California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Workers Compensation

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$179,000 Penalty Upheld For Employer’s Failure To Maintain Workers’ Compensation

Taylor v. Dep’t of Industrial Relations, 4 Cal. App. 5th 801 (2016) Following an inspection, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”) discovered that Aaron’s Automotive (“Taylor”) had been in operation since 2007 but had never acquired workers’ compensation insurance coverage as required by Labor Code § 3700. The DLSE issued a Penalty Assessment Order, … Continue Reading

Employee Injured During “Mock Robbery” Was Not Limited To Workers’ Compensation Remedy

Lee v. West Kern Water Dist., 5 Cal. App. 5th 606 (2016) Kathy Lee, an employee of the water district, sued the district and four co-employees for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress after the co-employees staged a “mock robbery” without Lee’s knowledge and one of them (while wearing a mask) confronted her at … Continue Reading

California is at it Again! Chamber of Commerce Releases Its 2015 List of “Job Killer” Bills

The Chamber of Commerce has just released its preliminary list of “job killer” bills that have been proposed in the California Legislature. Don’t forget that California remains tied with Louisiana for the fourth highest rate of unemployment in the country at 6.7%. This year’s list identifies 16 proposed laws, including four new “Increased Labor Costs” … Continue Reading

Alzheimer’s Patients Are Not Liable for Injuries They May Inflict on Home Health Care Workers

Gregory v. Cott, 2014 WL 3805478 (Cal. S. Ct. 2014) Carolyn Gregory was injured while providing in-home care for Lorraine Cott, an Alzheimer’s disease patient.  Gregory received workers’ compensation benefits but sued the Cotts for negligence and premises liability and asserted a claim against Lorraine for battery.  The trial court granted a defense motion for … Continue Reading

Dependents Of Officer Who Died In Auto Accident Were Not Entitled To WCAB Benefits

Lantz v. WCAB, 226 Cal. App. 4th 298 (2014) Lieutenant Seth Patrick Lantz, a 33-year-old correctional officer at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California, was killed in an automobile accident on his way home from work. Lantz’s widow, on behalf of herself and her four children, applied for workers’ compensation benefits, contending that Lantz … Continue Reading

California Chamber of Commerce Releases Its 2013 List of “Job Killer” Bills

The California Chamber of Commerce has just released its annual list of “job killer” bills that have been proposed in the California Legislature. This year’s list identifies 32 proposed laws, including six new “Costly Workplace Mandates.” Chamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg cautioned against “increase[d] uncertainty for employers and investors and . . . higher … Continue Reading

$125,000 Verdict And $550,000 Fee Award Affirmed For Negligent Supervision And Violation Of Civil Code § 51.7 (Freedom From Violence)

Ventura v. ABM Indus., Inc., 2012 WL 6636255 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012) Sylvia Ventura worked as a janitor for ABM. Ventura alleged a history of harassment and an act of violence by her supervisor, Carlos Manzano, and ratification by ABM. The jury awarded Ventura $100,000 in compensatory damages for past mental suffering. The trial court … Continue Reading

Loss Of Consortium Claim Of Injured Employee’s Spouse Should Have Been Dismissed

LeFiell Mfg. Co. v. Superior Court, 2012 WL 3570743 (Cal. S. Ct. 2012) O’Neil Watrous and his wife Nidia filed a civil action against LeFiell Manufacturing for injuries O’Neil suffered while he was operating a swaging machine at work. The swaging machine is a “power press machine” within the meaning of Cal. Labor Code § … Continue Reading

California Law Should Have Been Applied To Determine If Drivers Were Employees Or Independent Contractors

Ruiz v. Affinity Logistics Corp., 667 F.3d 1318 (9th Cir. 2012) Fernando Ruiz and similarly situated drivers filed a class action against Affinity alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and California law for failure to pay overtime, failure to pay wages, improper charges for workers’ compensation insurance and unfair business practices. To work … Continue Reading

Hirer Of Independent Contractor May Not Be Sued For Injuries Sustained By Worker

Gravelin v. Satterfield, 200 Cal. App. 4th 1209 (2011) Gary Gravelin was injured while installing a satellite dish on the roof of a residence. Although Gravelin received workers’ compensation benefits from his employer, he sued the homeowners. The trial court granted summary judgment to the homeowners on the ground that in the absence of an … Continue Reading

Employee of Independent Contractor Cannot Sue Company That Hired Contractor for Negligence

SeaBright Ins. Co. v. US Airways, Inc., 52 Cal. 4th 590 (2011) US Airways uses a conveyor to move luggage at San Francisco International Airport. US Airways hired independent contractor Lloyd W. Aubry Co. to maintain and repair the conveyor and did not direct Aubry’s employees in their work. The conveyor lacked certain safety guards … Continue Reading

Claims Adjusters Were Properly Classified As Exempt Administrative Employees

Hodge v. Aon Ins. Servs., 192 Cal. App. 4th 1361 (2011) Plaintiffs in this case are claims adjusters employed by a third party administrator (Cambridge Integrated Services Group, Inc.). Depending on the entity with which it contracts and the terms of the contract, Cambridge adjusts general liability, vehicle-related and workers’ compensation claims. In their claim … Continue Reading

Studio That Provided Financing For Motion Picture Is Not Liable For Injury To Production Company Employee

Angelotti v. The Walt Disney Co., 192 Cal. App. 4th 1394 (2011) Anthony Angelotti was injured while rehearsing a stunt for a film that was being produced by Second Mate Productions, Inc. Angelotti sued Second Mate as well as The Walt Disney Company, which provided the financing for the film. Angelotti alleged that Disney had … Continue Reading

Employee Could Proceed With Disability Discrimination And Harassment Claims

Stiefel v. Bechtel Corp., 624 F.3d 1240 (2010) James Richard Stiefel worked for Bechtel as an ironworker at a power plant. Five weeks before he was laid off, Stiefel injured his left hand while on the job. In his lawsuit, Stiefel alleged Bechtel laid him off as part of a “medical reduction in force,” which … Continue Reading

Termination Of Disabled Employee Did Not Violate FEHA

Milan v. City of Holtville, 186 Cal. App. 4th 1028 (2010) Tanya Milan, who worked as a water treatment operator for the City of Holtville, was injured on the job while moving a large piece of metal. After Milan applied for workers’ compensation benefits, a physician who had been retained on behalf of the city, … Continue Reading

Injuries Sustained By Professional Stuntman Were Covered By Workers’ Compensation

Caso v. Nimrod Productions, Inc., 163 Cal App. 4th 881 (2008) Christopher Caso, a professional stuntman, suffered severe head injuries while performing a stunt during the production of a television show. Caso and his wife (who sought damages for loss of consortium) sued defendants (the director and the stunt coordinators and their respective loan-out corporations) … Continue Reading

Employee’s Stress Resulting From Co-Workers’ Negative Reactions To Her Is Not Compensable

Verga v. WCAB, 159 Cal. App. 4th 174 (2008) Rosemary Verga sought workers’ compensation benefits for an alleged psychiatric injury she sustained while working for United Airlines. However, the WCAB found Verga was not actually subjected to harassment or persecution. Instead, she was “a difficult person to get along with [who was] impolite, unpleasant, and … Continue Reading

Ranger Who Was Injured In Residence Provided By State Was Limited To Workers’ Compensation Remedies

Vaught v. State, 157 Cal. App. 4th 1538 (2007) Marck Vaught was employed as a resource ranger for the State. His position required him to be on call “all the time.” As an inducement to accept the position, the State offered Vaught and his wife the use of a residence located in the district in … Continue Reading

90-Day Period For Employer To Deny Workers’ Compensation Liability Runs From Date Claim Was Filed

Honeywell v. WCAB, 35 Cal. 4th 24 (2005) William Wagner, a sheet metal specialist for Honeywell, claimed work-related injuries to his body and psyche due to employment. On July 20, 1998, Wagner made statements that management was prejudiced against him and hampered his promotion and transfer, that he could not “take it anymore,” and that … Continue Reading

Settlement Of Workers’ Compensation Claim Did Not Bar Civil Lawsuit For Harassment And Discrimination

Mitchell v. Union Central Life Ins. Co., 118 Cal. App. 4th 1331 (2004) Dorothy Wimberly Mitchell worked for The Union Central Life Insurance Company for 27 years before she allegedly became physically ill as a result of harassment and discrimination that she suffered at work. In December 1999, Mitchell filed a civil lawsuit for, among … Continue Reading
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