California Employment Law Update
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PAGA Claims and Arbitration – A Federal Court Parts Ways With Iskanian

The California Supreme Court’s decision in Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, (discussed here), held that class action waivers in arbitration agreements are enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) except as to claims that were made pursuant to the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). PAGA allows aggrieved employees to represent other current and … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Limits Recovery for Employees Who Misrepresent Their Immigration Status

On June 26, 2014, the California Supreme Court handed down Salas v. Sierra Chemical, a case at the intersection of employment and immigration law. Salas, a former employee of Sierra Chemical, filed suit alleging disability discrimination and wrongful termination. Prior to trial, Salas notified the court that he would assert a Fifth Amendment privilege to … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Leaves Unanswered Questions in Independent Contractor Case

On Monday, June 30, 2014, the California Supreme Court handed down its decision in Ayala v. Antelope Valley Newspapers, a lawsuit brought on behalf of a group of newspaper delivery carriers who alleged that they had been misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees.  The trial court had initially denied certification, finding that common issues … Continue Reading

California Courts May No Longer Be Able to Certify a Ham Sandwich

Commentators have quipped that class certification is so easy in California that with little effort a group of plaintiffs could certify even a ham sandwich.  In fact, as we have discussed here, we have seen a proliferation of recent appellate decisions hinging class certification on the mere existence of an employer’s uniform policy – no … Continue Reading

California Labor Commissioner Introduces new “Wage Theft” Website, paid for by PAGA

On April 30, 2014, the California Labor Commissioner introduced a new website, WageTheftIsACrime.com in an outreach attempt aimed at what the Commissioner calls the “underserved population of low-wage workers.” Although the Labor Commissioner already operates a thorough and comprehensive website, https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/dlse.html, the new site is purposefully written in plain English in an attempt to reach … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Invalidates Attempt To Plead Around CAFA’s Jurisdictional Amount In Controversy

In 2005, Congress passed the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), which creates federal jurisdiction over class actions involving more than 100 class members and $5 million in controversy. Plaintiffs have long attempted to avoid CAFA’s invocation of federal jurisdiction by stipulating to no more than $5 million in classwide damages. In Standard Fire Ins. Co. … Continue Reading

Right To Compel Arbitration Agreement Not Waived If Plaintiff Suffered No Prejudice From Delay

In a post last week, we noted a recent trend of federal courts strongly enforcing employment arbitration agreements under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). That trend continues in Richards v. Ernst & Young, LLP, Case No. 11-17530 (9th Cir. Aug. 21, 2013), which holds that a defendant’s pretrial participation in litigation does not, absent prejudice … Continue Reading

California Moves to Reinstate Large Emotional Distress Damage Awards in “Mixed Motive” Cases

As regular readers of this blog know, it has been a busy summer for employment-related legislation in the California Legislature (see here and here). Yet of all the bills currently wending their way through the legislative process, none would affect California employment law more than Senate Bill 655. If enacted, SB 655 would modify the … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Reaffirms Enforceability of Arbitration Agreements Containing Collective Action Waivers In Two FLSA Cases

Two recent decisions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit have reaffirmed the enforceability of employment-related arbitration agreements containing class action waivers. In Sutherland v. Ernst & Young and Raniere v. Citigroup, Inc. the Second Circuit held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires courts to enforce a valid agreement to arbitrate … Continue Reading

California Senate Bill 404 Would Add Legal Protection for Employees Who Provide Medical or Supervisory Care to Family Members

California employers are well-advised to keep an eye on Senate Bill 404, a proposed amendment to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), California’s primary anti-employment discrimination law.  If enacted, SB 404 would add another category to the already lengthy list of protected characteristics under the FEHA – “familial status,” which is defined as “an … Continue Reading
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