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Total Articles: 95

California on Brink of Further Expansion of Fair Pay Protections

California’s legislature is close to passing three bills to expand the state’s fair pay laws. The bills, introduced in early 2017, were designed to expand upon, or clarify, the amended California Fair Pay Act (CFPA).

The City of Los Angeles Quietly Updates Its Rules and FAQs Regarding the Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

The sick leave landscape is constantly evolving, and the City of Angeles is no exception to that rule. This past month the City of Los Angeles Office of Wage Standards (“OWS”) revised its rules and regulations (“Revised Rules”) as well the FAQs regarding its Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (the “Ordinance”).

California Court Approves $700,000 Settlement for Seating Claim Brought By Retail Employees

Executive Summary: The effects of the California Supreme Court’s latest interpretation to provide seating to workers are beginning to show, as the United States District Court for the Central District of California recently approved a $700,000 settlement against a major retail clothing company for failure to provide seating in a representative action involving the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, California Labor Code Section 2698, et seq., (PAGA).

California Court of Appeal Clarifies Wage Statement Requirements for Use of Unique Employee Numbers, Hourly Rates for PTO or Vacation

The California Court of Appeal has held that: (1) the use of payroll service provider generated unique employee file numbers on employee wage statements, in lieu of the employer’s internal employee identification number or last four digits of employee social security numbers, is legally permissible under California law; and (2) employers are not required to state applicable hourly rates for payments of accrued paid time off or vacation on exempt employee wage statements. Blaire v. Dole Food Co., No. B263695, 2017 Wage & Hour Cas.2d (BNA) 46,633 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 15, 2017) (unpublished).

California’s Expanding Fair Pay Act

The California Fair Pay Act (CFPA) took effect a little over a year ago (January 2016) but already has been expanded to

California Court Rejects Verbal Rent Credit Agreement, Finds Building Managers Are Not Exempt From Check Stub Law

On December 1, 2016, a California Court of Appeal, in an unpublished decision, issued a ruling addressing the scope of both California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order 5-2001’s minimum wage rent credit and California Labor Code Section 226’s wage statement exemption for household employees. Rolfes v. Mei (No. B266929).

Part-Time Employees Get First Chance at Extra Hours under New San José Ordinance

Employers in San José, California, must offer additional work hours to existing qualified part-time employees before hiring new employees beginning March 13, 2017, under the Opportunity to Work Ordinance.

California Wage/Hour Update (No. 1, January 2017)

The past several years have been a difficult time for many California employers when it comes to wage and hour compliance. But if enterprising plaintiffs’ attorneys have their way, times will get even worse in the coming years. By examining what we have experienced in the recent past along with current trends shaping the future of wage and hour law, you can be ready to handle the expected onslaught of new claims that could be heading your way.

California Employer Gets Landmark Criminal Conviction For Wage Theft

In a first-of-its-kind criminal conviction in California, a San Diego restaurant owner has been sentenced to two years in jail for promising wages to immigrant workers but paying them only in tips. San Diego County Superior Court also ordered the employer to repay $20,000 in stolen wages and tips to six of the restaurant workers.

San Jose, California Ordinance Aims to Increase Job Opportunities for Low-Income Workers

San Jose, California voters have approved the Opportunity to Work ordinance, which is intended to provide part-time, low-income workers with more job opportunities that will help them increase their earnings and access benefits. Under the new ordinance (aka Measure E on the San Jose ballot), before certain employers may hire new part-time or temporary workers, they will be required to offer additional hours of work to current part-timers who they believe have the skills and experience to do the work. According to Silicon Valley Rising, the group that authored the ordinance, the measure will curtail the practice of large- and medium-sized Silicon Valley employers limiting workers' hours to avoid paying for health insurance and other benefits (like paid sick days).

California Employers Issuing W-2 or 1099 Must Revise Earned Income Tax Credit Notice

For several years, California employers have been required to notify employees regarding the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. Beginning January 1, 2017, new California law (AB 1847) requires those same employers to also notify employees that they may be eligible for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (“EITC”).

Twice in Two Years: California Expands the Fair Pay Act for the Second Consecutive Year

Starting January 1, 2017, companies of all sizes doing business in California will need to take extra care to ensure they are not paying employees differently based on their race or ethnicity or basing new employees’ compensation solely on their prior salary. California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed two pieces of legislation that significantly expand the state’s recently revamped Fair Pay Act (FPA). Employers seeking to reduce legal risk amid the growing pay equity movement should take note.

Soto v. Motel 6 Operating, L.P.: Employees’ Wage Statements Need Not Include Accrued Vacation Time Prior to Termination

All California employers should know by now that if they have a paid vacation policy, the vacation benefits constitute a form of “wages” under California law. (See Murphy v. Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. (2007) 40 Cal.4th 1094, 1103; Suastez v. Plastic Dress-Up Co. (1982) 31 Cal.3d 774, 784.) California employers are also likely readily familiar with the requirements of Labor Code section 226(a), which require employees’ wage statements to contain certain information, including gross wages earned.

Monetary Amount of Accrued Vacation Need Not Be Included on Wage Statements

As election day approaches, employers are reminded that California law requires them to post a notice 10 days before the election informing employees of their voting rights under state law. Specifically, employees must be informed that if they do not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote, they may take off enough working time that, when added to the voting time available outside of working hours, will enable them to vote. Up to two hours of this time must be paid. The employer can require that the time off for voting be taken at the beginning or end of the employee's shift, whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from the regular working shift.

New Laws Enhance California’s Equal Pay Act

On September 30, 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law two bills designed to address ongoing concern of pay inequity. A.B. 1676 amends the California Fair Pay Act by prohibiting employers from relying on an employee’s prior salary to justify a disparity between the salaries of similarly situated employees. S.B. 1063 extends the Fair Pay Act by providing additional protections on the basis of race and ethnicity. A.B. 1676 and S.B. 1063 are effective January 1, 2017.

California’s New Fair Pay Act: Employer’s Compliance Action Plan

In this podcast, Littler Shareholder Bruce Sarchet provides historical insight into California’s Fair Pay Act and breaks down the recent major changes in the law. He discusses the impact of those changes on your workplace now, and what specific steps you can be taking to help limit liability in this area. Bruce’s basic, nuts and bolts approach to breaking down the Fair Pay Act will help your team make sense of this otherwise confusing law, and his five action steps will provide guidance to all employers to develop an approach to the challenges presented by this revised law.

California Legislature Adds Extra Set Of Teeth To Fair Pay Act’s Protections

On September 30, 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Wage and Equality Act of 2016 (SB 1063) into law, which will prohibit employers from paying employees of one race or ethnicity a lower wage than employees of different races or ethnicities. The bill is a virtually verbatim extension of the Fair Pay Act’s requirements that apply between workers of opposite genders. It will go into effect on January 1, 2017.

California Agricultural Industry Wage Pains Not Just A Phase

On September 12, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed the Phase-In Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act of 2016 (AB 1066) into law, providing more stringent overtime protections for agricultural workers. California law currently requires that employers only pay agricultural workers overtime when they work more than 10 hours in a day, but under the new law, sponsored by the United Farm Workers’ union, employer compensation obligations will increase considerably.

Wage and Hour Self-Audit: Five Steps To California Compliance

In this podcast, Littler Shareholder Bruce Sarchet unveils his personal “5-Step Self-Audit” process to help California employers and Human Resources departments avoid wage and hour class actions and related claims. Although Bruce’s process will not guarantee that your company won’t get sued, it will provide an overview of wage and hour litigation along with a very short and simple way to double check your compliance efforts. Bruce’s methodology can help reduce the chance that you are hit with a wage and hour claim in the first place.

California Cities and Counties Can Now Join the Effort to Enforce State and Local Wage Payment Laws

California S.B. 1342 is a new law which allows cities and counties to work with the California Division of Labor Standards enforcement (“DLSE”) to enforce wage payment laws. The new measure was intended to give local enforcement programs the tools required to conduct wage claim investigations in order to recover unpaid wages including the ability to issue subpoenas. The law encourages cities and counties to develop specific measures to target and remedy wage theft. Many cities have already adopted city minimum wage and paid sick leave laws and the list is growing.

California Assembly Bill 2535 Further Limits the California Pay Stub Requirement for Reporting Total Hours Worked

On July 22, 2016, the Governor approved California Assembly Bill 2535 (“AB 2535”), which relates to itemized wage statements (more commonly known as pay stubs). Specifically, AB 2535 revises California Labor Code Section 226. The prior version of Labor Code Section 226 required employers to include on a pay stub total hours worked by the employee unless the employee was paid a salary and exempt from overtime. AB 2535 expands on Labor Code Section 226 and alters reporting requirements by asserting that employers do not need to report total hours worked on a pay stub for employees who are “exempt from the payment of minimum wage and overtime” under specified statutes or any applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission.

Employers Subject to California Prevailing Wage Beware! California Will Resume Enforcement of The Requirement To Electronically Submit Certified Payroll Records

On July 20, 2016, California Department of Industrial Relations (“DIR”) issued a press release stating DIR enforcement of a contractor and subcontractor’s requirement to submit certified payroll records(“CPRs”) using DIR’s online system will resume on August 1. DIR clarified that the requirement to keep CPRs has not changed. Previously, DIR suspended enforcement of filing CPRs electronically because of problems with the system and improvements.

Are My California Pay Stubs Compliant?

Nearly all California employment wage and hour class action lawsuits assert a cause of action under California Labor Code Section 226 as plaintiffs’ attorneys almost always automatically include such cause of action when there are other alleged underlying wage violations, i.e. failure to pay overtime.

California Wage/Hour Update (No. 3, July 2016)

California employers continue to struggle with how to comply with their obligation to provide meal and rest periods to their non-exempt employees.

What Do the Obama Administration’s Overtime Regulations Mean for California Employers?

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its long-anticipated revisions to the federal overtime regulations governing the so-called white-collar exemptions to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Most notably, the revisions more than double the minimum salary threshold needed to qualify for the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions. The revised regulations also make other significant changes to the amounts that must be paid, including allowing employers to count nondiscretionary bonuses and commissions to satisfy a portion of the salary threshold, scheduling automatic adjustments to the salary threshold every three years, and increasing the annual salary threshold for the “highly compensated employee” exemption. Fortunately, the new regulations do not make changes to the duties tests for the white-collar exemptions. The new regulations will go into effect on December 1, 2016.

A Typo In Your Paystubs Could Cost You Millions

Imagine being sued by every single one of the employees who worked for you over the past four years because your paystubs have an extra comma in your company’s name. Or because the zip code is missing from your company’s address. Or perhaps because the paystub includes the pay period end date but not the beginning date.

Santa Monica Jumps on the Minimum Wage and Sick Leave Bandwagon

With little fanfare or advance notice, Santa Monica, California, became the latest municipality to enact its own minimum wage and sick leave ordinance (“Ordinance”), proposed by the City Council on January 12, 2016, and approved shortly thereafter on January 26, 2016.

A New Year’s Resolution for California Employers: Fair Pay Act Compliance

California employers are preparing for the effects the Fair Pay Act—the new law signed by Governor Brown last October that significantly changes California’s gender equality pay law. Senate Bill 358 (SB 358), which went into effect on January 1, 2016, requires employers to pay employees of the opposite sex equivalent wages for “for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.” This is a significant change from the law’s former requirement that employees of the opposite sex receive equal pay for “equal work.”

California’s New Piece-Rate Compensation Requirements and a New Affirmative Defense Take Effect January 1, 2016

On October 10, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1513, which added new requirements with regard to employees who work on a piece-rate basis. The new law, which amends California Labor Code section 226.2, changes the way employers are required to pay employees paid on a piece-rate basis. The new section 226.2 goes into effect on January 1, 2016.

Pair of Decisions On FLSA Retaliation and Work Comp Retaliation

Two new employment decisions were issued today, one by a California Court of Appeal and the other by the Ninth Circuit. In Prue v. Brady Company, the California court held that a plaintiff who suffered a work-related injury and subsequently was fired stated a valid legal claim against the employer for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. The employer argued that the plaintiff’s claim was invalid because it effectively was a Labor Code section 132a retaliation claim that could only be brought before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, not in court. The court disagreed, reasoning that the plaintiff adequately alleged that he was wrongfully terminated for having a disability, in violation of the public policy of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, and therefore the claim was not barred by the doctrine of workers’ compensation exclusivity. The employer argued that even if the claim was based on the public policy of FEHA, the claim would be barred by the one-year statute of limitations applicable to FEHA claims. The court rejected this argument as well, ruling that a wrongful termination in violation of public policy claim is governed by a two-year statute of limitations and not by the statute of limitations applicable to FEHA claims. This decision is not particularly novel, but is a good reminder for employers that employees who believe they have been fired for reasons relating to a work comp injury can sue their employer in court and seek punitive damages (under a disability discrimination theory) and are not limited to the remedies set forth in Labor Code 132a.

What You Need To Know About California's Amended Fair Pay Act That Takes Effect January 1, 2016

Executive Summary: California's amended Fair Pay Act goes into effect on January 1, 2016, and is considered the most stringent law in the nation. The new law received broad support from both Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature. It arises out of their finding that "in 2014, the gender wage gap in California stood at 16 cents on the dollar. A woman working full time year round earned an average of 84 cents to every dollar a man earned. This wage gap extends across almost all occupations reporting in California. This gap is far worse for women of color; Latina women in California make only 44 cents for every dollar a white male makes, the biggest gap for Latina women in the nation." California's equal pay law has been on the books since 1949, and prohibited employers from paying a woman less than a man when they are both doing "equal work" at the same establishment. The amended law requires equal pay for "substantially similar work." (The law specifically prohibits discrimination based on sex, but in light of the Legislature's focus on the gender wage gap, this article addresses pay discrimination allegations made by women.)

California CFPA: Shifts Burden of Proof to Employers in Equal-Pay Disputes

California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. recently signed into law the California Fair Pay Act (CFPA) (Senate Bill 358). The CFPA, which takes effect on January 1, 2016, is intended to increase wage transparency and will be one of the strongest equal-pay laws in the country.

Sacramento Minimum Wage Increases

Anyone paying attention to national politics knows increasing the minimum wage is a hot topic being debated by employee and business groups. While the debate rages, the Sacramento City Council decided not to wait for the feds or the state to act, and recently voted 6-3 to increase the Sacramento city minimum wage, as follows:

California Court Deems Truck Drivers Employees, Not Independent Contractors

Companies that classify workers as independent contractors are facing increasing scrutiny in court and before administrative agencies. A recent unpublished California Court of Appeal decision in a case titled Garcia v. Seacon Logix, Inc. highlights the factors considered by a court in determining worker status.

California Strengthens Current Equal Pay Law – Is This Fair Warning to Employers in Other States?

With the recent passage of the California Fair Pay Act, California strengthened its existing equal pay law by requiring employers pay men and women the same for not only “equal work,” but also for “substantially similar work.” As a result, employees may now challenge the fairness of their pay by drawing comparisons to “substantially similar” jobs with different titles.

California Equal Pay Law Changes Have Big Implications

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a flurry of bills into law, but the most notable includes significant changes to the state's equal pay statute. California law and federal law already required equal pay to employees of the opposite sex for equal work. But this new measure goes much further, leading Governor Brown to call it, "The strongest equal pay law in the nation."

California Expands Fair Pay Act Protections

Requiring employers to prove an employee’s higher pay is determined on factors other than gender and allowing workers to sue if they are paid less than co-workers of a different gender with different job titles doing “substantially similar” work highlight California’s expanded Fair Pay Act (SB 358), signed by Governor Jerry Brown on October 6, 2015.

California Governor Signs AB 1513, Severely Limiting Piece-Rate Compensation but Throwing a Liability Life Raft to Employers

On October 10, 2015, Governor Edmund Gerald Brown, Jr. signed into law legislation that re-writes the definition and rules governing the payment of piece-rate compensation in California. Assembly Bill (AB) 1513 creates new California Labor Code section 226.2 and sets forth requirements for the payment of a separate hourly wage for “nonproductive” time worked by piece-rate employees, and separate payment for rest and recovery periods to those employees.

Ninth Circuit Addresses When Commuting Time May Be Compensable Under California Labor Code and What Must be Included in a PAGA Notice

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently addressed the compensability of commute time under the California Labor Code and the content required in a Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) letter.

New California Law Eases Employees’ Burdens in Proving Gender-Based Pay Claims and Creates Additional Protections for Employees to Discuss Their Wages

On October 6, 2015 Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 358 (“SB 358”), a law that substantially eases California employees’ burden in proving gender-based pay claims. This law also increases the number of years that employers must retain employee records, and creates additional protections for employees who wish to discuss or disclose their wages.

Legislative Update: Fair Pay Act, Right to Cure Wage Statement Defects, Paid Sick Leave, and More

As California’s current legislative process heads into its final days, we have a few updates on employment-related matters relating to paid sick leave, wage statement violations, meal period waivers in the health care industry, and the Fair Pay Act.

California Passes Law Aimed to Bridge the Gender Wage Inequality Gap

On October 6, 2015, California's Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 358, legislation intended to increase wage transparency and which will make it more difficult for an employer to defend against an equal pay claim. This measure, which amends Section 1197.5 of the California Labor Code relating to private employment, will take effect on January 1, 2016. When it takes effect, California's law on this subject will be one of the strongest equal pay laws in the nation.

New California Law Allows Employers to Correct Wage Statements to Avoid Litigation—Review Your Wage Statements Now

On October 2, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1506 (AB 1506). The new law amends the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) to allow employers the right to “cure” certain commonly litigated defects in employee wage statements within 33 days of notice by the employee in order to avoid litigation. The cure provisions for wage statements, which can be onerous, apply only to California Labor Code section 226(a)(6)—which requires employers to specify the inclusive dates of the period for which the employee is paid—and section 226(a)(8) —which requires employers to state the name and address of the “legal entity” that is the employer. AB 1506 is urgency legislation and therefore effective immediately.

How Employers Can Combat Timecard Fraud And Employee Wage Theft

There is nothing so central to wage-hour laws than the sacred domain of “hours worked.” The concept is simple: employees record the time they spend working, and from this data employers generate labor budgets and employee pay checks.

California Labor Commissioner Issues $2.2 Million in Wage Theft Citations

California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su issued more than $2.2 million in citations to the owners of three residential care facilities for what were deemed "egregious" wage theft violations.

$15.00 California Minimum Wage Initiative Will Likely Appear on 2016 Ballot

A union's efforts to increase the minimum wage in California to $15.00 per hour by 2021 has cleared a major hurdle.

Another City Hops Aboard The $15 Minimum Wage Trend

Los Angeles recently took a big step towards becoming the latest city to adopt the $15 per hour band wagon. Draft minimum wage and wage enforcement ordinances made their way through the Los Angeles City Council and City Attorney’s offices in May and June. Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, formally signed the ordinances into law on June 13.

Copycat Ordinance: Los Angeles County to Adopt $15 Minimum Wage Similar to Recent Los Angeles Citywide Ordinance

On July 21, 2015, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion directing County Counsel to prepare a “Countywide Minimum Wage Ordinance” to incrementally increase the minimum wage for Los Angeles County employees and employees working in unincorporated areas within the county. The motion calls for raising the minimum wage in ways that match the recently enacted Los Angeles City Minimum Wage Ordinance.1 If the county follows through, both Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County would require all covered employers to provide a minimum wage of $15 per hour by 2021.

Ninth Circuit Finds That Insurance Claims Adjusters Are Exempt Administrative Employees Under California Law

Applying California’s administrative exemption test, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently concluded an insurance company properly classified its claims adjusters (who handled and processed disability claims) as exempt from the overtime provisions of the California Labor Code, notwithstanding the clerical duties the adjusters performed and their characterization of their work as “routine”. See Bucklin v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12497 (9th Cir. July 20, 2015).

Cheerleaders in California Have Something to Cheer About!

On July 15, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 202, which requires California-based minor or major league sport teams in certain sports to treat cheerleaders as employees, not independent contractors.

California Appellate Court Holds Employer Must Withhold Taxes on Back Pay

On June 26, 2015, a California appellate court rendered a precedential opinion1 that should hopefully put to rest the issue of whether an employer must withhold taxes on settlements or judgments made to former employees in employment-related litigation. The case, Cifuentes v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, is typical of many of these kinds of employment-related disputes. The plaintiff won a judgment for lost wages against his former employer, which then withheld federal and state payroll taxes from the award. The former employee claimed the judgment was not satisfied, citing to Lisec v. United Airlines.2

Yet Another Municipal-Level Paid Sick Leave Measure Passes in California

In addition to implementing a minimum wage rate increase, the ordinance that the Emeryville City Council unanimously approved on June 2, 2015 will provide paid sick leave to employees in Emeryville—over and above what is already provided to employees under state law. The “Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave, And Other Employment Standards” ordinance includes a provision—similar to that of the San Francisco and Oakland paid sick leave laws—requiring employers to allow employees to designate a non-family member for whom they may use their sick leave. It also permits employees to take leave to care for an ill guide dog, signal dog, or service dog. Below are the key components of the new law.

$15 Per Hour Minimum Wage? Los Angeles and Emeryville Give Seattle a Run for the Money

On May 19, 2015, the Los Angeles City Council voted, 14-to-1, to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour in increments over the next five years. As a result, the city council will draft a proposal to raise the wage rate from $9.00 per hour to $15.00 per hour by 2020.

California Supreme Court Agrees to Consider Whether California Health Care Workers Can Lawfully Waive a Second Lunch Period

This week, the California Supreme Court agreed to review the decision in Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Center, No. G048039 (February 10, 2015), where the California Court of Appeal partially invalidated the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) wage order provision that allows employees in the health care industry to waive one of two required meal periods on shifts longer than eight hours.

California-Specific Webinar Highlights Pressing Handbook Issues

California employers face a host of unique employment law issues at both the state and local levels that must be taken into account when developing, implementing and enforcing employee handbooks. Littler Mendelson employment attorneys Chris Cobey and Ben Emmert, of the firm’s San Jose office, explored those challenges during a recent XpertHR webinar. After the webinar, Emmert provided answers to some key California-specific questions.

Beware of How you Pay Your Employees You May Pay More

Todd Scherwin and Jonathan Liu’s article “Beware of How you Pay Your Employees You May Pay More” was featured in California Clubs of Distinction’s Third Quarter Newsletter.

It's Payback Time: Reimbursement Of Employee Expenses Is A Hot Issue In California

As class actions continue to plague employers in California, one area that is often overlooked is expense reimbursement. The California Labor Code makes clear that employers must indemnify employees for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred as a direct consequence of discharging their duties, or obedience to the directions of the employer. This is so even if the duty is unlawful, unless the employee, at the time of obeying the directions, believed them to be unlawful.

Federal Court Limits California's Wage-Hour Laws

Three years ago, the California Supreme Court addressed the scope of California’s overtime regulations contained in the California Labor Code and Wage Orders promulgated by its Industrial Welfare Commission. Sullivan et al v. Oracle Corporation. The Supreme Court held that work performed in California by nonresident employees of Oracle was covered by the California Labor Code.

California Appellate Court Rules That California’s Prevailing Wage Laws Do Not Apply to Off-Site Fabrication

On August 27, 2014, the California Court of Appeal issued its decision in the long-anticipated Russ-Will case, Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association, Local 104 v. Duncan; Russ Will Mechanical, Inc., Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District, Division Three, No. A131489 (August 27, 2014). The court held that the California prevailing wage law does not apply to employees who fabricate materials for a public works project at a permanent, offsite manufacturing facility that is not exclusively dedicated to the project. It is a published decision, which means it is binding upon the California trial courts, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Employer Required to Reimburse Employees for Personal Cell Phone Use Despite Unlimited Minutes Plans

Cell phones are ubiquitous. At some companies, employees use their personal phones to make business calls. Does an employer need to “pay” for that use of the phone, even if the employee did not incur any extra expenses for doing so? Yes, according to an appellate court in a recent California case, Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc., Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Two, No. B247160 (August 12, 2014).

Motor Carriers Face Uphill Battle After California Supreme Court Decision

Harris v. Pac Anchor Transportation, Inc., No. S194388 (July 28, 2014): In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court has held that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) does not preempt an action brought under California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) when the action does not relate to the prices, routes, or services of a motor carrier with respect to the transportation of property. As a result, the state of California can proceed with its action against a trucking company and its owner for allegedly misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors and for other alleged violations of California’s labor and unemployment insurance laws.

California Supreme Court: Undocumented Worker May Recover Lost Wages for Period Up to Employer’s Discovery of Immigration Status

Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., S196568 (June 26, 2014): On June 26, the California Supreme Court issued a decision holding that federal immigration law does not preempt a California law that extends state law protections to all workers regardless of their immigration status. However, the court held that federal law does preempt state law on the issue of liability for lost wages for any period after an employer discovers that an employee is not authorized to work in the United States.

The Alternative-Workweek: Oasis Or Mirage?

California employers are acutely aware of the typical schedule worked by employees: eight hours a day, five days a week. As we have become accustomed to doing, California law generally requires employers to pay employees overtime wages for hours worked in excess of eight hours during any 24-hour period. But in many cases, limiting employees to working only eight hours a day is not the most convenient for either the employee or the Company. End of the story? Not so fast.

Happy 2014 – Gear Up For New Wage And Hour Laws

As the new year begins, California employers, already weary from added wage and hour laws and regulations enacted over the past several years, have yet more to comply with. Here are the highlights.

How the New California Laws Will Impact Your Business in 2014 and Beyond, Part 1: Wage and Hour Legislation

In 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law approximately 9 out of 10 bills presented to him. This three-part blog series summarizes the new legislation and captures the key employment law related bills that are likely to affect the most private employers in California. The first part of this series focuses on the newly-signed wage and hour legislation in California. Parts two and three will focus on the EEO, disability, leave, and immigration-related bills that the governor recently signed. Unless otherwise specified, all of the newly enacted legislation will become effective on January 1, 2014.

California's Regular Rate: Getting It Right Can Save Money

With the increasing focus on wage-and-hour litigation, the issue of an employee’s “regular rate” arises in most every case involving alleged unpaid overtime. It also factors into an employer’s payroll, each and every pay period. Here’s a brief roadmap through this sometimes rocky terrain.

California Increases Minimum Wage Next Year October 1, 2013

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that will increase California’s minimum wage in two phases. Beginning July 1, 2014, the minimum wage for California employees will rise from the current $8 per hour to $9 per hour. On January 1, 2016, the minimum wage will increase to $10 per hour.

BREAKING NEWS: California’s Minimum Wage Goes Up—But There Are Some Pitfalls Employers Need to Avoid

Minimum wage earners across the state are celebrating.

California State Supreme Court Denies Review Of Piece-Rate Case: Lower Court Ruling To Stand

The California Supreme Court denied review of a California Court of Appeal case, which held that piece-rate-paid employees are entitled to separate hourly pay for “waiting” time. Gonzalez v. Downtown LA Motors.

Managerial Exemption And Class Actions

On March 20, 2013 a California Appellate court reinforced the fact that employees who attempt to certify class claims of “misclassification” of exempt employees (and related meal- and rest-period claims) face an uphill battle. William Dailey v. Sears, Roebuck and Company.

Is It OK To "Round" An Employee's Worktime?

For many years, some employers have chosen to "round" non-exempt employees' time entries in computing their wages. News items in recent days have reported on a California appellate court's ruling in See's Candy Shops, Inc. v. Superior Court and Silva that a properly administered "rounding" practice does not violate California wage-hour law.

Decision Provides Greater Flexibility In Scheduling Meetings

Employers in California have been perplexed by various state regulations that have confusing and inconsistent provisions. One regulation addresses the "reporting-time" premium which requires employers to pay a minimum amount of hourly wages when employees report to work. Different standards apply depending on whether an employee reports for the first or second time within a single calendar work day.

Good News, Bad News: Appeals Court Clarifies Penalties For Violations Of Wage Orders

The California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, handed employers a mixed blessing in a recent case, holding that employees cannot make a Private Attorneys General Action (PAGA) claim based upon alleged violations of Industrial Wage Commission (IWC) Wage Orders. Rather, PAGA claims can only be based upon statutory rights.

Landmark Decision Limits "Reporting-Time" Pay and Clarifies "Split-Shift" Premium Requirements

A California appellate court has just handed down a major decision on reporting-time pay in California, limiting situations where such pay would be due, and rejecting an enforcement guideline used by the California Labor Commissioner. The court also clarified the law regarding split-shift premiums. Michael Aleman, et al v. AirTouch Cellular.

"Wage Theft Prevention Act" Takes Effect January 1, 2012

A recently-passed piece of California legislation that will impact employers is the Wage Theft Prevention Act of 2011 (WTPA), which takes effect January 1, 2012. This law adds a new section to the Labor Code and is similar to a law passed in New York this year.

The 9th Circuit Does Their Part On Oracle Case, Extending California Labor Laws

One of the issues that I think has the potential to cause a lot of trouble for employers is the application of one state's labor and employment laws to employee who travel to work in another state. In today's mobile world that is a lot of folks, especially employees located near state borders.

Appeals Court To Employee: "You're Kidding Us, Right?"

California's Sixth Appellate District recently issued a decision upholding an employer's right to modify the compensation terms of an at-will employment agreement where the employee never made a written protest to the modification and the employee continued to accept the modified compensation offered. Foust v. San Jose Construction Company, Inc.

How Do You Recapture Debt From An Employee's Final Paycheck? Very Carefully

Employers continue to be challenged with claims from terminated employees who received payroll deductions for debts they owed the employer. In a recent case employees brought a collective action in a California federal court seeking remedies for violations of California law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for deductions taken from their final pay checks for debt balances. The federal court ruled in favor of the company on all claims.

New Ruling Makes It More Difficult To Avoid Seventh-Day Premium

A recent California appellate decision precludes California employers from defining workweeks under a recurring work schedule that avoids payment of the "seventh day" premium. Seymore v. Metson Marine.

"Pay Stub" Rulings Continue

Earlier this year, a case reinforced yet again the need for employers to pay close attention to the specific requirements of the California Labor Code – this time, the itemized wage statement requirement in Labor Code section 226(a). Heritage Residential Care, Inc. v. Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Labor Commissioner Hearings Cannot Be Waived By Arbitration Agreements

The Labor Code gives aggrieved employees the right to file a claim for unpaid wages and other similar violations with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. These claims are decided by a deputy labor commissioner in an administrative hearing, sometimes called a "Berman" hearing. The process is more streamlined than a proceeding in court, and is "designed to provide a speedy, informal, and affordable method of resolving wage claims." If either party does not agree with the deputy labor commissioner's decision, they can appeal to the superior court in a process called a "trial de novo."

Several Recent Wins for California Employers in Wage and Hour Cases

In the past few weeks, appellate courts in California have issued a number of opinions in wage and hour cases, which have been helpful to employers. As all too many of our clients are aware, we have seen an explosion in the number of such cases filed in our trial courts. And, as these cases make their way through the litigation process, we also are seeing this subject predominate at the appellate level. While it seems we mostly bring you bad news on this topic, in this issue we recap four cases that will be helpful to employers as they mount their defenses to wage and hour claims.

Employers on the Hot Seat

Employers with a California presence already know that they need to monitor their wage and hour practices carefully. Now that many employers have reached compliance in areas such as meal- and rest-period laws, plaintiff attorneys are on the prowl for new battlegrounds for litigation. For example, two recent California appellate decisions added yet another hurdle for California employers to leap and additional fuel for employees (and their lawyers) looking to file class actions.

Avoiding California Wage & Hour Class Action Suits

Most employers with business operations in states outside of California are generally aware of the employment practices that can lead to collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These include:

Dealing With The Labor Commissioner.

California wage/hour law is governed by the California Labor Code, the Industrial Welfare Commission's Wage Orders, and appellate or California Supreme Court decisions which interpret these laws. These laws are enforced by the California Labor Commissioner. Any employer doing business in California must be familiar with the Labor Commissioner's enforcement agency, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). This article takes a closer look at an employer's dealings with the Labor Commissioner.

State Supreme Court Clarifies The Definition Of "Employ"

Recently the California Supreme Court held that third-party merchants were not "employers" as defined by the Industrial Welfare Commission, in part because they did not control the conditions of employment for the subject agricultural employees (strawberry pickers), i.e., did not hire them, fire them, or even have a right to tell them what to do or direct their work. The practical effect in this litigation was that the employees could not obtain unpaid wages from third-party merchants after the uncontested employer became insolvent. Martinez v. Combs.

Avoiding "Reporting-Time" Claims.

In California, conditions of employment, including standards governing compensation, are set forth in the Wage Orders promulgated by the Industrial Welfare Commission. These Wage Orders are generally given legal effect to the extent that they are consistent with the California Labor Code. Unfortunately, many of these provisions go unheeded by employers despite the fact that they are published in the California Code of Regulations and have been in effect for many years.

Defending Wage Claims Before the California Labor Commissioner.

Most employers doing business in California are familiar with wage claims brought by current or former employees before the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), which is the state agency charged with enforcing the California Labor Code and the state's wage-hour laws and regulations. This article highlights the rules and procedures in defending a wage claim in California.

Some Key Points for Wage/Hour Compliance.

Whether the economy is still declining or on the rebound, one thing is clear: the storm of wage & hour litigation continues to buffet employers, an increasing trend that began long before the current recession and plague of unemployment in California. Two key historical facts have contributed significantly to the rise of such litigation in California beginning this decade.

Big Win for Employers in Wage-Hour Litigation: Punitive Damages Ruled Improper

On December 3, 2008, in a long-awaited decision, the California Court of Appeals for the Fourth Appellate District addressed the issue of punitive damages in the context of a wage-and-hour lawsuit. This case represents a victory for employers in an area where the laws and penalties in California tend to be draconian.

Pay Stub Payoffs: Check Yours Now to Make Sure You're in Compliance.

There is a California law which costs employers millions of dollars each year, all of which could be avoided with almost no effort on the employer's part – no lengthy training, no notices to post, and no changes to employee handbooks.

California - New Law Changes Frequency of Payment To Temp Workers.

On July 22, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill 940 which will change payroll practices applicable to "temporary service" workers. Under the new law, which will go into effect in January of next year, temporary service agencies must pay temps every week instead of every other week. The law also requires agencies to pay temps daily when they work for a client on a “day-to-day basis.” The new legislation creates another exception for workers on an assignment “for over 90 consecutive calendar days.” The weekly payment requirement does not apply to these employees unless their employers pay them weekly.

The California "Multiplier Effect": How Small Wage and Hour Violations Create Big Class Settlements in California.

Employers sued in California wage and hour class actions are all too familiar with the State’s “multiplier effect.” What is the California “multiplier effect,” you ask? Simply put, it is a small wage payment violation (e.g., for non-payment of overtime hours or off-the-clock work), that can trigger a range of penalties under the California Labor Code far exceeding the value of the original unpaid wage amount. In wage and hour class actions, minor wage violations can cost employers millions.

California Wage & Hour: Understanding The "Tool Rate".

California employers are increasingly being challenged on whether they properly compensate and reimburse employees for usage of the employee's money or property in the course and scope of the employee's employment. Courts continuously acknowledge the California Legislature's intent that employers should not pass the cost of doing business onto employees such that the employees bear losses or incur expenses in conjunction with their employment.

Important Change to California's Pay Statement Requirements, Effective January 1, 2008.

As the New Year approaches, California employers should be mindful of an important change that will take effect on January 1, 2008, relating to information that can be listed on employee pay statements. Under California Labor Code section 226, employers must include certain itemized information on each employee’s pay statement. (This information must be provided separately for each pay period when the wages are paid by personal check or cash.)
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