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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Police Sergeant Who Accessed Computer Database in Exchange for Money Did Not Violate CFAA

Van Buren v. United States, 593 U.S. ___, 141 S. Ct. 1648 (2021) Nathan Van Buren, a former police sergeant, ran a license-plate search in a law enforcement computer database in exchange for money.  Among other things, Van Buren was charged with violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) for “exceed[ing] authorized access” to … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Overturns $100 Million Wage-Hour Judgment Entered Against Walmart

Magadia v. Wal-Mart Assocs., Inc., 999 F.3d 668 (9th Cir. 2021) In this class action, Roderick Magadia, a former Walmart employee, alleged violations of California’s meal-break and wage-statement requirements (Cal. Lab. Code §§ 226.7 and 226(a)).  After the district court (Judge Lucy H. Koh) determined that Magadia suffered no meal-break violation, it decertified the class, but … Continue Reading

Owner Was Not Personally Liable for Misclassification of Employees

Usher v. White, 64 Cal. App. 5th 883 (2021) The plaintiffs in this putative class action lawsuit (service technicians) alleged they had been misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees.  They amended their complaint to add Shirley White and her son Jeff White as individual defendants in the case, relying upon Cal. Lab. Code § 558.1, … Continue Reading

Economic Damages Award Should Have Been Reduced by Post-Termination Earnings

Martinez v. Rite Aid Corp., 63 Cal. App. 5th 958 (2021) Following two prior trials, which resulted in reversal of the judgments by the Court of Appeal, this wrongful termination/discrimination case was tried for a third time in 2018.  The jury awarded Maria Martinez $2 million on her wrongful termination claim against her former employer (Rite … Continue Reading

High School Football Coach’s Title VII Claim Was Properly Dismissed

Kennedy v. Bremerton Sch. Dist., 991 F.3d 1004 (9th Cir. 2021) Joseph Kennedy, a high school football coach, was not rehired after he repeatedly kneeled with team members (some of whom may have felt pressured to join him) and prayed at mid-field following games.  The school district warned Kennedy that his actions, which attracted media attention, … Continue Reading

2:1 Ratio of Punitive to Compensatory Damages Was Appropriate

Contreras-Velazquez v. Family Health Ctrs. of San Diego, Inc., 62 Cal. App. 5th 88 (2021) Rosario Contreras-Velazquez sued her former employer, Family Health Centers (“FHC”), for disability discrimination after she suffered a work-related injury and was terminated.  A jury found FHC not liable, but the trial court ordered a new trial as to three claims; after … Continue Reading

Board of Directors Quota Law May Be Unconstitutional

Meland v. Weber, 2021 WL 2521615 (9th Cir. 2021) In 2018, the California Legislature enacted Senate Bill 826, which requires all corporations headquartered in California to have a minimum number of females on their boards of directors; corporations that fail to comply with SB 826 are subject to monetary penalties.  One shareholder of OSI Systems, Inc., … Continue Reading

Tax Hikes Proposed to Bail Out California Unemployment Fund

Just as California’s employers and small businesses begin to recover financially from the COVID-19 pandemic, the state legislature is about to spring another tax increase on them. This time the money is needed to bail out the severely underfunded unemployment insurance (UI) fund (a program recently featured in the news for paying as much as … Continue Reading

Board of Directors Quota Law May Be Unconstitutional

Meland v. Weber, ___ F.3d ___, 2021 WL 2521615 (9th Cir. 2021) In 2018, the California Legislature enacted Senate Bill 826, which requires all corporations headquartered in California to have a minimum number of females on their boards of directors; corporations that fail to comply with SB 826 are subject to monetary penalties.  One shareholder … Continue Reading

California Safety Board Narrows Emergency Temporary Standards (Effective Immediately)

As we previously reported (here), Cal/OSHA’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“OSHSB”) held a series of special meetings to revise its controversial Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  And, on June 17, 2021, OSHSB approved updated ETS language that more closely aligns California’s workplace safety requirements with recommendations from the … Continue Reading

California Revokes Controversial Masking Rules

As we previously reported (here), on June 3, 2021, California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“OSHSB”) approved some controversial revisions to its Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) related to COVID-19.  Among other highly-contested provisions, the updated ETS would have required even fully-vaccinated individuals to don masks indoors unless everyone in a room was fully-vaccinated.  However, … Continue Reading

California Workers Can’t Ditch Masks Just Yet

In a closely-watched vote, yesterday (June 3, 2021), California’s Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board  approved controversial amendments to the Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) related to COVID-19.  If approved by the Office of Administrative Law within the 10 day review period, the new ETS (available here) will require (among many other things) most California workers … Continue Reading

Alleged Employer Violation of a Local Ordinance Cannot Support a Wrongful Discharge Claim

The California Court of Appeal has determined that a wrongful discharge claim cannot be based upon an alleged violation of a municipal ordinance.  Bruni v. The Edward Thomas Hospitality Corporation. The California Supreme Court has previously ruled that wrongful termination claims must be based upon a violation of a “fundamental public policy.”  In the years … Continue Reading

Big Brother Comes to Santa Clara County with Latest COVID-19 Order

On May 18, 2021, Santa Clara County issued a new Order of the Health Officer (the “Order”) that took effect on May 19th.  Of particular note, the Order imposes two new obligations:  First, it mandates that employers require all personnel to immediately alert their employer if they test positive for COVID-19 and were present in … Continue Reading

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
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