California News & Analysis

  • Governor Brown signs significant #MeToo-inspired bills into law

    On September 30, 2018, the deadline for signing or vetoing all pending bills this legislative session, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law several significant bills inspired by the #MeToo movement. The new laws will require California employers to update existing agreements, policies, and procedures.

  • Can employer be held liable for injuries caused by employee after work hours?

    Late one evening in May 2013, Brittini Zuppardo was driving home from her boyfriend's house while talking on the phone with Michelle Halkett. Zuppardo is Esquire Deposition Solution's scheduling manager; Halkett is a court reporter for Esquire. Zuppardo's vehicle struck Jessica Ayon, who was crossing the street outside the crosswalk. Ayon suffered significant injuries. The issue in this case was whether Esquire could be held liable for Ayon's injuries.

  • Governor Brown approves more employment legislation on familiar subjects

    The California Legislature is prolific at passing new laws that affect employers each year. In addition to the employment laws covered in this month's lead article, several other new laws were recently approved by Governor Jerry Brown. It's important for employers to take note of these new laws.

  • Employer sues employee for filing suit in lieu of demanding arbitration

    Many employers in California have arbitration agreements that require employees to resolve any employment-related disputes through binding arbitration rather than in court before a judge or jury. Nevertheless, employees who sign arbitration agreements sometimes attempt to circumvent their agreements by filing lawsuits against their employers in court. When that happens, can the employer sue the employee for breach of the arbitration agreement?

  • ADA prohibits bias against employees who are 'regarded as' disabled

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their disabilities. A covered disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. That protection also extends to employees who are simply "regarded as" having a disability.

  • 9th Circuit agrees with DOL's interpretation of 'dual job' tip credit regulation

    The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay most of their employees the federal minimum wage, currently set at $7.25 per hour. One provision of the FLSA, however, allows employers to pay tipped employees as little as $2.13 per hour if they receive enough tips to make up the difference. But what happens when a worker spends time on tasks that don't generate tips, such as cleaning soft drink dispensers or restrooms, but still makes enough in tips so that his total earnings equal or exceed $7.25 per hour? The 9th Circuit recently answered that question.

  • 9th Circuit allows retired players to pursue lawsuit against NFL

    Retired NFL players sued the league, claiming it distributed controlled substances and prescription drugs to them in violation of state and federal laws and the manner in which the drugs were administered left them with permanent injuries and chronic medical conditions. The players contended that the NFL's actions were negligent and that the league was liable for negligently hiring and retaining incompetent persons to dispense the drugs, negligent misrepresentations, fraudulent concealment, fraud, and loss of consortium.

  • Requiring job applicant to pay for his own MRI violates ADA

    In a recent ruling, the 9th Circuit said BNSF Railway could not require a disabled applicant to pay for additional medical testing to determine if he could perform the job for which he applied.

  • California News in Brief

    $450,000 wage settlement reached with residential care business. The California Labor Commissioner's Office announced on September 17 that it had reached a settlement to recover more than $450,000 in wages, penalties, and interest for 15 residential care workers who suffered overtime and other wage theft violations. L'Chaim House agreed to make the payments after the state sued to block the San Rafael-based residential care business from transferring ownership of its real estate to evade penalties. A lien against the real estate will ensure the payments are made.

    An investigation was opened in December 2015 after workers at L'Chaim House's two locations reported labor law violations. Investigators audited 36 months of the employer's payroll records and found caregivers frequently worked more than 12 hours a day without receiving overtime pay.

    Garment contractors cited more than $570,000 for registration, labor law violations. The California Labor Commissioner's Office announced on September 5 that it had cited six garment contractors $573,704 for various labor law violations, including a scheme in which the contractors illegally operated under one license to avoid compliance. Investigators visited the worksite, operating under the name Pure Cotton, Inc., in a downtown Los Angeles building. According to the labor commissioner, four of the contractors didn't have valid workers' compensation coverage for their employees. Investigators found that most of the 57 employees at the building worked up to 65 hours a week for less than minimum wage. In addition, two minors who were 15 and 16 years old were operating industrial sewing machines in violation of California's child labor laws.

    Cal/OSHA issues citations in fatal waste collection truck accident. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) announced on September 20 that it had issued citations to GreenWaste Recovery Inc. after a waste collection worker was fatally run over by his own truck in San Jose. An investigation found that the employer failed to ensure the truck's safety restraint was in working order and didn't ensure it was being used by workers when they drove from the right side of the truck.

    On March 2, a GreenWaste worker gathering recyclables fell out of his truck and was run over as he was making a turn while operating the truck from the right side. Cal/OSHA's inspection determined that the safety chain for the truck cab opening couldn't be used because a part was missing. GreenWaste was issued two general and two serious accident-related citations totaling $46,270 in proposed penalties.

  • Supervisor's harsh words undermine employer's motion for summary judgment

    A nurse sued the Regents of the University of California, claiming he was retaliated against, harassed, and ultimately terminated because of his age and disability. The trial court dismissed some of the claims on summary judgment (i.e., without a trial). In an unpublished opinion, the court of appeal reversed the lower court's ruling in part, identifying questions of fact about whether the nurse's past medical leave was a motivating factor behind his termination.