California News & Analysis

  • Paying by piece rate: It's not a piece of cake in California

    California law allows employers to compensate their employees on a piece-rate basis, meaning workers are paid a specific amount for a specific task. The following case involves whether truck drivers who were paid by the load were properly compensated for all the hours they worked as required by California law. The court of appeal was asked to review the trial court's conclusion that the case wasn't suitable for resolution as a class action because individualized issues predominated over common ones.

  • Equitable tolling won't save your class (action)

    Wage and hour class actions are a favorite tool used by plaintiffs' attorneys to turn individual small-dollar claims into big bucks. In a victory for employers, a court of appeal recently overturned California precedent that allowed tolling (extending) of the statute of limitations for class claims from the date the putative class action was filed up to the time class certification was denied. Under past cases, as long as a putative class action was filed within the applicable statute of limitations, any class member could file a new action based on the same claims upon denial of class certification even if the new action was outside the limitations period. The new decision provides certainty that the statute of limitations for class claims truly does create a stopping point for class liability.

  • Taking the bounty out of the bounty hunter law

    California's Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) created new and serious risks for employers that commit Labor Code violations affecting individual employees. As if California law didn't already impose serious penalties on employers for Labor Code violations, the PAGA allows an aggrieved employee not only to claim extra penalties for Labor Code violations that affect him but also to claim penalties for every Labor Code violation on behalf of every one of his fellow employees. That extra penalty creates an almost extortionate motivation for settlement, threatening liability many times greater than what would be owed to an individual employee.

  • How to comply with conflicting certification requirements under FMLA and CFRA

    California employers must comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and, if there is a conflict, follow the law that is most beneficial to employees. This article provides tips on how to satisfy your medical certification obligations under those statutes.

  • A treatment plan for negative online employee reviews

    The Wall Street Journal recently reported on its discovery that, after analyzing millions of online reviews of various companies by their current and former employees, it appeared that more than 400 employers might be gaming the system. Each of the companies experienced unusually large single-month increases in the number of reviews posted by their employees to the jobs website Glassdoor. The surges tended to be disproportionately positive not only for the months in which they occurred but also by comparison to the surrounding months. The clear implication was that someone in a position of authority at the companies had spearheaded a campaign to get employees to post positive reviews to the site in an effort to counteract the overwhelmingly negative ones already posted.

  • OSHA reverses course on electronic reporting requirements

    In what has become a familiar refrain for anyone paying attention, the Trump administration has once again pulled back employment-related regulations that had been established or expanded during the Obama administration. This time, the regulations at issue required establishments that are subject to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) record-keeping requirements to submit information about work-related injuries and illnesses to OSHA electronically. To understand the significance of the change, a quick review of the nature and history of the agency's reporting requirements may be helpful.

  • Have you read your social media policy lately? Much has changed

    When is the last time you updated your social media policy? Does it still reference older social media sites like Bebo, MySpace, Digg, or about.me? Over the last several years, technology has undergone significant changes. You likely drafted many of your policies before the likes of Instagram and Snapchat even existed. As a result, it's probably time you revisited your policies.

  • CA Supreme Court slams door on wage claims against payroll companies

    Nearly a decade ago, when California employees first started filing claims for unpaid wages against independent payroll companies, the courts swiftly squashed their attempt to claim joint-employer liability. However, the door was left open as to whether employees could bring contract and negligence claims against the payroll companies responsible for issuing their paychecks under the third-party beneficiary doctrine. The California Supreme Court firmly shut that door as well in a recent ruling.

  • Firing drummer was a protected act of free expression

    We are often asked whether being an "at-will" employer means a company can terminate somebody for a discriminatory reason—for example, because she is a woman or a person of color. The answer is no. The at-will-employment doctrine does not protect employers from the consequences of discriminatory job actions. But the 2nd District Court of Appeal recently held that some employers may be immune from the consequences of discriminatory terminations.

  • 'Call-in' scheduling requires reporting-time pay

    At the root of the following case is the practice of "on-call"—or, more specifically, "call-in"—scheduling. The employer had a specific on-call scheduling practice: Employees were assigned on-call shifts but weren't told whether they should actually come in to work until they called in two hours before the scheduled start of their shifts. If they were told to come in, they would be paid for the shifts; if not, they didn't receive any compensation for having been on call. The court of appeal held that modern call-in scheduling is the same as "reporting to work" within the meaning of the governing Wage Order, and the trial court must therefore give the employees a chance to argue their complaint in court.