California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Workplace Safety

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Real WFH Stories: Employer Not Responsible for Ensuring Safety of Employees’ Homes, Appeals Court Holds

California law requires employers to furnish a “safe and healthful” workplace to employees. Now that the line between “workplace” and “home” has been blurred for so many workers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the law has been unclear as to whether that obligation extends to an employee whose “workplace” happens to be their … 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

OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Exceeded Its Statutory Authority

National Fed’n of Indep. Bus. v. OSHA, 595 U.S. ___, 142 S. Ct. 661 (2022) The United States Secretary of Labor, acting through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, enacted a vaccine mandate that would have required employers with at least 100 employees to require their employees (approximately 84 million workers) to receive a COVID-19 … 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

September 2021 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted September 2021 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Ninth Circuit Rejects “Paramour Preference” Liability Arising From Supervisor’s Affair With Another Employee $3.5 Million Emotional Distress Award Was “Shockingly Disproportionate” To Evidence Of Harm … Continue Reading

Hirer Of Independent Contractor Is Not Liable For Injuries To Workers

Gonzalez v. Mathis, 2021 WL 3671594 (Cal. S. Ct. 2021) John R. Mathis (aka Johnny Mathis) lives in a one-story house with a flat, sand-and-gravel roof.  The roof contains a large skylight covering an indoor pool.  Luis Gonzalez is a professional window washer who regularly cleaned Mathis’s skylight.  At the direction of Mathis’s housekeeper, Gonzalez … Continue Reading

You Get a Shot, and You Get a Shot! California Paves the Way for Mandatory Vaccination Policies

Weeks after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) weighed in, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) recently released updated COVID-19 employment FAQs addressing the permissibility of employer-mandated COVID-19 vaccination policies. Taking a page from the EEOC’s January 2021 guidance, the DFEH indicated that employers may require employees to receive an FDA emergency use … Continue Reading

As COVID-19 Cases Overwhelm the Golden State, Cal/OSHA Imposes More Burdens on Employers

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as “Cal/OSHA,” recently issued new emergency temporary standards to protect workers from COVID-19 (the “Emergency Temporary Standards”), which were approved by the Office of Administrative Law earlier this week.  The Emergency Temporary Standards, which are now in effect, apply to virtually all California employers, employees, and … Continue Reading

March 2020 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted March 2020 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Time Spent By Employees In Exit Searches Is Compensable Prior Pay Is Not A Defense To An Equal Pay Act Claim Constructive Termination And Joint … Continue Reading

The Electric Scooter Craze: What Can Employers Do to Protect Themselves from Potential Liability?

If you haven’t ridden one yet, it’s likely you’ve had one fly by you on the sidewalk. Electric scooters – or e-scooters – have quickly descended upon most major cities in America. These app-based scooters let a user ride across the city at up to 15 m.p.h. and then discard the scooter wherever the rider happens … Continue Reading

Payments Made To Union Trust Fund Are Not Subject To California Wage Statement Law

Mora v. Webcor Constr., L.P., 20 Cal. App. 5th 211 (2018) Steven Mora filed this putative class action/PAGA claim against his former employer, Webcor Construction, for violation of the California wage statement statute (Cal. Lab. Code § 226(a)) based upon payments made to a union vacation trust fund authorized by the Labor Management Relations Act … Continue Reading

Employer May Be Liable For Sexual Harassment By Nonemployee Trespasser

M.F. v. Pacific Pearl Hotel Mgmt. LLC, 2017 WL 4831603 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017) M.F., a housekeeping employee who worked for a hotel, alleged she had been raped while working on the employer’s premises by a drunk, nonemployee trespasser whom the employer knew or should have known was on the premises and who had “aggressively … Continue Reading

Employee Injured During “Mock Robbery” Was Not Limited To Workers’ Compensation Remedy

Lee v. West Kern Water Dist., 5 Cal. App. 5th 606 (2016) Kathy Lee, an employee of the water district, sued the district and four co-employees for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress after the co-employees staged a “mock robbery” without Lee’s knowledge and one of them (while wearing a mask) confronted her at … Continue Reading

Indoor Heat Illness Regulations Mandated

This bill requires by January 1, 2019 that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health propose to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board for the board’s review and adoption, a heat illness and injury prevention standard applicable to workers working in indoor places of employment. (SB 1167.)… Continue Reading

Clarification Regarding The Use Of Smart Phones While Driving

A handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device may be operated in a manner requiring the use of the driver’s hand while the driver is operating the vehicle only if both of the following conditions are satisfied: (1) The handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield in … Continue Reading

Contractor May Be Entitled To Indemnity From Subcontractor For Injuries To Sub’s Employees

Aluma Sys. Concrete Constr. of Cal. v. Nibbi Bros., Inc., 2 Cal. App. 5th 620 (2016) Aluma (the “Contractor”) was sued by employees of Nibbi Bros. (the “Employer”) for injuries sustained on the job. Contractor sued Employer for indemnification based on the parties’ contract. The trial court sustained the Employer’s demurrer to the complaint on … Continue Reading

Male Deputies Prohibited From Supervising Female Inmates Could Proceed With Sex Discrimination Case (Is Orange the New Black?)

Ambat v. City & County of San Francisco, 2014 WL 2959634 (9th Cir. 2014) The plaintiffs in this case are current and former deputies of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department (“SFSD”) who challenged the SFSD’s policy prohibiting male deputies from supervising female inmates. The deputies contend that the policy violates Title VII’s prohibition against sex … Continue Reading

Loss Of Consortium Claim Of Injured Employee’s Spouse Should Have Been Dismissed

LeFiell Mfg. Co. v. Superior Court, 2012 WL 3570743 (Cal. S. Ct. 2012) O’Neil Watrous and his wife Nidia filed a civil action against LeFiell Manufacturing for injuries O’Neil suffered while he was operating a swaging machine at work. The swaging machine is a “power press machine” within the meaning of Cal. Labor Code § … Continue Reading

Employee of Independent Contractor Cannot Sue Company That Hired Contractor for Negligence

SeaBright Ins. Co. v. US Airways, Inc., 52 Cal. 4th 590 (2011) US Airways uses a conveyor to move luggage at San Francisco International Airport. US Airways hired independent contractor Lloyd W. Aubry Co. to maintain and repair the conveyor and did not direct Aubry’s employees in their work. The conveyor lacked certain safety guards … Continue Reading

Jury Should Have Been Instructed That Employer Had Burden Of Proof On FMLA Reinstatement Claim

Sanders v. City of Newport, 657 F.3d 772 (2011) Diane Sanders, a utility billing clerk for the City of Newport, Oregon, began suffering health problems, which (according to her doctor) were due to “multiple chemical sensitivity” triggered by handling low-grade paper at work and poor air quality in her work area. Sanders took an FMLA … Continue Reading

Studio That Provided Financing For Motion Picture Is Not Liable For Injury To Production Company Employee

Angelotti v. The Walt Disney Co., 192 Cal. App. 4th 1394 (2011) Anthony Angelotti was injured while rehearsing a stunt for a film that was being produced by Second Mate Productions, Inc. Angelotti sued Second Mate as well as The Walt Disney Company, which provided the financing for the film. Angelotti alleged that Disney had … Continue Reading

Swine Flu: Is Your Workplace Prepared?

As of this writing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 109 cases of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, in the United States. The World Health Organization has confirmed 331 cases of swine flu worldwide and has raised the pandemic threat level to Phase 5 on its six-step scale (Phase … Continue Reading
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