California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Union Issues

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California Statute Targeting Three Specific Employers Opposed By A Union May Violate Equal Protection

Fowler Packing Co. v. Lanier, 2016 WL 7321371 (9th Cir. 2016) In 2015, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill 1513 in response to two state appellate court decisions that exposed employers to significant and unexpected minimum wage liability for piece-rate workers. The statute created a “safe harbor” that gave employers an affirmative defense against the … Continue Reading

Supervisor’s Wrongful Termination Claim Was Not Preempted By The NLRA

Dang v. Maruichi Am. Corp., 207 Cal. Rptr. 3d 658 (Cal. Ct. App. 2016) Khanh Dang sued his former employer for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, claiming that Maruichi had discharged him for engaging in concerted activity relating to unionizing efforts. The trial court granted Maruichi’s motion for summary judgment on the ground … Continue Reading

Employee’s Refusal To Sign Disciplinary Notice Did Not Disqualify Him From Unemployment Benefits

Paratransit, Inc. v. CUIAB, 2014 WL 2988013 (Cal. S. Ct. 2014) Craig Medeiros worked as a vehicle operator for Paratransit for six years. Medeiros was a member of a union, and the union and the employer were parties to a collective bargaining agreement. Paratransit investigated a complaint filed by a passenger, alleging that Medeiros had … Continue Reading

Cal. Ct. of App. Rules Two State Statutes Unconstitutionally Privilege Union Conduct in Labor Disputes

Today the California Court of Appeal struck down two state laws that had previously made it nearly impossible for California employers to obtain injunctive relief in labor disputes.  In Ralphs Grocery v. UFCW, No. C060413 (Cal. Ct. App. July 19, 2010), the Court determined that Cal. Code of Civil Procedure section 527.3 (a/k/a the “Moscone … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Reviews NLRB’s Controversial Register Guard E-Mail Solicitation Decision

As we reported previously, in December 2007 the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision relating to company e-mail policies in The Guard Publishing Company, d/b/a The Register-Guard, 351 NLRB No. 70 (2007), holding that an employer (i) may restrict the use of its computer systems to business related uses only, and (ii) could distinguish … Continue Reading

Unionized Employees Were Required To Arbitrate Age Discrimination Claims

14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett, 556 U.S. 247, 129 S. Ct. 1456 (2009) Plaintiffs, members of the Service Employees International Union (the “SEIU”), filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and, after receiving their right-to-sue letters, filed suit against their employer alleging age discrimination. In … Continue Reading

President Obama Announces Proposed Nominees to Fill Two Vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board

On April 24, 2009, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Craig Becker and Mark Gaston Pearce to fill two of the three vacant positions on National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB is comprised of five members appointed by the President who are subject to approval by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Endorses Union-Negotiated Arbitration of Discrimination Claims

Proskauer Prevails As The Court Holds That Collectively Bargained Agreements for The Arbitration of Statutory Discrimination Claims are Enforceable On April 1, 2009, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled in favor of Proskauer Rose’s client 14 Penn Plaza LLC, holding that a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) that clearly and unmistakably requires … Continue Reading

Non-Union Employees No Longer Entitled To Have Representative Present During Investigatory Interviews

IBM Corp., 341 NLRB No. 148 (June 9, 2004) In this far-reaching decision, the National Labor Relations Board overruled its own recent decision in Epilepsy Found. of N.E. Ohio, 331 NLRB 676 (2000), and held that employees who are not represented by a union are not entitled to have a coworker present during investigatory interviews. … Continue Reading

California Statute Barring Recipients Of State Funds From Pro Or Anti-Union Advocacy Is Unconstitutional

Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. v. Lockyer, 364 F.3d 1154 (9th Cir. 2004) In 2000, California enacted Assembly Bill No. 1889 (Government Code §§ 16645-16649) which, among other things, prohibits private employers “receiving state funds in excess of $10,000 in any calendar year” from using such funds to “assist, promote, or deter union organizing.” … Continue Reading

Labor Arbitrator’s Finding Of Just Cause For Dismissal Was Not Binding In Employee’s Civil Action

Taylor v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 113 Cal. App. 4th 380 (2003) Walter Taylor filed suit against Lockheed Martin Corporation alleging, among other things, wrongful termination in violation of Labor Code §§ 1102.5 and 6310 (prohibiting retaliation against an employee who has complained about unsafe working conditions in the workplace). Taylor, a member of the International … Continue Reading

Union Members’ Communications With Union Were Not Privileged

American Airlines, Inc. v. Superior Court, 114 Cal. App. 4th 881 (2003) During the course of his discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit against American Airlines, Jawad Alamad, a former aircraft mechanic, identified Richard DiMarco, another American employee and Vice President of Local 564 of the Transport Workers Union of America, as having knowledge supporting his … Continue Reading

Union Employees’ Wage Claims Were Not Preempted By Federal Law

Adams v. Pacific Bell Directory, 111 Cal. App. 4th 93 (2003) Forty-two employees of Pacific Bell Directory (all of whom were members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) filed a lawsuit alleging that the company’s practice of debiting employees’ commissions was unlawful under Labor Code Section 221 and Business and Professions Code Section 17200. The … Continue Reading

Union Employee’s Discrimination, Public Policy Claims Were Not Preempted By Federal Labor Law

Smith v. IBEW, Local 11, 109 Cal. App. 4th 1637 (2003) Donald Smith was terminated from his job as a union organizer for Local 11 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Smith alleged that his employment was terminated in violation of the public policy against age and disability discrimination and in violation of the … Continue Reading

Audio Recording Engineer’s State Law Claims Were Preempted By Federal Labor Law

Levy v. Skywalker Sound, 108 Cal. App. 4th 753 (2003) Robert M. Levy worked as an audio recording engineer for Skywalker Sound in Marin County beginning in 1995. When Levy was hired, he was told that the scoring stage was a “non-union room” and that his position at Skywalker Sound would not be a union … Continue Reading

Union’s Anti-SLAPP Motion Was Properly Denied

Rivero v. AFSCME, AFL-CIO, 105 Cal. App. 4th 913 (2003) David Rivero was a supervisor of janitors at the International House at UC Berkeley before his employment was terminated when he refused to accept a demotion to dishwasher and pot scrubber in the International House’s kitchen. Rivero sued his union, the AFSCME, for libel, slander … Continue Reading

Garment Workers Failed To Establish Union’s Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Simo v. UNITE-SW, 322 F.3d 602 (9th Cir. 2003) Twenty-five garment workers brought suit against their union and its officials after the union allegedly engaged in secondary pressure to remove work from their factory. Among other things, the workers alleged that the union had intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon them. The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary … Continue Reading

Employer May Have Violated Federal Law By Accessing Employee’s Secure Website

Konop v. Hawaiian Airlines, Inc., 302 F.3d 868 (9th Cir. 2002) Robert Konop, a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines, created and maintained a website on which he posted bulletins critical of the airline and the incumbent union, the Air Line Pilots Association. Konop controlled access to his website by requiring visitors to log in with a … Continue Reading

Undocumented Alien Is Not Entitled To Backpay Award Under NLRA

Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, 535 U.S. 137 (2002) The employer in this case, Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc., was found to have violated Section 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it selected four known union supporters for layoff. During a compliance hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), one of the … Continue Reading
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