California’s Secretary of State recently clarified whether an employer may use a notary public as its authorized representative to complete the Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification.
Articles Discussing General Workplace Issues in California.
Jackson Lewis Shareholder Punam Sarad will serve as a panelist at the Bay Area Employer 411: What You Need to Know About the New Laws on Equal Pay, Fair Scheduling and Slavery-Free Supply Chains Conference hosted by the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, Department of Labor/Women’s Bureau, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and American Association of University Women/San Francisco Branch. The panel will be followed by a roundtable discussion about the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance and Retail Workers Bill of Rights.
This week, California’s Governor signed into law urgency legislation passed by the legislature (AB 304) to amend California’s recently enacted paid sick leave law. These amendments take effect immediately and are intended to clarify some areas of ambiguity in the law as originally enacted. While the amendments do provide clarification in some areas, they nonetheless create added confusion and burden for employers that have already adopted or modified paid time off policies to take effect July 1, 2015, based on their best interpretations of the paid sick leave law in its originally enacted form. The amendments also leave a number of ambiguities in the original law unanswered. Click on the link to read the full summary of the amendments.
The recent published decision issued by the Fourth District California Court of Appeal (May 28) in Verdugo v. Alliantgroup, L.P. will make it more difficult for out-of-state employers to enforce forum selection and choice-of-law clauses in litigation with their California employees. The defendant, Alliantgroup, is a tax consulting firm headquartered in Texas, with one of its eleven regional offices in California. The plaintiff, Rachel Verdugo, brought a class action against the company on behalf of past and present employees, alleging various hour and wage claims under the California Labor Code. Upon being hired to work at Alliantgroup’s Irvine office, Verdugo signed an employment agreement that included a forum selection clause stating that Harris County, Texas would be the exclusive forum for disputes arising out of the agreement. The employment agreement also included a choice-of-law clause, designating Texas law as governing any arising disputes.
California courts have traditionally held that they will not defer to a selected forum if doing so would violate public policy by diminishing the rights of California residents. Furthermore, the courts have established that if the claims at issue are based on rights that California statutes have deemed “unwaivable,” the party seeking to enforce the forum selection clause bears the burden of showing that enforcement will not diminish the substantive rights afforded under California law in any way. In making certain rights “unwaivable,” the California legislature and courts are primarily concerned with providing California residents with all of the protections they are entitled to under California law. In Verdugo, the court ruled that California Labor Code rights are unwaivable. In applying this rule, and the applicable precedent, the Court of Appeal held that defendant Alliantgroup could not enforce the forum selection clause or the choice-of-law provision in the agreement because it failed to show that the forum selection and choice-of-law clauses would not diminish plaintiff Verdugo’s statutory rights by requiring her to litigate her claims in Texas and under Texas law. The court did not create a specific test for determining whether deferring to a forum selection clause will diminish an employee’s rights under the Labor Code.
Although it does not make forum selection and choice of law clauses per se unenforceable, the holding in this case is significant because it places the burden on the employer to show that application of the forum and/or choice of law clause will not diminish the employee’s rights.
Executive Summary: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently broadened California’s already expansive interest in promoting employee mobility by voiding any contract provision imposing a meaningful obstacle to a California resident’s ability to work. The appellate court’s decision calls into question the continued validity of post-employment restrictive covenants commonly included in severance packages and settlement agreements.
Executive Summary: A new California appellate court decision provides much needed guidance regarding the proper scope of discovery in representative actions brought under the California Private Attorneys’ General Act of 2004 (PAGA), Cal. Lab. Code sections 2698, et seq. Specifically, the opinion now allows lower courts to take an incremental approach to discovery, requiring the named plaintiff to demonstrate that s/he was actually subjected to wage and hour violations – and after that, subjected to uniform employment policies and practices – before authorizing statewide discovery. The opinion is the first published California decision concerning how courts should approach discovery in PAGA actions.
There are a number of employment-related bills pending before the California legislature this session. While it is too early to tell which of these bills ultimately will be passed and signed into law, California employers may wish to follow the progress of some of these bills and/or to submit comments, opposition, or support (for the most part, unlikely) for a particular bill.
Executive Summary: Recently, a number of large retail and manufacturing companies doing business in California may have been surprised to receive a letter from the California Attorney General asking them to demonstrate compliance with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. The Act was enacted in 2010 and became effective in 2012; however, the recent round of letters sent out by the California Attorney General has focused more attention on the Act. Recipients of the letters have 30 days to respond by providing a link to their disclosure or providing information showing they are not covered by the Act.
California’s State Legislature is now producing the labor and employment bills that will be the subject of its attention this year.
In addition to having to comply with the new statewide paid sick leave law, California employers with employees in Oakland need to ensure that they are complying with a new Oakland minimum wage and paid sick leave measure that took effect March 2, 2015.
California’s Senate Bill 1299, enacted in the fall of 2014, requires the State’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to adopt standards requiring certain hospitals to implement a workplace violence prevention plan by July 1, 2016. On February 5, 2015, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (the “Division”) issued a draft regulatory proposal that would require healthcare employers (including hospitals, clinics, drug-treatment facilities, home health care, and other healthcare operations) to develop workplace violence prevention plans specific to the hazards and corrective measures for each unit, service or operation of the employer. Covered employers could incorporate their workplace violence prevention plans into an existing injury and illness prevention program or maintain the plan as a separate document.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review the California Supreme Court’s decision that representative claims under the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) cannot be waived in employment arbitration agreements. Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal. 4th 348 (Cal. 2014), cert. denied, No. 14-341 (U.S. Jan. 20, 2015).
On January 1, 2015, California ‘s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (California paid sick leave act) went into effect. When Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed the Act into law on September 10, 2014, California became the second state to mandate that certain employers provide paid sick leave to employees.1 In addition, at least 18 cities, three of which are in California, have passed their own mandatory sick leave laws.2 In December 2014, the Office of the Labor Commissioner issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that clarified employers’ responsibilities under the new law.
Executive Summary: Last week marked the official start of the holiday season. As we’re now racing towards the end of the year, and getting ready for parties, gifts, and, perhaps, (ugh!) holiday travel, employers also should be getting ready to implement policies to comply with a number of new California laws that are expected to go into effect in 2015. The new laws cover a wide range of areas in employment, including leaves of absences, discrimination, and wage and hour issues. Below is a brief overview of twelve of the most notable new laws affecting businesses in the Golden State. They include:
It has been said that in many ways—including politically—the Golden State seems to march to the beat of its own drum. Accordingly, it comes as little surprise that the red Republican breaker that swept across the United States in last Tuesday’s election caused only a small wave in deep blue California.