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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California Mulls More Job Killer Bills, Major Tax Hikes

Last week, New York announced new tax increases that will subject certain of its residents to higher personal income tax rates than even Californians pay.  Before the pages on that bill had cooled, the California legislature was well on its way to showing it would not relinquish its top-of-the-heap status without a fight by proposing … Continue Reading

PAGA Has Failed Californians – Unless You’re A Plaintiff’s Lawyer That is

We have long reported about that modern marvel of well-intentioned legislation gone awry known as the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) – and we also have noted that in practice, PAGA stands for Pretty-much All Goes to the Attorneys.  A recently published report (the “Report”) from some of the former leaders of the California Department … Continue Reading

The Biden Administration’s First 100 days: What California Employers and Employees Need to Know

On April 27, 2021 the Employment Round Table of Southern California is hosting a complimentary new webinar titled The Biden Administration’s First 100 days: What California Employers and Employees Need to Know. Proskauer partner Tony Oncidi will be joined by Andrew H. Friedman, an employment law partner at Helmer Friedman LLP.  Tony and Andrew will … Continue Reading

One More for Good Measure: Another Round of Mandatory Vaccination Guidelines

The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) recently updated its Guide to COVID-19 Related Frequently Asked Questions to include wage and hour issues related to employer-mandated COVID-19 tests or vaccinations.  According to this latest guidance, if an employer requires employees to obtain a COVID-19 test or vaccination, the employer must pay “for the time it takes for … Continue Reading

Ah, It’s Bill Passing Season in California again – and No Employer is Safe!

It’s springtime in California!  And even as the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano, the California legislature is busy, busy, busy passing hundreds of new laws because, after all, you can never get too much of a good thing! Yes, it’s Bill Passing Season in Sacramento, and the California legislature seems as determined as ever … Continue Reading

March 2021 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted March 2021 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Trial Court Properly Dismissed Employee’s CFRA And Disability Discrimination Claims LAUSD Teacher Can Proceed With Claim For Disability Allegedly Caused By School’s Wi-Fi System Supreme … Continue Reading

Per Diem Benefits Should Have Been Included As Compensation In Calculating Overtime Rate

Clarke v. AMN Servs., LLC, 987 F.3d 848 (9th Cir. 2021) Plaintiffs who worked as travelling clinicians for AMN (a healthcare staffing company) were paid a weekly per diem benefit for weeks in which they worked at facilities located more than 50 miles from their homes.  In this class action, plaintiffs argued that the per diem … Continue Reading

California Law Applies To Flight Attendants’ Wage/Hour Class Action

Bernstein v. Virgin Am., Inc., 2021 WL 686281 (9th Cir. 2021) Approximately 25% of Virgin’s flights were between airports in California, and approximately 75% of Virgin’s flight took off or landed at a non-California airport, but the vast majority of those flights retained some connection to California (i.e., arrived in or departed from an airport in … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Applies Dynamex Retroactively And Offers “Guidance”

Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising Int’l, Inc., 986 F.3d 1106 (9th Cir 2021) Following the California Supreme Court’s answer in the affirmative to the certified question from the Ninth Circuit as to the retroactive effect of Dynamex Ops. W. Inc. v. Superior Court, 4 Cal. 5th 903 (2018), the Ninth Circuit in this opinion amended and reissued its … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Clarifies FMLA Leave For Rotational Employees

Scalia v. State of Alaska, 985 F.3d 742 (9th Cir. 2021) “Rotational employees” of the State of Alaska work a regular schedule of seven days on, followed by seven days off of work.  Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees may take a total of “12 workweeks of leave.”  The question in this … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Invalidates Rounding Time Punches For Meal Periods

Donohue v. AMN Servs., LLC, 2021 WL 728871 (Cal. S. Ct. 2021) A unanimous California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in this case, answering two important questions about meal periods:  (1) Employers cannot engage in the practice of rounding time punches in the meal period context; and (2) time records showing noncompliant meal periods raise … Continue Reading

LAUSD Teacher Can Proceed With Claim For Disability Allegedly Caused By School’s Wi-Fi System

Brown v. Los Angeles Unified School Dist., 2021 WL 631030 (Cal. Ct. App. 2021) Laurie Brown, a teacher at Millikan Middle School, alleged she experienced chronic pain, which was allegedly caused by a new Wi-Fi system the school had installed.  Brown’s medical provider diagnosed her with “electromagnetic hypersensitivity sensitivity” (EHS).  Brown eventually quit, claiming she could … Continue Reading

Trial Court Properly Dismissed Employee’s CFRA And Disability Discrimination Claims

Choochagi v. Barracuda Networks, Inc., 60 Cal. App. 5th 444 (2021) George Choochagi worked as a technical support manager for Barracuda Networks where he reported to Hossein Ghazizadeh.  Choochagi complained to HR that Ghazizadeh had made inappropriate sexual comments to him about having sex with women at the office and about Choochagi’s not being “man enough” … Continue Reading

You Get a Shot, and You Get a Shot! California Paves the Way for Mandatory Vaccination Policies

Weeks after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) weighed in, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) recently released updated COVID-19 employment FAQs addressing the permissibility of employer-mandated COVID-19 vaccination policies. Taking a page from the EEOC’s January 2021 guidance, the DFEH indicated that employers may require employees to receive an FDA emergency use … Continue Reading

Keeping it Local to Extend COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Ordinances

California’s supplemental paid COVID-19 sick leave (covered here) expired on December 31, 2020. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) also expired on December 31, 2020. Nevertheless, many local jurisdictions have extended emergency paid sick leave to employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. An employee may be entitled to use the leave for a variety … Continue Reading

Chamber of Commerce Urges California to Ease Restrictions on Employers

  The California Chamber of Commerce and nearly 200 other organizations joined in a January 13 letter to the Governor and the leadership of the state Senate and Assembly, urging them to stave off a growing exodus of businesses by loosening the regulatory yoke on California employers. In the letter, the Chamber encouraged that the Governor “take … Continue Reading

In Sickness and In Health – Court Rejects Spouse’s COVID Claim Against Employer

Last week, a California federal judge dismissed with leave to amend a claim made against a Nevada company by the spouse of an employee who contracted COVID-19, allegedly at his workplace, and later transmitted the disease to her.  In its order, the court dismissed the spouse’s claims as preempted by “the exclusive remedy provisions of … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Hands Employers a Mixed Bag on Meal Periods

On Thursday, a unanimous California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC, providing answers to two important questions about meal periods:  (1) whether it is permissible to round meal period punch times, as with work start and stop times; and (2) whether records showing a missed, late, or short meal … Continue Reading

California Employers May Be Required to Subsidize Backup Childcare

Last Thursday, Assembly Bill 1179 was introduced to require California employers with 1,000 or more to provide “backup ” for children under 14. To be eligible for the benefit, employees who work in California would need to have been employed by the company for at least 30 days. If passed and signed into law, this … Continue Reading

Uber/Lyft Drivers Win Latest Round in California

The California Supreme Court has denied a petition for writ of mandate filed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  The SEIU, which was hoping to unionize Uber and Lyft drivers in the wake of AB 5, (read more of our AB 5 coverage here, here, and here), argued that voter-approved Proposition 22 (which permits … Continue Reading

Nike “Just Does It” – Retail Employees Will Wear Transparent Masks

Last summer, Nike began requiring its retail employees to wear masks to combat the spread of COVID-19. A few weeks later, Cali Bunn entered one of its San Diego-area stores to purchase some shoes. Ms. Bunn is deaf and, like other deaf and hearing-impaired customers, relies on her ability to read other’s lips to communicate. … Continue Reading

Federal Guidance on Mandating Employee COVID-19 Vaccinations

To date, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has not issued relevant guidance regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccination programs. Despite the current lack of California-specific information, on December 16, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19-related guidance, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, … Continue Reading

$10 Million Lawsuit over January 6th Capitol Riot-Related Firing

On January 26, 2021, a computer programmer and coder named Leah Snyder filed a lawsuit against her former employer (Snyder v. Alight Solutions LLC (8:21-cv-00187)), alleging she was wrongfully terminated after she posted photos of herself at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. In her complaint Snyder alleges that her former employer, an Illinois-based based … Continue Reading
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