California Employment Law Update
Photo of Philippe A. Lebel

Philippe A. Lebel

Senior Counsel

Philippe (Phil) A. Lebel represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, including wage and hour, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, defamation, trade secrets, and breach of contract litigation, in both the single-plaintiff and class- and/or representative-action context, at both the trial and appellate level, and before administrative agencies.

In addition to his litigation work, Phil regularly advises clients regarding compliance with federal, state and local employment laws, and assists a variety of companies and financial firms in evaluating labor and employment issues in connection with corporate transactions. Phil also has experience assisting employers with sensitive employee investigations and trainings.  Phil also represents employers in connection with labor law matters, such as labor arbitrations and proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.

Phil has assisted clients in a wide array of sectors including in the biotech, education, entertainment, financial services, fitness, healthcare, high-tech, legal services, manufacturing, media, professional services, sports, and staffing industries, among others.

Phil regularly speaks on emerging issues for employers and has been published or quoted in Law360, the Daily JournalThe Hollywood ReporterBusiness Insurance, and SHRM.org regarding a variety of labor and employment law topics.

During college, Phil worked on political campaigns in Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama, and was an intern with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. Phil is a former member of the Board of Directors of the AIDS Legal Referral Panel.

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Stick to the Schedule: Los Angeles Imposes Significant New Requirements on Retail Employers

On November 22, 2022, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed the Fair Work Week Ordinance (“FWWO”).  Set to take effect in April 2023, the new law imposes significant requirements on retail employers in the City of Los Angeles with respect to both scheduling and hiring.  It follows in the footsteps of similar predictive scheduling … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Clarifies Overtime Calculation Rules for Shift Premiums and Holiday Pay Under California Law

To properly calculate the overtime rate for a non-exempt employee, employers must first calculate the “regular rate of pay.”  Under federal law, and the laws of most states, the regular rate is determined by dividing the employee’s total weekly remuneration (except for a handful of categories that are specifically excluded, such as gifts and payments … Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Dismantles Rounding Where Accurate Timekeeping Records Exist

A decade ago, a California Court of Appeal held that employers lawfully could round employees’ time punches if the rounding policy was neutral on its face and as applied. See See’s Candy Shops, Inc. v. Super. Ct., 210 Cal. App. 4th 889 (2012). In arriving at this conclusion, the See’s Court relied on regulations under … Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Holds Online-Only Business Websites Are Not “Public Accommodations”

On August 1, 2022, the California Court of Appeal joined longstanding Ninth Circuit precedent in determining that online-only businesses are not “public accommodations” covered under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) in  Martinez v. Cot’n Wash, Inc., 2022 WL 3025828 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022).  This may signal a change of tides of … 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

Several State “Job Killer” Bills Move One Step Closer to Passage

As covered previously here, the California Chamber of Commerce (“Chamber”) once again has identified a handful of “job killer” bills making their way through the legislative process.  This year’s crop of proposed legislation would, among other things, inflate employer data reporting requirements and further expand the scope of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”).  … 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

Spring Showers Bring Job Killer Bills to California

Pablo Neruda once said “you can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”  Likewise, California businesses’ protests against oppressive employment legislation don’t seem to stem the tide of the Legislature’s latest batch of anti-employer bills. The California Chamber of Commerce has just identified a host of recently introduced “Job Killer” Bills … Continue Reading

Gone Surfing: Could California Be the First State to Adopt a Four-Day Workweek?

In recent years, countries such as Iceland and Belgium and some domestic companies have experimented with the concept of four-day workweeks.  Now, a new bill proposed by California Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Evan Low (D-San Jose), Assembly Bill 2932 (“AB 2932”), proposes to make a four-day workweek the new normal in California for … 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 May Relax Background Check Process

Many employers undertake routine background checks as part of their hiring process.  To be effective, of course, the process has to be completed in a timely manner.  Yet, a recent court decision, All of Us or None v. Hamrick, 64 Cal. App. 5th 751 (2021), made that process appreciably more difficult by prohibiting searches of … Continue Reading

New Bill Seeks to Impose Statewide COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for All Employees and Contractors

On February 10, 2022, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks introduced Assembly Bill 1993 (“AB 1993”), which would impose COVID-19 vaccination requirements on virtually all employees and independent contractors working in California, regardless of employer/company size. AB 1993 would mandate that all employers require all of their employees and independent contractors to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19. … Continue Reading

Governor Newsom Signs Supplemental COVID-19 Sick Leave Bill

As we reported yesterday, California’s legislature enacted Assembly Bill 84 on Monday; the state’s Senate enacted the law’s counterpart the same day, Senate Bill 114.  The new statute sought to reestablish statewide supplemental COVID-19 sick leave requirements, and imposes significant obligations on employers.  Earlier today, Gov. Newsom signed the bill into law. The new sick … Continue Reading

As Cases Plummet and Mask Mandates Go Away, the Legislature Re-Enacts Supplemental COVID-19 Sick Leave

On February 7, 2022, there were two big COVID-19-related news developments in the Golden State: First, Gov. Newsom announced that California’s mask mandates would expire on February 15th. Second, the legislature voted to enact Assembly Bill 84 (“AB 84”), a law that would re-enact California’s 2020 supplemental COVID-19 leave law, and provide up to 80 … 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

California Voters May Deal a Fatal Blow to PAGA

Things aren’t looking so good for the long-term health of the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”). On top of the U.S. Supreme Court’s granting review of a case challenging PAGA’s anti-arbitration rule (as we reported here) and a separate challenge brought by an association of California business owners currently pending before the California … Continue Reading

New Variants, New Regulations: Updates to the Emergency COVID Standards Take Effect January 14th

Last month, California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“OSHSB”) readopted and revised the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”).  By and large, OSHSB’s revised ETS retain most of the key requirements of the prior version, which had last been updated last June (as we reported here).  However, the revised ETS, which will take … Continue Reading

Los Angeles Employers Now Must Provide and Monitor Masks in the Workplace

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which has responsibility for the County’s more than 10 million residents, kicked off the new year with a brand new Health Officer Order on January 5, 2022. Among other changes, the new Health Officer Order imposes significant requirements on employers with respect to face coverings (effective January … Continue Reading

Heightened PAGA Penalties Are Inapplicable For Most Wage Statement Claims

Christmas came early this year for California employers.  Bucking the trend of unrelentingly bad news for employers in the state, the California Court of Appeal has held that the default (lower) penalties found in the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) and not the heightened penalties set forth in Labor Code section 226.3 (“Section … Continue Reading

Court Rejects Netflix’s Challenge to Poaching Injunction

In the latest blow against Netflix’s aggressive recruiting practices, a California appellate court has affirmed a trial court’s injunction against Netflix and in favor of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (“Fox”), thus permanently barring the streaming giant from poaching Fox executives by inducing them to breach their fixed-term employment contracts. Netflix challenged the injunction, which … Continue Reading

Good Tidings for the Holidays! The U.S. Supreme Court Finally Will Review (and May Bury) PAGA’s Anti-Arbitration Rule

While the California Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld arbitration agreements with class action waivers (as they must under the Federal Arbitration Act), in a now infamous (and controversial) decision from 2014, the court held that an arbitration agreement could not include an enforceable waiver of an employee’s right to bring a “representative” action under the … Continue Reading

Los Angeles Jury Hands $155 Million Holiday Gift to Fired Insurance Executive

As we recently reported, California juries continue to award massive verdicts to employees with alarming regularity.  And, just in time for the holidays, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury upped the ante on Thursday, handing a fired insurance company executive a verdict totaling $155.4 million – including $150 million in punitive damages. Plaintiff Andrew Rudnicki worked … 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
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