California Employment Law Update
Philippe A. Lebel

Philippe A. Lebel

Philippe (Phil) A. Lebel represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, including wage and hour, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower, trade secrets, and breach of contract litigation, in both the single-plaintiff and class-action context, at both the trial and appellate level, and before administrative agencies. Phil also represents employers in connection with labor law matters, such as labor arbitrations and proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board. Additionally, Phil counsels clients to ensure compliance with federal and state labor and 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.

Phil has assisted clients with labor and/or employment issues in a wide array of sectors including in the entertainment, financial services, fitness, retail, telecommunications, healthcare, insurance, education, media, high-tech, biotech, manufacturing, transportation, professional services, and staffing industries, among others.

Phil regularly speaks on emerging issues for employers and has been published or quoted in Law360, the Daily JournalBusiness 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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California Expands Its Already Generous Leave Requirements To Cover Even Smaller Employers

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the flurry of associated leave issues, Gov. Newsom recently signed Senate Bill 1383 (“SB 1383”) into law, which provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) to employers with as few as five employees.  Beginning on January 1, 2021, when SB 1383 takes … Continue Reading

California Mandates Diversity Quotas for Corporate Boards

On September 30, 2020, Gov. Newsom signed Assembly Bill 979 (“AB 979”) into law.  The new statute, which adds section 301.4 to the Corporations Code, is aimed at increasing representation from communities of color and the LGBT community on the boards of publicly traded companies.  The law follows in the footsteps of earlier legislation that … Continue Reading

Spread The Word: California Enacts COVID-19 Exposure Notification Law

Late last week, Gov. Newsom signed AB 685 into law which, among other things, adds section 6409.6 (“Section 6409.6”) to the Labor Code.  The new statute, which takes effect January 1, 2021, requires that employers notify employees and, in some instances, public health officials about COVID-19 exposures at work. Specifically, Section 6409.6 requires that employers … 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

“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

Even a Worldwide Pandemic Is No Excuse For Blowing A Class Certification Deadline!

For years, federal courts in California have been inundated with wage and hour class actions.  Because these cases often clogged district court dockets for months (and, sometimes, even years) on end, the Central District of California issued the former Local Rule 23-3, which set a 90-day deadline to file a motion for class certification from … 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

Time to Work Off the COVID 19 (lbs)… California Fitness Employers Reopen!

California has long been considered one of the “capitals” of the fitness industry as it is home to thousands of gyms and boutique fitness studios.  COVID-19 hit the state’s fitness industry particularly hard when shelter-in-place orders were announced in mid-March and, as we detailed in an article last month, now presents unique reopening challenges. On … 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

Lights, Camera, PPE: Hollywood Guilds and Studios Take Action On Resuming Production

As we discussed in a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter in April, the entertainment industry faces unique challenges as it plans to resume operations.  On May 20, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom suggested that California would release guidelines for reopening the entertainment industry by Memorial Day.  However, to date, California’s Public Health Officer has not … Continue Reading

California Will Presume COVID-19 Infections Arose From On-Site Work Performed After March 19

On May 6, 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-62-20, which creates a time-limited rebuttable presumption that workers who are still reporting to their employer’s workplace and who test positive for COVID-19 are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.  Specifically, the Order provides that any COVID-19-related illness of an employee shall be “presumed to arise out … Continue Reading

Los Angeles Issues New Sick Leave Rules

On March 27, 2020, the Los Angeles City Council approved a new ordinance that would have required Los Angeles employers to provide up to 80 hours of supplemental sick leave relating to COVID-19.  The broadly-worded ordinance provoked opposition from some in the business community.  Last night, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a Public Order Under … Continue Reading

Lockdown Bay Area: Northern California Jurisdictions Extend and Expand Shelter-In-Place Orders

As we previously reported, six Bay Area counties and the City of Berkeley previously issued expansive shelter-in-place orders requiring all but “Essential Businesses” to cease operations.  Yesterday, all seven jurisdictions (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties and the City of Berkeley) issued orders extending their shelter-in-place requirements through May … Continue Reading

California Orders Residents (All 40 Million!) To Shelter In Place

Today, March 19, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 requiring all individuals living in California to “stay home or at their place of residence except as necessary to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.”  Individuals are permitted to leave their homes for necessities such as obtaining food, prescriptions and … 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 Cities and Counties Advise (or Order) Businesses to Close Up Shop

In the last few days, California’s most populous cities and counties have issued broad-sweeping guidelines to businesses to curb the spread of COVID-19 through enhanced social distancing measures.  These orders, most of which last through the end of March or early April, vary significantly in scope and severity. On March 15, 2020, the City of … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Hands Plaintiffs’ Lawyers A Gift…

Today, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in Kim v. Reins Int’l Cal., Inc., holding that an employee’s settlement and dismissal of underlying Labor Code claims does not deprive the individual of the ability to later assert a representative action under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”)—even if it involves the … 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

California Supreme Court Hands Employers A Rare Victory, Trims Bloated PAGA Claims

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court held that private litigants may not recover unpaid wages under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”).  See ZB, N.A. v. Superior Court (Lawson) (Cal. S. Ct. Sept. 12, 2019). In a rearguard effort to fight employment arbitration agreements, which usually include class action waivers, plaintiffs’ lawyers have been … Continue Reading
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