On October 5, 2013, California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed several pieces of immigration-related legislation that will benefit undocumented residents. The office of the Governor described the laws as designed to “enhance school, workplace and civil protections for California’s hardworking immigrants.” The Governor added that “While Washington waffles on immigration, California’s forging ahead, . . . I’m not waiting.”
Articles about California Labor And Employment Law.
An arbitration agreement was not procedurally unconscionable because the employer failed to attach a copy of the relevant arbitration rules to the agreement, the California Court of Appeal has ruled. Peng v. First Republic Bank, No. A135503 (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 26, 2013). The Court also ruled that the agreement was not substantively unconscionable because it provided that the employer may unilaterally modify the agreement. The Court reversed the trial court’s order denying the employer’s request for arbitration of the employee’s discrimination and wrongful termination claims.
After the tortuous appellate process that finally resulted in the seminal California Supreme Court Brinker Restaurant Corporation1 decision defining the legal duty to provide a meal period and authorize rest breaks, you might have thought the battle was over, at least for Brinker Restaurants. You would be wrong. That was just Round One. In Round Two, last week San Diego County Superior Court judge William Dato addressed the question the California Supreme Court did not decide during the multi-year appellate process: whether a class should be certified to litigate whether meal periods were “provided” to thousands of employees of restaurants owned and operated by Brinker throughout California. While the California Supreme Court decision was widely viewed as a victory for employers on the meal break requirement under California law, last week’s decision gave the green light to employees to continue this now nine-year fight as a class action to seek premium pay, penalties and possibly injunctive relief from their employer for failure to provide meal and rest breaks.
For the first time since 2006, California’s Legislature passed legislation increasing the state’s current minimum wage of $8 per hour. Governor Brown signed the bill on September 25, 2013.
California Governor Jerry Brown on September 25, 2013, signed into law a bill that increases the state’s hourly minimum wage rate from $8.00 an hour up to $10.00 an hour by January 1, 2016. The new law (AB 10) amends Section 1182.12 of the California Labor Code and does not automatically increase the wage rate annually based on inflation. The rate increase will take effect in two stages: a $1.00 increase on July 1, 2014, to $9.00 an hour, and another $1.00 increase on January 1, 2016, to $10.00 an hour. The last time California increased its minimum wage was on January 1, 2007.
Saving the best for last: The hundreds of bills passed in the California Legislature’s last two weeks of the 2013 session are either on, or still making their way to, Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. He has until the second weekend in October to sign or veto them. Historically, the governor’s veto rate in his second administration has been around 15 percent. Governor Brown traditionally waits until it is close to the signing deadline to make his decisions on end-of-session bills, so expect most of the action to occur in the second week of October.
The plaintiff must prove her pregnancy was a “substantial motivating reason” for her termination, not merely a “motivating reason,” the California Court of Appeal has ruled, reversing a jury verdict in favor of the employee in a pregnancy discrimination case under the California Fair Employment Housing and Employment Act (FEHA). Alamo v. Practice Management Information Corp., No. B230909 (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 5, 2013). In addition, the Court held the employer was not entitled to an instruction that it would have taken the same employment action regardless of the employee’s pregnancy, the “mixed motive” defense, because it failed to plead that defense in its answer.
It’s all over now but for the gubernatorial pen strokes – or not.
The week of September 9 is the last week of the 2013 session of the California Legislature. Of the 2,256 regular bills introduced in the Senate and Assembly, the finalists will be sent on to Governor Brown’s office for approval or veto. The Governor has a maximum of 30 days to sign or veto a measure once it is presented to his office.
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation (S.B. 462) amending the California Labor Code to limit employers’ ability to recover attorney’s fees and costs in actions for nonpayment of wages. Previously, California case law left open the possibility that Labor Code Section 218.5 permits the prevailing party, either the employee or employer, to recover fees and costs. Effective January 1, 2014, employers may recover their defense costs only if they prove that an employee brought the action in “bad faith.”
We are now in the last two weeks of the 2013 California legislative session. August 30 was the formal deadline for any bills to be acted upon to clear the fiscal committees of either house this session. From here on out, according to the legislative calendar, there will be floor sessions only — no committee, other than conference committees and the Rules Committee, may meet for any purpose. And Friday, September 6, is the last day to amend a bill on the floor – again, according to the legislative calendars. But be alert for the notorious “gut-and-amend” bills in these final weeks.
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a revision to the definition of sexual harassment under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to make clear that employees who assert claims of sexual harassment need not show the harassment is motivated by sexual desire. The new law becomes effective on January 1, 2014.
An amendment to the California Labor Code mandating temporary leaves of absence for firefighters, reserve peace officers, and emergency rescue personnel (Labor Code Section 230.4) will become effective on January 1, 2014.
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.
An employer could be held liable for its employee’s off-duty accident as long as the proximate cause of the injury (here, alcohol consumption) occurred within the scope of employment, the California Court of Appeal has held, reversing summary judgment in favor of the employer. Purton v. Marriott Int’l, Inc., No. D060475 (Cal. Ct. App. Jul. 31, 2013). The Court further ruled it was irrelevant that the effect of the employee’s negligence occurred after he had arrived home from the employer-sponsored party.