California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Workplace Safety

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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

Indoor Heat Illness Regulations Mandated

This bill requires by January 1, 2019 that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health propose to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board for the board’s review and adoption, a heat illness and injury prevention standard applicable to workers working in indoor places of employment. (SB 1167.)… Continue Reading

Clarification Regarding The Use Of Smart Phones While Driving

A handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device may be operated in a manner requiring the use of the driver’s hand while the driver is operating the vehicle only if both of the following conditions are satisfied: (1) The handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield in … Continue Reading

Contractor May Be Entitled To Indemnity From Subcontractor For Injuries To Sub’s Employees

Aluma Sys. Concrete Constr. of Cal. v. Nibbi Bros., Inc., 2 Cal. App. 5th 620 (2016) Aluma (the “Contractor”) was sued by employees of Nibbi Bros. (the “Employer”) for injuries sustained on the job. Contractor sued Employer for indemnification based on the parties’ contract. The trial court sustained the Employer’s demurrer to the complaint on … Continue Reading

Male Deputies Prohibited From Supervising Female Inmates Could Proceed With Sex Discrimination Case (Is Orange the New Black?)

Ambat v. City & County of San Francisco, 2014 WL 2959634 (9th Cir. 2014) The plaintiffs in this case are current and former deputies of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department (“SFSD”) who challenged the SFSD’s policy prohibiting male deputies from supervising female inmates. The deputies contend that the policy violates Title VII’s prohibition against sex … 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

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

Jury Should Have Been Instructed That Employer Had Burden Of Proof On FMLA Reinstatement Claim

Sanders v. City of Newport, 657 F.3d 772 (2011) Diane Sanders, a utility billing clerk for the City of Newport, Oregon, began suffering health problems, which (according to her doctor) were due to “multiple chemical sensitivity” triggered by handling low-grade paper at work and poor air quality in her work area. Sanders took an FMLA … 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

Swine Flu: Is Your Workplace Prepared?

As of this writing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 109 cases of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, in the United States. The World Health Organization has confirmed 331 cases of swine flu worldwide and has raised the pandemic threat level to Phase 5 on its six-step scale (Phase … Continue Reading

Off-Duty Employee Injured On Employer’s Water Slide Was Entitled To $4.4 Million Judgment

Mason v. Lake Dolores Group, LLC, 117 Cal. App. 4th 822 (2004) James Mason was rendered a paraplegic after he rode down the “Doo Wop Super Drop” water slide and crashed into a dam at the end of the slide that was owned and operated by his employer, Lake Dolores Group (LDG). Shortly before the … 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

Employer Did Not Violate Public Policy In Favor Of Self-Defense By Terminating Employee For Fighting

Escalante v. Wilson’s Art Studio, Inc., 109 Cal. App. 4th 692 (2003) Wilson’s Art Studio terminated Hector Escalante’s employment as a printer after he was physically attacked by another employee, but failed to leave the scene, deciding instead to go back to fight. In his wrongful termination lawsuit, Escalante, an at-will employee, alleged that Wilson’s … Continue Reading

Wrongfully Terminated Employee Was Entitled To $1.15 Million Punitive Damages Award

Freund v. Nycomed Amersham, 326 F.3d 1070 (9th Cir. 2003) Jeffrey R. Freund worked as a pharmacist in Nycomed’s nuclear pharmacy in San Diego. After a few years of employment, Freund’s relationship with his supervisor, Mike Wakefield, “soured.” Freund lodged complaints about staffing, expressing his concern that overwork of staff members increased the probability that … Continue Reading

Property Owner Not Liable For Injuries To Employee Of Subcontractor

Lopez v. C.G.M. Dev., Inc., 101 Cal. App. 4th 430 (2002) C.G.M. Development, Inc., a property owner, entered into a contract with Dekkon Development, Inc., a general contractor, to develop commercial property located in the City of Industry. Dekkon in turn entered into a subcontract with L&E Builders to frame the roof of the building. … Continue Reading
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