California employers continue to have complicated questions about the use of independent contractors in the state almost a year after adoption of Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), which established more stringent standards for the classification of workers as independent contractors.
Articles Discussing Human Resource Issues In California.
On March 11, 2020, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment issued Colorado Health Emergency Leave with Pay (“Colorado HELP”) Rules that require certain employers to provide paid sick leave for employees with flu-like symptoms who are being tested for COVID-19. The rules take effect immediately and will remain in effect for 30 days or for the duration of the declared state of emergency, whichever is longer, up to 120 days.
On November 20, 2019, the Supreme Court of California announced it would review and decide whether its 2018 Dynamex decision has retroactive effect. The answer to this question could have a profound impact on any company using independent contractors in the Golden State.
California employers may face harsh consequences for failing to pay arbitration fees on time under a bill (Senate Bill 707) signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 13, 2019. The new law go into effect on January 1, 2020.
On October 13, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 51 into law, banning most employment arbitration agreements in California starting January 1, 2020. This new law is expansive in scope but short on certainty, as it raises several questions and will likely face legal challenges.
Introduction: For a little over a year, California employers and courts have been wrestling with the impact of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, 4 Cal.5th 903 (2018), which dramatically altered the independent contractor landscape in the Golden State last year. Dynamex upended a long-standing multi-factor test which had been applied to determine if a worker was an employee or an independent contractor, ushering in the new “ABC test.” One of the main unresolved questions left in the wake of Dynamex was whether the new “ABC test” applies retroactively.
California has joined a number of states in passing legislation purporting to prohibit mandatory arbitration agreements for sexual harassment and other claims. Such laws have gained popularity in the wake of the #MeToo movement, but are subject to challenge under Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preemption principles.
On September 24, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certified to the Supreme Court of California the question of whether that court’s landmark 2018 decision in Dynamex v. Superior Court should be applied retroactively. In May 2019, the Ninth Circuit, in Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc., held that Dynamex had retroactive effect; in July 2019, however, the appeals court withdrew that opinion and indicated that it would instead ask the California Supreme Court to decide this state-law matter.
In OTO, L.L.C. v. Kho, the California Supreme Court refused to enforce an employee’s arbitration agreement on the basis that it was unconscionable. Unconscionability has long been a common-law defense to contract enforcement. What makes OTO v. Kho problematic for employers is the court’s weakening of the traditional “Does the agreement shock the conscience?” standard. The court in this case invalidated the agreement because arbitration was a less affordable and less accessible dispute resolution mechanism than other potentially applicable state law mechanisms. Specifically, the court found the parties’ arbitration procedure to be less advantageous to the employee in the resolution of his wage claims than the “Berman” procedure, an administrative process through which an employee can receive substantial assistance in taking his wage claims before the state Labor Commissioner.
Recently, the California Supreme Court invalidated a mandatory arbitration agreement in OTO, LLC v. Kho (August 29, 2019) finding the agreement was both procedurally and substantively unconscionable. The case involved arbitration of a former employee’s wage claims. Under California law, employees have access to an inexpensive administrative process to pursue wage disputes. The Court previously had ruled that an arbitration agreement is not categorically unconscionable solely because it entails a waiver of that administrative process. An agreement to arbitrate wage claims can be enforceable so long as it provides an accessible and affordable process for resolving those disputes.
Whether California’s recently adopted “ABC” test, used in the employee-versus-independent contractor analysis in cases involving California’s wage orders, must be applied retroactively should be decided by the California Supreme Court, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has decided, withdrawing its controversial May 2, 2019, opinion. Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising Int’l, Inc., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 21687 (9th Cir. July 22, 2019). The Ninth Circuit said it will certify that question to the California Supreme Court.
An employer successfully compelled arbitration under an arbitration agreement that the plaintiff-workers had with their staffing agency, even though the staffing agency was not a defendant in the lawsuit.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1976, expanding California employer obligations respective to employee lactation accommodation.
In a last-minute action on the September 30 legislative deadline, California’s Governor vetoed a bill that, among other things, would have imposed restrictions on the use of arbitration agreements for certain employment claims.
The California Supreme Court, in Dynamex Operations v. Superior Court, held that for purposes of claims under the California Wage Orders “engage, suffer or permit to work” determines employee status, thus requiring a defendant who disputes that a worker is an employee (rather than an independent contractor) to prove (A) the worker is free from control and direction of the hirer in connection with performing the work, both under contract and in fact; (B) the worker performs work outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and (C) the worker customarily engages in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hirer.