California Employment Law Update
Cole Lewis

Cole Lewis

Associate

Cole Lewis is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department.

Cole graduated from UCLA School of Law, where he worked as a law clerk for Public Counsel of Los Angeles and advocated for benefit recipients in the Department of Public Social Services. He has also previously worked as a summer associate in Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Department.

Prior to law school, Cole received his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism at Indiana University, where he graduated cum laude.

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COVID Alert: California Releases “Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening”

California Governor Gavin Newsom has released a 32-page “Employer Playbook” that’s designed to help employers “plan and prepare for reopening their business and to support a safe, clean environment for workers and customers.” The Playbook contains general guidance applicable to all industries, such as how to manage an outbreak, record cases, and enforce mask requirements. … Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Confirms that PAGA Claims Cannot be Compelled to Arbitration

Even after the Supreme Court’s favorable decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis (“Epic”), California courts will not compel a PAGA claim to arbitration. In Collie v. The Icee Co., a former employee of The Icee Company, Tauran Collie, alleged a single cause of action under California’s Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”) against her former … Continue Reading

Safety Concerns Regarding COVID-19 Infection Could Lead to More Plaintiff-Friendly Juries

Employers may face juries that seek to hold them responsible if an employee contracts COVID-19, the trial consulting firm Dispute Dynamics suggests in its latest study. Dispute Dynamics surveyed 321 individuals, inquiring about their most up-to-date attitudes in the context of being called as a potential juror during/following the pandemic. 46% of the participants indicated … Continue Reading

CalChamber Releases its Annual List of “Job Killer” Bills Proposed by the California Legislature

The California Chamber of Commerce has just identified 10 recently introduced “job killer” bills that have been proposed by the California legislature. Worth noting are the following: AB 196 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) Establishes “Conclusive Presumption” of Injury. Conclusively presumes that contraction of COVID-19 by all “essential workers” is a workplace injury, which will greatly increase the … Continue Reading

Los Angeles Employers May Face Even More Juror Hostility After Pandemic

As if there weren’t enough to worry about, Los Angeles employers may face an even tougher challenge to prevail at trial in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic, the trial consulting firm Dispute Dynamics suggests in its latest study. On May 4th, Dispute Dynamics surveyed Los Angeles County residents and people nationwide, inquiring about their … Continue Reading

How Will COVID-19 Affect Future Jury Trials?

When courts begin to ramp-up operations and start to impanel juries again for the thousands of backlogged civil and criminal trials, the composition of the jury pool may look different, suggests Dispute Dynamics. Dan Gallipeau and Jill Huntley Taylor at Dispute Dynamics conducted a 300-participant nationwide study last week to determine what, if any, effect … Continue Reading

Los Angeles City Council to Require Businesses to Rehire Former Employees

UPDATED April 29: Mayor Garcetti has signed the Ordinance. Employers who have laid off workers due to COVID-19 may soon be required to rehire the laid off workers before they can hire any new employees. The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a measure giving specified workers a “right of recall.” Employees who work in … Continue Reading

Los Angeles Issues Two New Public Orders On COVID-19

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued two new public orders in response to COVID-19’s continued growth and effect on essential businesses. Both of these public orders go into effect on Friday, April 10. The first order contains provisions relating to grocery retail store, drug retail store, and food delivery employees. It mandates: Grocery … Continue Reading

California Ruling Guides Employers On Unlimited Vacation Policies

Tony Oncidi and Cole Lewis analyze the enforceability of an “unlimited” vacation or PTO policy in California in the wake of a new court case (McPherson v. EF Intercultural Foundation) for publication in Law360. In a groundbreaking decision in McPherson v. EF Intercultural Foundation Inc., addressing the growing trend of providing unlimited paid time off … Continue Reading

An Employer Response Plan for COVID-19

From various employment law implications to managing employees working remotely, employers are faced with unprecedented challenges amid the COVID-19 crisis. As Proskauer’s Coronavirus Resource Center continues to supply advisable tips for clients worldwide, Anthony Oncidi, Cole Lewis and Nayirie Mehdikhani step in with advice for California-based employers as they devise their contingency plans. Read their … Continue Reading

Various California Localities Issue Important New Social Distancing Orders

As we reported yesterday, cities and counties across California are issuing orders to slow the spread of COVID-19. Since our last post, Orange County and the City of Palm Springs have joined the list. Orange County’s Public Health Order, which took effect March 17, 2020, prohibits social gatherings and requires bars and other establishments that … Continue Reading

California Suspends 60-Day WARN Act Notice Period Due to COVID-19

This morning, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order that allows a California employer that is conducting layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic to use the newly-created “unforeseen business circumstances” exception to the state’s WARN Act requirements. More specifically, the order indicates that: Mass layoffs, relocations or closures fall under the newly-created “unforeseen business … Continue Reading

California Labor Commissioner’s Office Releases FAQ Memo on Coronavirus

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office has issued an important new FAQ Memo for accommodating and paying employees in connection with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – FAQs on laws enforced by the California Labor Commissioner’s Office Can an employee use California Paid Sick Leave due to COVID-19 illness? Yes. If the employee has … Continue Reading

9th Circuit Holds that Prior Salary is Not a Defense to An Equal Pay Act Claim

Yesterday, the full Ninth Circuit held that an employer cannot rely on an individual’s prior salary to justify a wage disparity between a male and female employee. In Rizo v. Yovino, a female math teacher brought a claim under the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) against the school district for paying her substantially less than her … Continue Reading

California’s Latest Gift to the Public Employee Unions is Challenged in Federal Court

On Tuesday, seven elected officials from various local government bodies challenged a recently enacted California state law that prohibits a public employer from “deter[ing] or discourag[ing] public employees from becoming or remaining members” of a union. The challenged statute (which was part of Senate Bill 866) was a rearguard action that the public employee unions … Continue Reading

Federal Court Strikes Down California’s “Request Arbitration, Go to Jail” Law

On January 31, 2020, Chief United States District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller enjoined California from enforcing AB 51. This new legislation prohibits employers from requiring their employees to sign arbitration agreements.  Last week, the court issued its detailed written opinion explaining the basis for its decision. As we predicted, the Court found that AB 51 is … Continue Reading

Uber and Postmates File Lawsuit Challenging California’s New Independent Contractor Law (AB-5)

On Monday, Uber, Postmates and two of their drivers filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Central District of California, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and a determination that AB-5 is unconstitutional. AB-5 is set to become effective on Wednesday, January 1st and will have a major impact on California’s freelance workforce as well … Continue Reading

California’s “Request Arbitration, Go to Jail” Law is Blocked Until at Least January 10, 2020

As we reported previously, the California legislature recently passed and Gov. Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 51, which would impose criminal penalties upon employers seeking to have their employees sign arbitration agreements – it is in short the “Request Arbitration, Go to Jail” law.  Today, United States District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller granted a … Continue Reading

California’s Arbitration Ban Challenged in Federal Court

As expected, California’s effort to ban employers from requiring employees and applicants to sign an arbitration agreement has been challenged in federal court.  The lawsuit was filed by a business coalition that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation. AB-51 was signed into law in October along with a constellation of other … Continue Reading

“OK, Boomer!”: Not Okay In the Office

As recently highlighted by the New York Times, a new phrase emblematic of the real or perceived “War Between the Generations” has gone viral: “OK, Boomer!”  The phrase, popularized on the Internet and, in particular, Twitter by Generation Z and Millennials, has been used to dismiss baby boomers’ thoughts and opinions, sometimes viewed by younger … Continue Reading

Two Important Stragglers Among California’s New Labor Laws

Last week, we blogged about the avalanche of new labor laws that California employers will face in 2020.  Here are two late additions to the list  — just in time for Halloween!: AB 61 (Ting, D-San Francisco) grants employers and coworkers the right to petition a court to issue a gun violence restraining order, which prevents an … Continue Reading

Take That, Employers! California is Done (for Now) with this Year’s Legislative Thrashing

Here’s a comprehensive list of the new employment-related statutes enacted and signed into law in the Golden State (effective Jan. 1, 2020 unless otherwise specified): AB 5 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego) makes it extremely difficult for most California employers to hire an independent contractor and would convert such workers into “employees” in the eyes of the … Continue Reading
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