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California Supreme Court: Franchisor MAY Be Liable for Franchisee's Employee's Sexual Harassment Claim*

Taylor Patterson, an employee at a Domino's franchise in southern California, sued her employer (called "Sui Juris LLC") and her former manager for sexual harassment. She also sued Domino's Pizza, LLC, the franchisor.

California eAuthority (August 2014)

California Supreme Court: Holding Franchisor Liable as Employer Depends on Level of Control Over Day-to-Day Employment Decisions; California Court Interprets Vague Language in Arbitration Agreement in Favor of Employee; California Legislative Update: August 2014; A Bird’s Eye View of the DFEH: An Interview with Patti Perez (Part 2); From the California Blog: Employer Required to Reimburse Employees for Personal Cell Phone Use Despite Unlimited Minutes Plans

California Court of Appeal Issues Expansive Expense Reimbursement Ruling

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:

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

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.


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

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.

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).

CA Governor Signs Two Wage-Hour Bills

Governor Jerry Brown signed a couple of wage-hour laws, which will take effect 1/1/15. Neither is earth-shattering, but affected employers take note:

Last 2014 Lap for the California Legislature

The California Legislature returned from its summer recess on August 4 for the sprint through the last days of the final year of the 2013-2014 session.

Back to School! Employers: Are You Ready for School-Related Leave for Parents?

The lazy days of summer are behind us this month as many children head back to school. Employers of parents with school-aged children should review California’s laws, which provide certain rights to employees to take time off from work to deal with school-related issues.