California Employment Law Update
Laura Reathaford

Laura Reathaford

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Multiple PAGA Representative Claims Crumble As Federal Courts Continue To Reject Iskanian and Enforce Arbitration Agreements Containing PAGA Waivers

When the California Supreme Court decided Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal. 4th 348 (2014), this June, some legal commentators assumed that employees could not waive pre-litigation claims under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Those assumptions may have been premature. As we noted here, at least one federal court refused to … Continue Reading

PAGA Claims and Arbitration – A Federal Court Parts Ways With Iskanian

The California Supreme Court’s decision in Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, (discussed here), held that class action waivers in arbitration agreements are enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) except as to claims that were made pursuant to the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). PAGA allows aggrieved employees to represent other current and … Continue Reading

Lawful Shmawful: Ninth Circuit Ignores Lawful Written Policy and Uses Statistical Sampling to Certify Class Based on Alleged “Unofficial Policy”

On September 3, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld certification of a class of approximately 800 nonexempt insurance claims adjusters who claimed they worked overtime without compensation despite the employer’s lawful written policy to pay nonexempt employees for all hours worked. In Jimenez v. Allstate Ins. Co., the Ninth Circuit upheld … Continue Reading

Employers Should Now Run—Not Walk—Toward Adopting Arbitration Agreements in California

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, upholding class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements. This means that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2011 opinion in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion is to be given full force and effect in the employment setting in California. That … Continue Reading

California Courts May No Longer Be Able to Certify a Ham Sandwich

Commentators have quipped that class certification is so easy in California that with little effort a group of plaintiffs could certify even a ham sandwich.  In fact, as we have discussed here, we have seen a proliferation of recent appellate decisions hinging class certification on the mere existence of an employer’s uniform policy – no … Continue Reading

Rebuking “Trial by Formula,” Federal Court Decertifies Rule 23(b)(3) Class Action

In Stiller v. Costco Wholesale Corp., No. 3:09-cv-2473-GPC-BGS, Plaintiffs Eric Stiller and Joseph Moro alleged that Costco’s loss-prevention closing procedures effectively “forced” employees to work off-the clock without getting paid because they were required to remain on-site after they had clocked out of their shifts to go through security screenings. In December 2010, the district court … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Clarifies CAFA Removal Requirements

In its recent per curiam opinion in Rea v. Michaels Stores, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit clarified rules and procedures relevant to defendants seeking to remove cases to federal court. In Rea, the plaintiffs filed a class action alleging that Michaels improperly classified California store managers as exempt from overtime. Michaels removed … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Holds that State Courts Have Concurrent Jurisdiction over FCA Retaliation Claims

On January 30, 2014, the California Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District ruled that California State courts have concurrent jurisdiction over retaliation claims under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) in Driscoll v. Superior Court (Spencer). The following addresses the basis for that ruling and its implications. Background Radiologist Scott Driscoll worked for physician Todd Spencer and … Continue Reading

California Appellate Court Affirms Denial Of Class Certification

As we recently reported here, there have been a number of appellate decisions ordering class certification based on the existence of an employer’s companywide policy – all while overlooking numerous individualized questions that would undoubtedly create manageability problems during trial.  On December 30, 2013, the California Court of Appeal in Johnson v. California Pizza Kitchen, … Continue Reading

California Employers Down, But Not Out, Concerning Class Certification Issues

Shortly after the California Supreme Court issued its 2012 decision in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, employers saw an immediate uptick in appellate court decisions supporting the denial of class certification to plaintiffs in wage and hour lawsuits. Today, the opposite seems to be true: appellate courts are reversing decisions denying class certification and … Continue Reading

New California Law Expands Protections for Whistleblowers

On October 12, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 496, which, along with two other new laws (SB 666 and AB 263), expands protections for whistleblowers in California by significantly altering California Labor Code Section 1102.5, California’s general whistleblower statute. The amendments are effective January 1, 2014. Before it was amended, Section … Continue Reading

San Francisco Provides Employees With Flexible Work Arrangements

The Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2014, requiring employers with 20 or more employees in San Francisco to consider flexible scheduling for workers with caregiving responsibilities.  Intended to respond to “an increased number of women in the workforce, fewer households with children that have at least one parent staying at … Continue Reading

Court Holds Arbitration Agreement Requiring Employee to Pay Half of Arbitration Costs is Unconscionable

In Chavarria v. Ralphs Grocery Co., No. 11-56673, 2013 WL 5779332 (9th Cir. Oct. 28, 2013), the plaintiff, a former deli clerk, brought a class action against Ralphs for various alleged wage and hour violations of the California Labor Code.  As a condition of employment, Chavarria signed an arbitration agreement containing a class action waiver.  … Continue Reading

CA Supreme Court Holds That Employees Are Bound By Arbitration Agreements Waiving Right To A Labor Comm’r Hearing

Frank Moreno agreed, as a condition of his employment with Sonic-Calabasas A, Inc., to arbitrate all of this employment disputes with his employer.  After terminating his employment with Sonic, Moreno filed an administrative wage claim with the Labor Commissioner for unpaid vacation pay.  Filing such a claim is the first step toward obtaining a “Berman” … Continue Reading

Employer Held Not Vicariously Liable For Employee’s Alleged Negligent Use Of Company Car

Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. provided Troy Martinez with a company vehicle to use in the execution of his duties.  After completing a day’s work, Martinez drove to Bakersfield with his family to purchase a car for his wife.  The trip to Bakersfield on this occasion exceeded his normal commute by approximately 140 miles (notably, Martinez … Continue Reading

Brinker Round 2: Plaintiffs Secure Class Certification in Trial Court

After the renowned remand from the California Supreme Court, the Hohnbaum plaintiffs in Brinker Rest. Corp. v. Superior Court, 53 Cal. 4th 1004 (2012) sought to certify meal period claims alleging that all California employees were denied meal periods because Brinker’s corporate meal period policies were unlawful. Plaintiffs argued that Brinker’s corporate policies were unlawful … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Invalidates Attempt To Plead Around CAFA’s Jurisdictional Amount In Controversy

In 2005, Congress passed the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), which creates federal jurisdiction over class actions involving more than 100 class members and $5 million in controversy. Plaintiffs have long attempted to avoid CAFA’s invocation of federal jurisdiction by stipulating to no more than $5 million in classwide damages. In Standard Fire Ins. Co. … Continue Reading

Right To Compel Arbitration Agreement Not Waived If Plaintiff Suffered No Prejudice From Delay

In a post last week, we noted a recent trend of federal courts strongly enforcing employment arbitration agreements under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). That trend continues in Richards v. Ernst & Young, LLP, Case No. 11-17530 (9th Cir. Aug. 21, 2013), which holds that a defendant’s pretrial participation in litigation does not, absent prejudice … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Reaffirms Enforceability of Arbitration Agreements Containing Collective Action Waivers In Two FLSA Cases

Two recent decisions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit have reaffirmed the enforceability of employment-related arbitration agreements containing class action waivers. In Sutherland v. Ernst & Young and Raniere v. Citigroup, Inc. the Second Circuit held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires courts to enforce a valid agreement to arbitrate … Continue Reading

“Rounding” Is Lawful In California – As Long As It’s Even-Handed

Pamela Silva brought a wage-and-hour class action against her former employer, See’s Candy Shops, Inc., alleging, in part, that See’s failed to pay her wages for all hours worked because the See’s timekeeping system rounded employee time entries to the nearest tenth of an hour/nearest six minutes.  In response to the complaint, See’s alleged that … Continue Reading

The California Court of Appeal Interprets The Applicability Of Reporting Time Pay And Split-Shift Premium Pay To Scheduled Training Meetings

The California Court of Appeal in Aleman v. AirTouch Cellular has addressed for the first time; (1) whether reporting time pay applies to training meetings which are scheduled in advance; (2) whether Split-shift premium pay should be paid if an employee earns more than the minimum wage for all hours worked plus one additional hour of pay … Continue Reading

Brinker Dooms Class Certification of Meal and Rest Period Claims

Plaintiff Rogelio Hernandez brought a putative class action lawsuit for Chipotle’s alleged failure to provide meal and rest breaks to its non-managerial employees pursuant to California Labor Code Section 226.7. The California Court of Appeal held that the Supreme Court’s decision in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal. 4th 1004, precluded class certification … Continue Reading

California Court Approves Class Action Waivers In Employment Arbitration Agreements

The plaintiff in Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, brought a putative class action and a representative action under California’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) for various wage and hour violations. During his employment, Iskanian agreed that he would not assert class action or representative action claims against his employer and, instead, agreed to submit … Continue Reading
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