The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board on February 20, 2015, adopted an amendment to the state Heat Illness Prevention regulation changing the requirements for potable water, shade, cool-down periods, high-heat procedures, emergency preparedness, acclimatization, training, and heat illness prevention plans. Employers should update their heat illness prevention plans and train their employees for compliance with amendment. The many changes to the heat regulation are sure to create a large wave of citations this spring and summer as employers comply with the amendment.
Articles about California Labor And Employment Law.
Employee’s Violation of Company Policy Justified Firing While on Leave, California High Court Holds
An employer did not violate California’s Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) by terminating an employee who engaged in outside employment while out on CFRA medical leave, conduct prohibited by the employer’s policy, the California Supreme Court has ruled. Richey v. AutoNation Inc., No. S207536 (Cal. Jan. 29, 2015).
California Court Decision on Meal Breaks May Cause Health Care Industry To Go To Code Blue
Executive Summary: A new California Court of Appeal decision has invalidated a 22-year-old healthcare industry exception that had given the industry some flexibility with respect to how it provided its employees working extra-long shifts with meal breaks. The decision is expected to have serious and immediate ramifications for employers in the patient care industry not only because of its invalidation of a long-standing exception but also because of its retroactive effect on previously existing practices.
California Healthcare Employee Not Required to Exhaust Her Administrative Remedies Before Filing a Whistleblower Claim
A California appellate court recently confirmed in Satyadi v. West Contra Costa Healthcare District that employees need not exhaust administrative remedies before pursuing most state Labor Code claims, even those accruing prior to the enactment of Labor Code § 244(a), which expressly states there is no administrative exhaustion requirement. The decision brings clarity to an area of law noted for its split of authority.
No Rest Period Violation for Security Guards On Call during Breaks, California Court Rules
Reversing a trial court’s awarding of a $90 million judgment in a class action case for alleged rest period violations under California law, the California Court of Appeal has ruled that a security company had provided its security guards with proper rest periods, even though they were required to remain “on call” during those breaks. Augustus v. ABM Sec. Services, Inc., Nos. B243788 & B247392 (Cal. Ct. App. Jan. 29, 2015). Significantly, the Court ruled that remaining on call during rest breaks does not “constitute performing work” under Section 226.7 of the Labor Code, which mandates that during rest breaks, an employee not be required “to work,” and the corresponding wage order.
Relying on Duran, California Court of Appeal Upholds Denial Of Certification In Alleged Misclassification Action
The recent California Court of Appeal decision in Mies v. Sephora U.S.A., Inc., Case No. A139410 (1st App. Dist., Feb. 2, 2015) (unpublished) joins a growing number of cases finding the existence of uniform corporate policies, standing alone, is insufficient for class certification. Mies upheld the trial court’s decision denying certification in a misclassification case alleging retail store “Specialists” were misclassified as exempt.
California Employers Need Not Relieve Employees of all Duties During Rest Breaks, According to Court of Appeal
On January 29, 2015, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, published a landmark decision in Augustus v. ABM Security Services. Specifically, the Augustus court held that while California law prohibits employers from requiring employees to work during rest breaks, it does not require employees to relieve employees of all duty during rest breaks.
California Supreme Court Clarifies When An Arbitration Award May Be Corrected
On January 29, 2015, the California Supreme Court issued a decision clarifying the circumstances under which an arbitrator’s award may be corrected. In Richey v. Autonation, Inc., No. BC408319 (Cal. Jan. 29, 2015), the court examined an arbitrator’s award and concluded that, although the arbitrator may have committed error in applying the defendants’ proffered “honest belief” defense (a defense not provisioned under California law) the plaintiff was nevertheless afforded his statutory rights. The court explained that, because the arbitrator determined the plaintiff’s employment was terminated for violating his employer’s policy prohibiting outside employment while on medical leave, the plaintiff was not prejudiced by the arbitrator’s arguably misplaced application of the honest belief defense.
New California Court of Appeal Opinion Provides Guidance on Rest Breaks
Executive Summary: On January 29, 2015, a California appeals court published a modified version of an opinion examining, in part, an employer’s obligation under the state’s rest break requirements. Critically, the opinion concludes that the rest break requirement only prescribes that an employee not be required to work on a rest break, not that he or she be relieved of all duties. The opinion provides much needed guidance to employers in understanding the distinction between California’s meal and rest break requirements.
California Supreme Court Decision Barring Waiver of Representative Claims is Left Intact by U.S. Supreme Court
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).
California High Court Rules Sleep Time is Compensable Hours Worked
Holding that “hours worked” under California Labor Code and Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Order No. 4-2001 (“Wage Order 4”) include all time spent at the employer’s workplace and under the employer’s control, such as sleep time, the California Supreme Court has ruled that security guards were entitled to compensation for all on-call time, including sleep time. Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc. et al., No. S212704 (Cal. Jan. 8, 2015). Significantly, the Court refused to incorporate into Wage Order 4 the federal regulation allowing exclusion of sleep time from hours worked and disapproved prior California case law applying the federal regulation to employees working 24-hour shifts.
An Update on the Epidemic: California’s Statewide Paid Sick Leave Law
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.
Inconsistent Application of Policy Dooms Meal and Rest Break Class Claims in California
An employer-friendly decision rings in the New Year in California. In Koval v. Pacific Bell Telephone Co., plaintiffs alleged “systematic company guidelines” restricted employee activities during meal and rest breaks and “prevented employees from fully realizing the [meal and rest] breaks to which they were entitled.” Following Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, 53 Cal.4th 1004 (2012), the trial court held the mere existence of a uniform policy does not mandate class certification, concluding that variations in the employer’s application of policy created “serious doubt as to whether the rules were consistently applied so as to allow adjudication of the liability issues on a class-wide basis.” The California Court of Appeal affirmed, in a published decision.
Federal Arbitration Act Preempts State Arbitration Rule, California Court of Appeal Holds
The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) preempts California’s Broughton-Cruz rule, which states arbitration agreements for injunctive relief claims under the state unfair competition and false advertising laws are against public policy and invalid, the California Court of Appeal has held in an insurance consumer class action, allowing arbitration to proceed. McGill v. Citibank, N.A., No. G049838 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 18, 2014).
San Francisco’s OLSE Issues “FAQs” On Fair Chance Ordinance
Starting on August 13, 2014, employers doing business in the City of San Francisco, California have had to comply with sweeping amendments to San Francisco Police Code, Article 49, and Administrative Code, Article 12 (“the amendments,” “the ordinances” or the “FCO”), which significantly restrict the ability of covered employers to inquire into, and use, criminal records for hiring and other employment purposes. The scope of the amendments far exceeds the breadth of any of the other so-called “ban-the-box” laws.