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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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

Stray Kitty Moonlights as Lawyer

Following passage of AB-5, the recent string of multi-million dollar employee jury verdicts, and other challenging developments, we concluded that our subscribers need some feel-good news every meow and then (sorry). An association of lawyers in Brasília, Brazil has hired Leon the cat as one of their new “attorneys” in order to lighten the mood around … Continue Reading

Employees Will Be Exempted from Most Requirements of the Amended California Consumer Privacy Act … For Now

In an effort to give consumers more control over the data businesses collect from and about them, the California legislature passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in 2018 (and amended it a few months later). The CCPA gives consumers the right to know about and have deleted the data businesses have gathered about them, among … Continue Reading

Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash Pledge $90 Million To Fund Voter Initiative To Overturn Assembly Bill 5

Assembly Bill 5, a proposed new law currently pending in the California legislature, would limit and codify last year’s California Supreme Court Dynamex opinion.  If passed and signed into law by Gov. Newsom (he’s already said he’ll sign it), AB-5 would make it nearly impossible for most California employers to hire an independent contractor and … Continue Reading

Public Employee Union Members Sue Over Forced Dues Payments

Five In-Home Supportive Service (“IHSS”) providers filed a class-action lawsuit last month challenging their union’s practice of deducting union dues despite their quitting the union. The workers allege their First Amendment rights are being violated by the union deducting dues from their paychecks and using it to subsidize union speech.  Just one year ago, the United … Continue Reading

California Law Requiring Female Board Members Challenged In Court

Earlier this week, three taxpayers sued California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to prevent enforcement of Senate Bill 826. Senate Bill 826, signed into law last year by former Governor Jerry Brown, requires that by the end of 2019, all publicly held foreign or domestic corporations whose principal executive offices are in California shall have … Continue Reading

EEOC Has Begun Denying Employers’ Requests For Extensions Of Time To Respond To Discrimination Charges

What used to be a routine request – asking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for an extension of time when responding to a charge of discrimination or harassment and assuming extra time would be granted – apparently is no longer such an automatic thing. In what may signal a broader shift in policy, the … Continue Reading

Proskauer Scores Two Summary Judgments for Large Southern California Hospital Within 48 Hours

We’re delighted to report that we secured two summary judgments in two separate alleged discrimination cases on behalf of a large Southern California hospital in matters that were pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court. In one case, decided on July 12, 2019, the Court agreed with our client that the former employee had failed … Continue Reading

California Enacts Law Prohibiting Hairstyle Discrimination … with New York and New Jersey Close Behind

As we have reported before, California is set to become the first state to prohibit employers from discriminating based upon hairstyle. Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the “CROWN Act” (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair). The CROWN Act amends the state’s Education Code and Government Code to define “race … Continue Reading

“Bikini Baristas” Ordered to Cover-Up

The 9th Circuit court of appeals has enforced the City of Everett, Washington’s Dress Code Ordinance and amendments to the Lewd Conduct Ordinances. These ordinances require employees of “Quick-Service” facilities to cover “minimum body areas” (the dress code ordinance specifically stated that it was targeting an apparent influx of “bikini barista stands”). The owner of … Continue Reading

California Jury Awards $15.4 Million to Former Jack in the Box Employee

In a decision unsurprising to anyone familiar with what California juries have been up to lately (see our reporting here), fast-food titan Jack in the Box was ordered to pay $15.4 million (including a staggering $10 million in punitive damages) last week in a lawsuit involving age and disability discrimination claims, as well as alleged … Continue Reading

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

It’s springtime in California!  Even as the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano, the California legislature is busy, busy, busy passing 100s of new laws because, after all, you can never get too much of a good thing! Yes, it’s Bill Passing Season in Sacramento again, and the California legislature seems as determined as ever … Continue Reading

California Bill Aims to Prohibit Employers from Discriminating on Basis of Hairstyle

A new California bill aims to make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based upon their hairstyles. SB 188, also known as the “CROWN Act” (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair), proposes amending the Education Code and Government Code to define “race or ethnicity” as “inclusive of traits historically associated … Continue Reading

9th Circuit Applies Strict Independent Contractor Test, Dynamex, Retroactively

Last year, we questioned whether California’s new restrictions on independent contractors would apply retroactively. Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit decided in Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising Int’l, 2019 WL 1945001 (9th Cir. 2019), that the landmark ruling in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court should be applied retroactively. The new test established in Dynamex upended the Borello test, … Continue Reading

California Jury Awards $11 Million In Latest Blockbuster Sexual Harassment Verdict

For the second time this calendar year, a Los Angeles jury ordered an employer to pay $11 million to an employee who claimed to have been sexually harassed. And, once again, the amount of punitive damages ($8 million) dwarfed the amount of compensatory damages ($3.1 million) by a margin of more than two-to-one. On Friday, … Continue Reading

Tune in to the Webinar Today: Employment Roundtable of Southern California

On Tuesday, April 16, 1-2 pm PDT, Tony Oncidi will be joining the Employment Roundtable of Southern California (ERTSC) and presenting the webinar, A Quick Legal Update of New Employment Laws and Cases. The New Year rang in nearly twenty new employment laws.  2018 and 2019 have produced dozens and dozens of significant employment cases.  … Continue Reading

City of Baldwin Park Hit with $7 Million Sex Discrimination Verdict

Just another day in paradise in Los Angeles… Unless you happen to be an employer. Continuing the recent spate of multi-million dollar verdicts, an LA jury awarded a former police officer $7 million on her sex discrimination claim. Lili Hadsell, a former police chief for the City of Baldwin Park, alleged that she was subjected … Continue Reading

California Legislature Tries Yet Again to Outlaw Arbitration Agreements…

There they go again!  As we predicted last November, the California legislature is once again trying to outlaw arbitration agreements between employers and employees.  Former Gov. Jerry Brown routinely vetoed similar bills that sought to prohibit arbitration of employment disputes on the anodyne ground that such legislation unquestionably conflicts with and is preempted by federal … Continue Reading

Proskauer Releases New Survey of Workplace Issues in the #MeToo Era

The current landscape in the #MeToo Era has heightened the need for leaders at every business organization to ensure that sound and strategically aligned practices for preventing, receiving, and responding to harassment, discrimination and other workplace related claims are in place. Proskauer has just released its findings from a broad-based survey of employers around the … Continue Reading

Are You an Employee or a Contractor? Carpenters, Strippers and Dog Walkers Now Face that Question (Los Angeles Times Piece)

The Los Angeles Times published a piece addressing the recent and abrupt change in the rules for determining who is and who is not an independent contractor in California. As is so often the case, there are many unanticipated consequences associated with these new rules. Read the full piece here: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-dynamex-contractors-20190223-story.html… Continue Reading

California Jury Rejects Employee’s Discrimination Claims Against Chipotle

Proving it still is possible to obtain a favorable jury verdict in California (see contrary evidence), a federal jury sided with Chipotle Mexican Grill last Wednesday in a case involving disability discrimination claims by former assistant store manager, Lucia Cortez. Cortez alleged she suffered a miscarriage at work after years of trying to get pregnant, … Continue Reading

California Class Actions and PAGA (“Prettymuch All is Going to the Attorneys”) Claims Continue to Overwhelm the State

We have reported before about the huge jury verdicts that get handed out in California with alarming regularity and California’s sustained #1 ranking as the “Top Judicial Hellhole” in the nation. A corollary problem continues unabated: The prevalence of class actions and lawsuits under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Though California accounts for 12% … Continue Reading

LA Times Wins Lawsuit Against Former Freelancer

The California Court of Appeal affirmed dismissal of a former freelancer’s defamation and employment-related claims against the Times. Frederick Theodore Rall III, a political cartoonist and blogger for the paper, brought claims for defamation, wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotion distress, and retaliation, among others, stemming from the Times’ decision to disassociate itself with Rall … Continue Reading
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