California Employment Law Update
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Tony Oncidi

Partner

Anthony J. Oncidi heads the Labor & Employment Law Group in the Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

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The U.S. Supreme Court Says PAGA Representative Action Waivers Are Enforceable After All

On June 15, 2022, in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, Case No. 20-1573,_ U.S. _ (2022), by an 8-1 majority, the U.S. States Supreme Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) preempts the California Supreme Court’s central holding in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal. 4th 348 (2014), that actions brought … Continue Reading

Employer Need Not Reimburse Travel Expenses for Drug Test

A federal appeals court recently affirmed a summary judgment entered in favor of WinCo Foods in a class action alleging that WinCo should have reimbursed successful job applicants for the time and travel expenses they incurred in obtaining a drug test as a pre-condition of employment.  In Johnson v. WinCo Foods, LLC, the court agreed … Continue Reading

L.A. Jury Delivers Mother of All Verdicts – $464 Million to Two Employees!

As we have previously reported, jury verdicts in employment cases have continued to skyrocket in recent months, and there is no sign they are leveling off. Late last week, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded a total of over $464 million ($440 million of which was in punitive damages) in a two-plaintiff retaliation case. … Continue Reading

May 2022 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted May 2022 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Former UCLA Physician Can Proceed With Whistleblower Claims Former Employee Adequately Alleged Disability Under The ADA California Resident May Rely Upon Labor Code § 925 … Continue Reading

Workers Do Not Need To Establish They Were Hired Before ABC Test Can Be Applied

Mejia v. Roussos Constr., Inc., 76 Cal. App. 5th 811 (2022) Plaintiffs, unlicensed flooring installers, installed floors on behalf of Roussos Construction, a general contractor. There were three individuals working between plaintiffs and Roussos whom plaintiffs called “supervisors” and Roussos called “subcontractors.” At trial, Roussos maintained that it used independent contractors (the three individuals) who … Continue Reading

Court Improperly Remanded Action To State Court Based On Amount In Controversy Under CAFA

Jauregui v. Roadrunner Transp. Servs., Inc., 28 F.4th 989 (9th Cir. 2022) Griselda Jauregui filed this putative class action in California state court against Roadrunner Transportation Services on behalf of all current and former hourly workers in California. The complaint alleged numerous violations of California wage and hour law. Roadrunner removed the case to federal … Continue Reading

Trial Court Should Not Have Dismissed PAGA Claims On Unmanageability Grounds

Estrada v. Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc., 76 Cal. App. 5th 685 (2022) In this PAGA case, the trial court relied upon Wesson v. Staples the Office Superstore, LLC, 68 Cal. App. 5th 746 (2021) in which the Court of Appeal held that trial courts have inherent authority to strike unmanageable PAGA claims. The Court of … Continue Reading

Employer May Have Violated Federal Law On Forced Labor By Abusing Visa Program

Martinez-Rodriguez v. Giles, 2022 WL 1132809 (9th Cir. 2022) Plaintiffs are six citizens of Mexico (all licensed in Mexico as either animal scientists or veterinarians) who were recruited to work as “Animal Scientists” at Funk Diary in Idaho under the TN Visa program for professional employees, as established under the North American Free Trade Agreement … Continue Reading

School District Is Not Liable For Teacher’s Sexual Relationship With Student

Doe v. Anderson Union High School Dist., 2022 WL 1404140 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022) A teacher at Anderson Union High School allegedly had a sexual relationship with one of his students, which included sexual activities in the classroom. The student sued the school district, the principal and superintendent for negligent hiring and supervision. The trial … Continue Reading

California Resident May Rely Upon Labor Code § 925 To Challenge Non-Compete

LGCY Power, LLC v. Superior Court, 75 Cal. App. 5th 844 (2022) California resident Michael Jed Sewell worked as a sales representative and sales manager for LGCY Power, which is headquartered in Salt Lake County, Utah. In 2015, Sewell signed a “Solar Representative Agreement,” which included noncompetition, nonsolicitation and confidentiality provisions as well as Utah … Continue Reading

Former UCLA Physician Can Proceed With Whistleblower Claims

Scheer v. The Regents of the Univ. of Cal., 76 Cal. App. 5th 904 (2022) Arnold Scheer, M.D., M.P.H., sued the Regents of the University of California and others for alleged whistleblower retaliation. Dr. Scheer asserted claims under Cal. Lab. Code § 1102.5 (“Section 1102.5”), Cal. Gov’t Code § 8547, et seq., and Cal. Health … Continue Reading

Employee with Mild Symptoms of COVID-19 Was Not “Disabled” Under California Law

In Michelle Roman v. Hertz Local Edition Corp., a United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of California granted summary judgment in favor of Hertz, and against former employee Michelle Roman, whose employment was terminated after she contracted COVID.  Roman claimed that her job should have been protected by the California Fair Employment … Continue Reading

Netflix “Sees What’s Next” with New Policy Addressing Employee Activism

In a significant change of course among major employers, Netflix recently made several modifications to its employee culture memo, which is now called “Netflix Culture – Seeking Excellence.” Among other things, Netflix inserted a section on “Artistic Expression.”  In it, the company acknowledges that “[e]ntertaining the world is an amazing opportunity and also a challenge … Continue Reading

Judge Reduces $137 Million Race Harassment Verdict Against Tesla to $15 Million

A federal court judge pared down last year’s jaw-dropping $137 million damages award against Tesla in a racial bias lawsuit.  As covered previously here, a San Francisco federal court jury awarded $6.9 million in emotional distress damages and $130 million in punitive damages to a Black former elevator operator who worked at Tesla’s Fremont facility … Continue Reading

California Continues to Go to the Dogs

On March 17, Rover—a digital application connecting pet owners with daily pet-care providers—argued to the Ninth Circuit that it should uphold a California federal judge’s finding that a dog-sitter was properly classified as an independent contractor. While maintaining that it passes the strict three-pronged “ABC test”—which we have reported on here, here, and here—Rover also … Continue Reading

New “Job-Killer” Bill Would Allow Employees to Just Walk Off the Job!

The California Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee recently passed Senate Bill 1044, moving the legislation one step closer to a vote by the full state senate. SB 1044 would permit employees, without notice, to leave their workplace—or not show up to work at all—if they “feel unsafe.” SB 1044 would prohibit employers from … Continue Reading

March 2022 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted March 2022 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: California Relaxes Standard For Proving Whistleblower Claims At-Will Employee Can Proceed With Labor Code § 970 Claim Doctor Proved Age/Race/Gender Discrimination Former Owner of Company Is … Continue Reading

Court Properly Denied Class Certification For Wage Hour Claims Involving Rounding

Cirrincione v. American Scissor Lift, Inc., 73 Cal. App. 5th 619 (2022) Jason Cirrincione filed a putative class action lawsuit against his former employer for various wage and hour violations, including failure to pay overtime and minimum wages, meal and rest breaks, waiting time penalties, Cal. Labor Code § 2802, etc. These claims were predicated … Continue Reading

Heightened Standard Of Fairness Required For Approval Of Class Action Settlement

Peck v. Swift Transp. Co. of Ariz., 2022 WL 414692 (9th Cir. 2022) In evaluating a settlement of a class action involving Cal. Labor Code § 2802 (employer indemnity for employee expenses), the district court stated that “the parties engaged in arm’s-length, serious, informed and non-collusive negotiations between experienced and knowledgeable counsel … after mediation … Continue Reading

Employer Not Required To Provide Workplace Seating To Grocery Cashiers

La Face v. Ralphs Grocery Co., 2022 WL 498847 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022) Jill La Face, who worked as a grocery store cashier, filed this PAGA claim against her employer, alleging that Ralphs violated an Industrial Wage Commission order that requires employers to provide suitable seating when the nature of the work reasonably permitted the … Continue Reading

OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Exceeded Its Statutory Authority

National Fed’n of Indep. Bus. v. OSHA, 595 U.S. ___, 142 S. Ct. 661 (2022) The United States Secretary of Labor, acting through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, enacted a vaccine mandate that would have required employers with at least 100 employees to require their employees (approximately 84 million workers) to receive a COVID-19 … Continue Reading

Former Owner of Company Is Enjoined From Soliciting Customers

Blue Mountain Enterprises, LLC v. Owen, 74 Cal. App. 5th 537 (2022) Gregory S. Owen transferred his ownership interest in several real estate and construction-related firms to Blue Mountain Enterprises, LLC, as part of a joint venture with Acolyte Limited. Owen became Blue Mountain’s CEO and he agreed to a post-employment non-solicitation provision, which precluded … Continue Reading

Doctor Proved Age/Race/Gender Discrimination

Department of Corr. & Rehab. v. State Pers. Bd., 2022 WL 354657 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022) Vickie Mabry-Height, M.D., sued the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, alleging discrimination on the basis of age, race and gender in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The State Personnel Board sustained Dr. Mabry-Height’s complaint … Continue Reading
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