California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: California Labor & Employment Law

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Employee with Mild Symptoms of COVID-19 Was Not “Disabled” Under California Law

In Michelle Roman v. Hertz Local Edition Corp., a United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of California granted summary judgment in favor of Hertz, and against former employee Michelle Roman, whose employment was terminated after she contracted COVID.  Roman claimed that her job should have been protected by the California Fair Employment … 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

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

Judge Reduces $137 Million Race Harassment Verdict Against Tesla to $15 Million

A federal court judge pared down last year’s jaw-dropping $137 million damages award against Tesla in a racial bias lawsuit.  As covered previously here, a San Francisco federal court jury awarded $6.9 million in emotional distress damages and $130 million in punitive damages to a Black former elevator operator who worked at Tesla’s Fremont facility … 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

Court Declares California Law Requiring Diverse Corporate Boards Unconstitutional

As discussed in our previous blog, on April 1, 2022, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, Terry Green, granted summary judgment in favor of individuals represented by D.C.-based nonprofit Judicial Watch, declaring Assembly Bill 979 (“AB 979”) to be unconstitutional and granting an “injunction preventing the expenditure of taxpayer funds on the implementation of the measure.” … 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

New “Job-Killer” Bill Would Allow Employees to Just Walk Off the Job!

The California Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee recently passed Senate Bill 1044, moving the legislation one step closer to a vote by the full state senate. SB 1044 would permit employees, without notice, to leave their workplace—or not show up to work at all—if they “feel unsafe.” SB 1044 would prohibit employers from … Continue Reading

March 2022 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted March 2022 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: California Relaxes Standard For Proving Whistleblower Claims At-Will Employee Can Proceed With Labor Code § 970 Claim Doctor Proved Age/Race/Gender Discrimination Former Owner of Company Is … Continue Reading

Former Owner of Company Is Enjoined From Soliciting Customers

Blue Mountain Enterprises, LLC v. Owen, 74 Cal. App. 5th 537 (2022) Gregory S. Owen transferred his ownership interest in several real estate and construction-related firms to Blue Mountain Enterprises, LLC, as part of a joint venture with Acolyte Limited. Owen became Blue Mountain’s CEO and he agreed to a post-employment non-solicitation provision, which precluded … Continue Reading

Doctor Proved Age/Race/Gender Discrimination

Department of Corr. & Rehab. v. State Pers. Bd., 2022 WL 354657 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022) Vickie Mabry-Height, M.D., sued the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, alleging discrimination on the basis of age, race and gender in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The State Personnel Board sustained Dr. Mabry-Height’s complaint … 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

At-Will Employees May Sue Their Employer For Misrepresentation Of Intended Job Duties

A recent California Court of Appeal decision confirms that a California employer may be liable to an at-will employee who relocates to accept a new employment position, when the employer’s description of the kind or character of the job was misleading.  In the case Kenneth Allen White v. Smule, Inc., the Court of Appeal reversed … 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

California Supreme Court Relaxes Standard Needed to Prove Whistleblower Retaliation

The California Supreme Court has resolved an inconsistency that has divided the courts as to the proper evidentiary standard necessary to prove a whistleblower retaliation claim.  Lawson v. PPG Architectural Finishes, Inc., No. S266001, 2022 WL 244731 (Cal. Jan. 27, 2022). Background Plaintiff Wallen Lawson, who was discharged by his employer PPG Architectural Finishes for … Continue Reading

House Passes Bill Barring “Mandatory Arbitration” in Sexual Assault and Harassment Cases

On February 7, 2022, in a 335-97 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill (“Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act”), which would prohibit “mandatory arbitration” in sexual assault and harassment cases arising or accruing on or after the date of enactment.  This bill also invalidates joint, class, or … Continue Reading

January 2022 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted January 2022 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Manicurist Can Proceed With Hostile Work Environment Claim “Volunteers for Nonprofits Are Not Employees” – Court Affirms Order In Favor Of The American Film Institute … Continue Reading

Flight Attendants Are Entitled To Labor Code Compliant Wage Statements

Gunther v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., 72 Cal. App. 5th 334 (2021) Julie Gunther is an Alaska Airlines flight attendant who lives in San Diego. In this PAGA claim, Gunther alleged that her wage statements are not compliant with Cal. Labor Code § 226 because they fail to state the total hours worked; the number of … Continue Reading

Nurse’s Discrimination Claims Against Hospital Were Properly Dismissed

Wilkin v. Community Hosp. of the Monterey Peninsula, 71 Cal. App. 5th 806 (2021) Kimberly Wilkin worked as a registered nurse for the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula before the hospital terminated her employment following its discovery she had violated the hospital’s policies governing the handling and documentation of patient medications. After her termination, … Continue Reading

“Volunteers for Nonprofits Are Not Employees” – Court Affirms Order In Favor Of The American Film Institute

Woods v. American Film Institute, 2021 WL 5978072 (Cal. Ct. App. 2021) Laurie Woods worked for four days as a volunteer at the AFI Film Festival in Los Angeles. She alleges that she worked between 12 and 14 hours each of those days and that she and the other volunteers she purported to represent in … 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
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