On February 23, 2021, a unanimous Ninth Circuit panel held in the decision of Bernstein v. Virgin America Inc. (Case No. 19-15382) that employers are not subject to heightened penalties for subsequent violations under the Labor Code
Articles Discussing California Labor Law.
California Attorney General (AG) Xavier Becerra recently announced that he has created the Worker Rights and Fair Labor Section, which will fall under the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Division of Public Rights. This new section will be tasked with protecting workers against workplace issues such as wage theft, health
The California Supreme Court recently heard the case of Troester v. Starbucks Corporation which could significantly increase employers’ exposure to claims by hourly paid employees for small pre-shift and post-shift tasks that are currently treated as insignificant and not compensable.
In a recent decision, Judge Philip S. Gutierrez of the United States District Court for the Central District of California clarified an available avenue for employers with collective bargaining agreements (“CBAs”) to combat the growing trend of wage and hour lawsuits in California. In granting defendant Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. (“Kiewit”) motion for summary judgment (by way of a motion for reconsideration), Judge Gutierrez dismissed various Labor Code claims, including claims for meal and rest break violations, because the claims were exempted by (rather than pre-empted by) Kiewit’s existing CBA. See Peter Zayerz v. Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., 16-CV-6405-PSC (PJW)(January 18, 2018).
In recent years, there has been an uptick in union organizing focusing on California charter schools. Traditionally, education related labor groups focused on organizing large public school districts, but with over 1,200 charter schools in California, groups like the California Teachers Association have shifted gears to try to bring unions into charter schools. Such organizing efforts often occur surreptitiously, and relatively quickly; if charter schools are not vigilant in their approach to labor groups, they can quickly be entangled in lengthy union negotiations which can divert attention from curriculum development and student growth.
Overturning a trial court ruling, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held that teacher tenure laws are constitutional in the case of Vergara v. State of California, decided April 14, 2016.
The recent death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia will give public sector unions a short respite in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association et al., a case that was likely to limit public sector unions’ ability to require mandatory fees from public workers. Following last month’s oral arguments before the High Court, many legal analysts expected a 5-4 opinion in Friedrichs, striking down mandatory union fees for public workers. Now, it is possible that the lower court ruling upholding the fees will remain in place.
California’s Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) allows an “aggrieved employee” to recover civil penalties for certain violations of the California Labor Code. The amount of recovery in a PAGA action is based on the number of pay periods in which violations of the Labor Code have taken place with respect to each aggrieved employee.
California law prohibits “use it or lose it” vacation policies. Under the California Labor Code (Section 227.3), employers must pay terminated employees all accrued vacation, “unless otherwise provided by a collective bargaining agreement.” Examining the meaning of the collective-bargaining-agreement exception for the first time, the California Court of Appeal has ruled that an employer is liable for unpaid pro rata vacation where its agreement with the union did not “clearly and unmistakably waive” the employees’ rights under Section 227.3. Choate v. Celite Corp., No. B239160 (Cal. Ct. App. May 2, 2013). However, the Court reversed judgment imposing waiting time penalties against the employer because it found the employer did not act willfully.
Los Angeles County must provide the union representing its employees under an “agency shop” agreement with the home addresses and telephone numbers of all county employees, including non-union employees, the California Supreme Court has ruled. County of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles County Employee Relations Comm’n (Serv. Employees Int’l Union, Local 721), No. S191944 (Cal. May 30, 2013). Although the Court recognized the non-union employees had a right to privacy in their home addresses and telephone numbers under the California Constitution and their disclosure was a serious invasion of that right, the Court determined the union’s interest in communicating with employees significantly outweighed their privacy rights. The Court further ruled the Court of Appeal erred in imposing procedural requirements limiting the disclosure of the non-union employees’ contact information.
In a split decision, the California Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of two statutes that restrict state court injunctions against picketing by labor unions on private property. Ralphs Grocery Co. v. United Food and Comm. Workers Union Local 8, No. S185544 (Cal. Dec. 27, 2012).1 Although mass picketing and violence were not involved in this case, one of the two statutes also substantially limits the ability of employers to obtain injunctive relief against such picket line misconduct by labor unions.
In a highly watched case, the California Supreme Court has ruled that unions may continue to engage in “peaceful” picketing and other otherwise lawful union activities on an employer’s private property during a labor dispute and that two California anti-injunction statutes regarding labor activities do not run afoul of the First or Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Ralphs Grocery Co. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local 8, No. S185544 (Cal. Dec. 27, 2012). The high court also held unanimously that a private sidewalk in front of a store’s customer entrance in a shopping center is not a public forum under the California Constitution’s liberty of speech provision, and therefore a law favoring union speech did not run afoul of constitutional nondiscrimination requirements for speech based on its content. On the other hand, a union, and presumably other groups, would have no state constitutional right to picket or engage in other expressive activities at that location.
In a case that will significantly strengthen labor’s hand regarding picketing activities in the state, the California Supreme Court reversed a Court of Appeals decision that had declared unconstitutional two state laws restricting the ability of employers to enjoin conduct on their property if the conduct relates to a labor dispute.
On October 9, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 646, which amends the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA) to require certain public sector employers to submit their differences with a labor organization representing their employees to a “factfinding panel” for impasse resolution. The new law allows an employer covered by the MMBA to implement its “last, best, and final offer” after the parties’ respective positions over wages, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment have been presented to the panel, the panel’s findings and recommendations have been made public and a public hearing has been held on the impasse.
The California Supreme Court will address whether certain California statutes, which set strict standards for obtaining injunctions against labor unions, violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution because they afford preferential treatment to speech concerning labor disputes.