California law does not prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to waive his or her right to a jury trial in an agreement with an arbitration provision, the California Court of Appeal has ruled. Pulli v. Pony Int’l, LLC, No. D059137 (Cal. Ct. App. June 19, 2012). The Court held the law simply prohibits an employer from gaining an employee’s release of a wage claim in certain cases. Accordingly, it reversed an order denying the employer’s motion to compel arbitration of an employee’s breach-of-contract and related claims.
Articles about California Labor And Employment Law.
Employees can use statistical evidence to establish a prima facie case of age discrimination under California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), the federal appeals court in San Francisco has held. Schechner v. KPIX-TV, No. 11-15294 (9th Cir. May 29, 2012). The statistics, however, must present a sufficiently strong showing of a stark contrast in impact on protected classes, the Court emphasized. The plaintiffs in this case, however, failed to overcome the “same actor inference” to show the employer’s legitimate business reasons for their layoff were pretextual. Therefore, the Court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer.
The Federal Arbitration Act preempts California law disfavoring the enforcement of a class action waiver in employee arbitration agreements, the California Court of Appeal has ruled. Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, No. B235158 (Cal. Ct. App. June 4, 2012). The Court noted the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (2011), overruled California law. (For more information, please see our article, Supreme Court Strikes Down California’s Prohibition of Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements.) The Court also ruled the FAA preempted the plaintiff’s claims under the California Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”). Accordingly, it affirmed an order compelling arbitration and dismissing the employee’s class claims for alleged Labor Code violations and upheld a class action waiver.
In a much anticipated decision, a federal judge in California’s Southern District ruled last week that CVS Pharmacy was not required to provide its cashiers with seats to use while operating cash registers. The plaintiff is a former customer service representative (“clerk/cashier”) at CVS who filed a lawsuit on behalf of all California customer service representatives alleging that CVS violated Wage Order 7–2001, section 14(A) when it failed to provide its clerks/cashiers with suitable seats during the performance of their job duties. Section 14 of Wage Order 7–2001 provides:
A car wash was liable for unpaid wages and penalties owed by a separate and unrelated business that had operated a car wash at the same location before the property owner evicted it, the California Court of Appeal has held under Section 2066 of the California Labor Code, which applies exclusively to the car washing and polishing industry. People ex rel. Harris v. Sunset Car Wash, LLC, No. B233915 (Cal. App. Dist. 2 Div. 5 May 16, 2012). Affirming a $120,000 judgment against the new car wash operator, the Court concluded it was a “successor” within the meaning of Section 2066 of the California Labor Code because it operated in the same location and performed the same services. Justice Orville A. “Jack” Armstrong issued a vigorous dissent, declaring the Court’s decision violated the precepts of statutory interpretation, misapprehended legislative intent, and visited a gross injustice on the new car wash operator.
A physician-partner in a medical practice could assert a retaliation claim under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the California Court of Appeal has held, reversing a judgment in favor of a medical partnership. Fitzsimons v. California Emergency Physicians Med. Group, No. A131604 (Cal. App. Dist. 1 Div. 3 May 16, 2012). The physician-partner reported alleged harassment of female employees within the practice while she served as the practice’s medical director. The Court ruled that, because the FEHA protects “any person” from retaliation, the physician could assert a claim for retaliation, even though, as a partner, she could not sue the practice for employment discrimination.
The California Supreme Court has reversed an award of attorney’s fees to an employer that successfully defended a claim for failure to provide rest periods mandated under Section 226.7 of the California Labor Code. Kirby v. Immoos Fire Protection, Inc., No. S185827 (Cal. Apr. 30, 2012). In a seminal decision, the Court ruled the California Labor Code does not permit an attorney’s fee award to a prevailing party on such a claim. This ruling follows on the heels of the Court’s decision that employers need not ensure that their workers take meal periods required by California law, but only that workers are provided the meal periods. Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (Hohnbaum), No. S166350 (Calif. Apr. 12, 2012). For more on Brinker, see our article, California High Court Clarifies California Meal-and-Rest Rules.
On April 12, 2012, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) substantially revised its template notice form (“Notice”) and once again amended its FAQs regarding an employer’s obligations under California’s Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA). Cal. Lab. Code § 2810.5; see www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQs-NoticeToEmployee.html.1 This ASAP explains the changes in the template notice and the FAQs.
In welcome news for many California employers facing class actions based on the state break rules, the California Supreme Court has held that employers need not ensure that their workers take meal periods required by California law, but only that workers are provided the meal periods. The employer’s obligation “is to relieve its employee of all duty, with the employee thereafter at liberty to use the meal period for whatever purpose he or she desires, but the employer need not ensure that no work is done,” the Court explained. Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (Hohnbaum), No. S166350 (Calif. Apr. 12, 2012). Should the employee choose to work after being relieved of duty, however, he or she must receive pay for the time worked, but is not entitled to the one hour of premium pay under California law for working during a meal break.
After three years, the California Supreme Court has finally issued its much-anticipated decision regarding how employers must manage meal periods and rest breaks. On April 12, 2012, the state’s highest court issued its unanimous decision in Brinker Restaurant Corporation v. Superior Court, clarifying California employers’ obligations to “provide” meal periods and “authorize or permit” rest periods. To hear a detailed discussion of the decision and its implications for employers, please join Littler’s webinars on April 17, 2012, from 10 to 11 a.m. PST, and on April 26 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. PST.
Companies seeking to prohibit unlawful solicitation of customers should be encouraged by a recent federal court decision.
A Georgia choice-of-law provision in a contract entitled, â€œIndependent Truckmanâ€™s Agreement,â€ between California truck drivers and a Georgia company was unenforceable based on California public policy, the federal appeals court in San Francisco has held. Ruiz v. Affinity Logistics Corp., 667 F.3d 1318 (9th Cir. 2012). The Court also ruled that California law applied in determining whether the drivers were employees or independent contractors. Vacating the lower courtâ€™s judgment in favor of a Georgia transportation company in a wage-hour class action suit, the Court remanded the case to the lower court for further proceedings to determine whether the drivers were employees or independent contractors.
Reversing dismissal of a complaint against a California school district, the California Supreme Court has held that a public school district could be held vicariously liable for the negligence of supervisory or administrative personnel who allegedly knew or should have known of a school guidance counselorâ€™s propensity toward sexual molestation, but hired, retained and inadequately supervised her. C.A. v. William Hart Union High Sch. Dist., No. S188982 (Cal. Mar. 8, 2012).
Denying an employerâ€™s request to arbitrate an employeeâ€™s discrimination, harassment, and wage-related claims, the California Court of Appeal has held that courts, not arbitrators, had the power to decide whether an arbitration agreement was unconscionable. This is so even where an agreement is so broadly worded as to suggest that an arbitrator might have such authority. Ajamian v. CantorCO2e, L.P., No. A131025 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 16, 2012). The Court went on to find the arbitration agreement in question was unconscionable and unenforceable. It also ruled the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to sever the offending terms from the agreement.
A federal court in Los Angeles dismissed the plaintiffâ€™s trade secrets claims in Aqua Connection Inc. v. Code Rebel, LLC [pdf], despite the fact that the plaintiff (Aqua Connect) alleged that its trade secrets were improperly obtained through reverse engineering in violation of a user agreement.