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ten most recent state employment law articles Ten Most Recent State Law Articles

California Court of Appeal Issues Expansive Expense Reimbursement Ruling

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • August 27, 2014
A California Court of Appeal recently issued a decision in Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Services, Inc., B247160 (Aug. 12, 2014) that took an expansive view of an employer’s obligation to reimburse employees’ business expenses. The trial court determined that no expense was incurred, and no reimbursement owed, unless the employee had to pay something out of pocket, above and beyond the expense to maintain the employee’s cell phone for personal use. The appellate court disagreed, finding that an employer is obligated to reimburse an expense, even if the employee has incurred no additional cost associated with the business use of the phone. In light of this decision, employers should conduct a careful and wide-ranging review of their reimbursement policies and take a hard look at what actually happens “in the field.” - See more at:

The Pacific N.W. Employer Fall 2014.

Jackson Lewis P.C. • August 27, 2014
The Pacific N.W. Employer Fall 2014.

California Employers Catch a Break From Unmanageable Wage and Hour Class Actions

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • August 26, 2014
In a significant decision that provides support for employers who are pushing back against plaintiffs’ attempts to litigate unmanageable wage and hour claims on a class-wide basis, a California federal court denied a motion for class certification in Ordonez v. RadioShack, Inc., a putative class action on behalf of current and former retail sales associates asserting a variety of claims, including claims for missed meal and rest breaks. The court denied plaintiff’s earlier motion for class certification on the grounds that some evidence of short, skipped, or late meal breaks could not answer the critical liability question of why the break was skipped, late or short, on a class-wide basis.

Final Rules Adopted Clarifying Employers’ Obligations under the New York City Earned Sick Time Act

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • August 25, 2014
The New York City Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA or the Act) went into effect on April 1, 2014, giving many New York City employees up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year.1 Since March, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) has provided guidance on its website concerning the ESTA. However, the DCA did not adopt Final Rules2 pursuant to the ESTA until the end of July.

Pennsylvania Opinion Highlights Need to Ensure Appropriate Geographic Scope and to Lay Groundwork for Protecting Interest in Specialized Training in Noncompetes

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • August 25, 2014
In Peter Zimmerman Architects, Inc. v. Toates, No. 3022 EDA 2013 (Aug.19, 2014), a firm specializing in custom, residential architecture sought to enforce a noncompetition agreement against a former employee and the new architectural firm he founded. As written, the noncompete would have prevented the former employee from (1) participating in the business of residential architecture for three years within an area extending 25 miles from the company’s office and (2) engaging in residential architecture for the renovation or new construction of one-of-a-kind properties for five years. The latter restriction had no geographic limit.

Employer Must Defend Against A Wrongful Death Lawsuit For Not Monitoring Employee Computer Use

Franczek Radelet P.C • August 25, 2014
An Illinois Appellate Court recently held that an employer must defend against a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that it was negligent in failing to investigate death threats that its employee had emailed to his family from his work computer, and not subsequently protecting the family from the husband’s threatened harm, which resulted in their death. Regions Bank v. Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc. 2014 IL App. (5th) 130193

Private Sector Employers in the District of Columbia Will Soon Be Required to Comply with a New Law Restricting Their Ability to Rely on Criminal Records for Employment Purposes

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • August 25, 2014
On August 22, 2014, the District of Columbia Mayor signed a new law restricting most employers that operate in the District of Columbia in their ability to rely on criminal history information, including criminal background records, for employment purposes. In fact, the new District of Columbia law is one of the few in the United States that restricts the ability of private sector employers to screen applicants on the front end (i.e., before an interview or an offer). The law does this by prohibiting employers from both inquiring about criminal history information during the application process and obtaining a criminal background check until after a conditional offer of employment is made to the applicant.


Shaw Valenza LLP • August 22, 2014
In recent years, Cal-OSHA has taken an aggressive stance against “heat illness” that can affect employees’ wellbeing. Employers who fail to provide adequate drinking water, shade, training, and/or “cool-down” periods to employees working in high heat conditions may be cited by Cal-OSHA and subjected to financial penalties. On January 1, 2014, the California Legislature amended Labor Code section 226.7 to increase penalties for an employer’s failure to provide “Cool Down Recovery Periods” to prevent heat exhaustion or stroke. This amendment likely will bolster Cal-OSHA’s enforcement of its heat illness prevention regulations. Employers therefore should be aware of when heat illness prevention laws apply and what they are required to do.

California Repeals 60-Day Limit on Health Insurance Waiting Periods

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • August 22, 2014
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), a “waiting period” is defined as the period that must pass before coverage for an individual who is otherwise eligible to enroll under the terms of a group health plan can become effective. The ACA prohibits group health plans and group health insurance issuers from imposing a waiting period that exceeds 90 days after an employee is otherwise eligible for health coverage. Generally, an individual is “eligible” to enroll in a health plan if he or she has met the plan’s substantive eligibility conditions, such as being in an eligible job classification, earning a certain level of commission, or satisfying a reasonable and bona fide employment-based orientation period. Once an individual is determined to be eligible for coverage under the terms of the health plan, the ACA’s final rule provides that a waiting period cannot exceed 90 days, including the enrollment date, weekends and holidays.

Employees in Maryland Can Now Get Treble Damages for Overtime Claims

FordHarrison LLP • August 22, 2014
Executive Summary: On August 13, 2014, the Maryland Court of Appeals held in Peters v. Early Healthcare Giver, Inc. that unpaid overtime wages are recoverable under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (MWPCL or "Wage Payment Act"). The ruling increases the potential liability for Maryland employers who misclassify their employees as exempt under the Maryland Wage and Hour Law (MWHL) and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employees who prove an entitlement to overtime pay can now seek an award of treble damages or three times the amount owed to them in unpaid overtime wages. Although an employer can avoid a treble damages award by proving that there was a good faith "bona fide dispute" over the validity of the employee's overtime claim, the court in Peters held that the employer has the burden of proof on the "bona fide dispute" issue.