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California Supreme Court to Address De Minimis Time

Last week, the California Supreme Court agreed to review Troester v. Starbucks, a case involving the issue of whether de minimis work time must be compensated under California law. In Troester, the plaintiff was a former employee of Starbucks who sued the coffee giant because he was not paid for certain closing-related activities such as time spent walking out of the store after activating the alarm and time spent locking the door -- activities that took a minute or two and effectively had to be performed after the plaintiff clocked out on Starbucks' timekeeping software. Plaintiff sued for unpaid wages under California law. A federal district court in California granted summary judgment in favor of Starbucks, ruling that this "work" time was de minimis and that Plaintiff was not owed compensation for it. Plaintiff appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

“Ban the Box” – California Employers Are Cautioned When Using Criminal Records in Hiring Decisions

By now, California employers are probably aware of the “Ban the Box” movement sweeping the nation. Lawmakers and government agencies aim to provide applicants with a fair chance at employment by eliminating conviction history inquiries in background checks, interviews, and applications. Over 100 cities and counties nationwide have adopted similar initiatives to prevent employers from inquiring about and then rejecting applicants from positions based on their criminal history. President Obama has even endorsed the hiring reform, requiring that federal agencies delay inquiries into criminal records.

San Diego Sick Leave Amendments: Cure for or Cause of Employer Ills?

San Diego’s Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance has been amended less than two months after its July 11, 2016 effective date.1 The amendments, instituted via the oddly-titled “Implementing Ordinance,” plug gaps the original law created, create an administrative enforcement system for receiving and resolving complaints, and impose additional obligations that require employers to review and potentially revise their notices, policies, and procedures. Below we briefly summarize the amendments, which will take effect September 2, 2016.2

California Fair Employment & Housing Council Considers Proposed (and Recently Amended) Rules to Restrict Employer Use of Criminal History

In April 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its long-awaited “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” (2012 Guidance). The updated guidance does not prohibit employers from using criminal records, but outlines what the EEOC considers recommended best practices, including a recommendation that employers, among other things: (1) remove from employment applications the question that asks job applicants to self-disclose their criminal record; (2) not make an employment decision based solely on the fact of an arrest record; and (3) conduct an “individualized assessment” before rejecting an applicant or terminating an employee because of a conviction.

California's Recreational Marijuana Initiative Is Not Expected To Impact Employer Workplace Drug Policies

California may be the next state to join Alaska, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Oregon and Washington in legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana. On November 8, 2016, California voters will decide whether to approve Proposition 64, the “Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act” (the Act), which would legalize recreational marijuana for individuals over the age of 21. If voters approve the Act, however, it is not expected to interfere with the right or ability of California employers to implement and enforce their workplace drug policies, including drug-testing policies.

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.

Recreational Marijuana Placed on California November Ballot

Voters will have the opportunity this coming November to determine whether California joins a growing number of states that have legalized recreational marijuana. If so, what would this mean for employers?

California Supreme Court on Arbitration Agreement Silent on Class Action Waivers

Does the court or the arbitrator decide whether the parties to an arbitration agreement intended class arbitration where the agreement does not contain an express class action waiver? The California Supreme Court responded that there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer and the issue is a matter of contract determined by state law contract interpretation principles.

Who Decides Whether Arbitration Will Include Class Claims? California High Court Says Ambiguous Agreements May Be Decided in Favor of Workers

Executive Summary: In a decision that will likely be seen as a win for employees, a sharply divided California Supreme Court ruled that the question of whether a court or an arbitrator decides if an arbitration agreement permits class claims should be determined on a case-by-case basis, specifically focusing on the agreement's terms and resolving any ambiguities in favor of the non-drafting party. Given the high stakes nature of class proceedings and limited review of arbitrators' rulings, we strongly recommend all employers seeking to avoid class arbitration have their agreements reviewed.

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.