California Employment Law Update
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Kate Gold

Kate Gold is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department in the Los Angeles office.

Kate has over 25 years of experience representing clients in a range of industries, across all areas of employment law.  An experienced litigator, she has represented clients in all types of employment-related suits, including class and collective actions, discrimination, retaliation and harassment, non-compete and wage/hour matters.  In addition to litigating, she conducts high-level workplace investigations and routinely counsels clients on matters involving the full range of state and federal employment issues.

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California Supreme Court to Determine Scope of Employer Liability for At-Home Spread of COVID-19

Last week, the California Supreme Court agreed to decide two unique questions with far-reaching implications for employer liability: (1) may an employer be held liable to an employee’s spouse when an employee contracts COVID-19 in the workplace and then infects their spouse at home, and (2) does an employer have a duty of care to … Continue Reading

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

California Supreme Court Rules Meal and Rest Break Premiums Constitute “Wages” Potentially Triggering Penalties for Violations

In a much anticipated ruling, on May 23, 2022, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Naranjo et al. v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc.  Previously, the Court of Appeal held that unpaid premium payments for meal period violations did not entitle employees to additional penalties for either inaccurate wage statements or failure to timely … Continue Reading

California “Women on Boards” Law Ruled Unconstitutional, but California Will Appeal

Last Friday, the Los Angeles Superior Court in Crest et al. v. Padilla (“Crest”) held that Senate Bill 826 (“SB 826”), also known as the “Women on Boards” law, is unconstitutional.  The lawsuit challenging the law was brought by DC-based nonprofit Judicial Watch on behalf of California taxpayers.  Earlier this week, the state announced that … Continue Reading

Nothing Escapes Inflation, Including California’s Minimum Wage

California’s minimum wage currently is double its federal counterpart.  And, it’s going to keep climbing.  Late last week, Gov. Newsom announced that the Golden State’s minimum wage will increase to $15.50 for all employers (regardless of size), effective January 1, 2023.  Employers have inflation to thank for this latest hike. California currently mandates a minimum wage … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Advance of Major Ruling on the Arbitrability of PAGA Claims

Last week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, Case No. 20-1573,_ U.S. _ (2022). The case addresses whether the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) requires the enforcement of bilateral arbitration agreements that preclude an employee from bringing claims under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) on a … Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Publishes Opinion Upholding Customer Non-Solicitation Covenant

Despite California’s general hostility towards post-termination restrictive covenants, the California Court of Appeal, in a recently published opinion, Blue Mountain Enters., LLC v. Owen, 74 Cal.App.5th 537 (1st Dist. Jan. 10, 2022), affirmed that a post-termination customer non-solicitation agreement was enforceable under California Business & Professions Code § 16601. Under most circumstances, contractual provisions that … Continue Reading

Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Survives its First Challenge

  As we reported here, Cal/OSHA’s revised COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) took effect on January 14, 2022. The controversial emergency regulations, which have caused employers countless headaches, survived their first major challenge when the Court of Appeal, in Western Growers Association v. Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board affirmed the trial court’s order blocking … Continue Reading

New Lawsuit Reminds Employers to Check Their Grooming Policies

A suit filed last week in San Diego Superior Court serves as a reminder to employers about the importance of keeping up-to-date on California’s evolving Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). In the new suit, an employee, Jeffrey Thornton, claims that he was discriminated against on the basis of his race when his former employer, … Continue Reading

Governor Newsom Signs A Slew of New Employment Laws for 2022

As the 2021 legislative season came to a close, Governor Gavin Newsom signed numerous bills into law. From arbitration to workplace safety, these laws will impact employers across the state.  We have summarized the most important ones for you here: Arbitration Arbitration fees will now need to be paid upon receipt of invoice unless the … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Holds That Meal And Rest Break Premiums Must Include All Forms Of Remuneration (Not Just Base Hourly Rate)

On July 15, 2021, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC, in which it held that meal and rest break premiums required under California Labor Code section 226.7 (“Section 226.7”) must be paid at non-exempt employees’ regular rate of pay—not merely their base hourly rate.  The decision, which … 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 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

Opening Up To the New Normal

With COVID-19 cases falling and vaccination rates increasing, the County of Los Angeles is updating guidance for reopening the economy. Effective Monday, April 5, 2021, Los Angeles County non-essential office-based businesses can now reopen indoors, at 50% capacity, per the new County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health Order of the Health Officer. This … Continue Reading

Statewide Supplemental Paid COVID-19 Sick Leave Resuscitated, Expanded, and Retroactive Back to January 1, 2021

On Thursday, March 18, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 95 (“SB 95”) which will provide statewide supplemental paid COVID-19 sick leave, retroactively to January 1, 2021. Governor Newsom signed SB 95 on Friday, March 19. California’s previous supplemental paid COVID-19 sick leave (covered here) expired on December 31, 2020. Since then, California employers have … 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

California Updates Its Pay Data Reporting Requirements – Reports are due by March 31, 2021!

UPDATED February 18, 2021: The portal is now open and can be accessed on DFEH’s pay data reporting homepage along with the guide, template, and example. UPDATED February 3, 2021: The DFEH has released a User Guide, reporting Template, and reporting Example. The portal will be available on February 16, 2021. SB 973, enacted on … Continue Reading

The ABCs of Independent Contractor Classification: California Supreme Court Holds Strict Independent Contractor Test Applies Retroactively

On January 14, 2021, the California Supreme Court decided, at the request of the Ninth Circuit, that its decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, 4 Cal.5th 903 (2018) applies retroactively. Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc. (SC S258191 1/14/21). Dynamex adopted the “ABC test” for determining whether a worker is an employee … Continue Reading

California’s New Supplemental Paid COVID-19 Sick Leave, Effective September 19, 2020

On September 9, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1867 (“AB 1867”), which is intended to fill gaps left by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The new law requires that private employers with 500 or more employees in the United States provide eligible (non-food sector) employees with up to 80 hours of supplemental … Continue Reading

California Amends Independent Contractor Law (Again) – New Exemptions for Music Industry Workers, Freelance Writers and Photographers

Last Friday, September 4, Governor Newsom signed AB 2257, which includes a slew of modifications to the now-infamous AB5, which went into effect this year and codified the strict ABC independent contractor test, which we have addressed previously in this blog. With this new amendment, there are now more than 100 exemptions and limitations to … Continue Reading

“Oh, We Were Just Leaving!”: California Court Halts Order Requiring Uber and Lyft to Reclassify Drivers

Last week, Uber Technologies, Inc. and Lyft, Inc. announced that they would suspend ridesharing operations in the State of California in response to an August 10, 2020 San Francisco Superior Court judge’s preliminary injunction, requiring the companies to reclassify their California drivers as “employees” within 10 days.  The order came in the context of a … 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

Mask On, Roll Camera: LA County Greenlights Hollywood Production Restart

As we previously reported, last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom and California’s State Public Health Officer cleared the music, film and television industry to resume work no earlier than this Friday, June 12, 2020, subject to county-by-county approval.  On June 10, 2020, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, announced that she was … Continue Reading

The Wait is (Almost) Over! California Greenlights Resumption of Music, Film and Television Production

  On Friday June 5, Gov. Newsom announced that California has authorized the music, film and television production industries to reopen on or after this coming Friday, June 12, 2020.  The same day, Gov. Newsom announced the reopening of fitness facilities, day camps, and several other industries. Although the State Public Health Officer had been … Continue Reading
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