held that employees who settle and release their individual wage and hour claims may still have standing (i.e., the right or authority) to pursue a representative action for civil penalties based on the same legal violations under the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). The PAGA permits aggrieved employees to seek civil penalties on behalf of similarly aggrieved current and former employees.

  • EDD shows that patience pays off in reasonable accommodation cases

    Employers that are sued for disability discrimination and failure to provide reasonable accommodations or engage in the interactive process often face a Hobson's choice: Endure the inherent risks and uncertainties of a jury trial, or be held hostage to the unreasonably high settlement demands employees' lawyers make when an employer telegraphs its fear of the jury trial process. You can avoid that predicament if you can win a "summary judgment" motion—i.e., a request that the court rule in your favor because there are no facts in dispute and you should win the case without a trial.

  • Parties must explicitly agree to court review of arbitration award's accuracy

    As part of a routine handbook acknowledgment, an employer and its employee entered into a binding arbitration agreement. Unhappy with the outcome after arbitrating an employment dispute, the employee appealed, asking the California Court of Appeal to review the arbitrator's decision. In an unpublished opinion issued on February 26, 2020, the court ruled that the parties didn't bargain for expanded judicial review, and the employee wasn't entitled to review of the award even if the arbitrator reached erroneous conclusions on a contested issue of law or fact.

  • California News in Brief

    Cisco Systems agrees to resolve pay discrimination. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced on March 16 that Cisco Systems Inc. had consented to an early resolution conciliation agreement to pay $2 million in lost wages and interest to affected employees in San Jose and provide at least $2.75 million in pay equity adjustments to its employees nationwide over the next five years. The DOL alleged that the company paid female, black, and Hispanic employees less than it paid comparable male and white employees performing similar jobs. A routine compliance evaluation by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs found the discrimination had been occurring since at least August 1, 2011.

  • Which state's employment laws apply to offshore workers?

    This case presents a rather unusual situation in which out-of-state workers performed their jobs on a ship that was docked at Port Hueneme, near Santa Barbara, and provided services to oil platforms located in federal waters off the coast of California. Three crew members filed a class action alleging the ship's owners failed to comply with California wage and hour laws, including paying minimum wage and overtime, providing meal and rest periods, furnishing accurate wage statements, and paying all wages due upon termination. But could the employees establish that California law even applied to their claims?

  • Be careful out there: You may be liable for a contractor's employee's injuries

    After Dynamex and Assembly Bill 5, the use of independent contractors has come under strict scrutiny in California. One of the situations that remains lawful involves business-to-business contracting arrangements—i.e., when one company (the "hirer") contracts with another company (the "contractor") to perform certain services. A common example of a business-to-business arrangement is when a hirer contracts with a catering company to provide food service to its employees or with a janitorial company to clean its offices. Another example common in the agricultural industry is when growers hire contractors to box and ship their products.

  • Political talk heating up at work? You have options

    In case you haven't noticed, it's an election year. And it's not just candidates sounding off on the campaign trail. Passionate—even angry—political talk also can spill into the workplace, leaving hurt feelings and lost productivity in its wake. You may feel wedged between the proverbial rock and a hard place as you try to keep the peace while striving to be respectful of employees who feel compelled to share their views. While no perfect strategy exists, you aren't helpless. Here are some ideas.

  • Legislative efforts taking on hairstyle discrimination

    Workplace discrimination based on hair? It may not be the first type of discrimination to come to mind as you strive to create fair and legally compliant workplaces, but hairstyle discrimination is beginning to get more attention. African Americans have noted that workplace appearance codes often insist on Eurocentric hairstyles. Styles that better conform to the natural hair texture of black people are often looked down on in the workplace. But that is starting to change, and the change includes legislation. California and New York have passed state laws prohibiting discrimination based on natural or protective hairstyles, and more states and local governments are considering similar measures.