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An Employer Can Potentially be Held Liable if a Nonemployee Sexually Harasses an Employee

 

What happens if a nonemployee harasses or sexually assaults an employee in the workplace?  Is the employer liable?  Possibly.  On October 26, 2017, the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District considered whether an employee’s claims against her employer for violating the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for harassment and failing to prevent harassment overcame the workers’ compensation exclusivity doctrine.  M.F. v. Pacific Pearl Hotel Management, LLC (D070150, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, 10/26/17).  Continue reading “An Employer Can Potentially be Held Liable if a Nonemployee Sexually Harasses an Employee”

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New California Law Prohibits Employers from Asking Job Applicants about Salary History

 

On October 12, 2017, Assembly Bill 168, which prohibits employers from asking job applicants for salary history information, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. Governor Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2015 on the grounds that it would prevent employers “from obtaining relevant information with little evidence that this would assure more equitable wages.” This time around, the bill enjoyed the support of both parties and the governor. Continue reading “New California Law Prohibits Employers from Asking Job Applicants about Salary History”

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Recent Arbitration Decisions: Wins for Employees and Employers

A Win for Employees:

In Sprunk v. Prisma LLC, 14 Cal. App. 5th 785 (2017), the court confirmed that an employer’s right to compel arbitration against its employees is not absolute. In a detailed decision from the Second Appellate District Court of Appeal, the court found that an employer had waived the right to compel arbitration. The employer in that case filed a motion to compel arbitration against the individual named plaintiff. Fearing that the trial court would order the parties to arbitrate on a class basis, the employer withdrew its motion to compel.  The parties then proceeded to litigate the case for nearly three years. The court granted the employee’s motion for class certification, and soon thereafter the employer made a new motion to compel arbitration against all of the class members who had signed arbitration agreements. The trial judge denied the employer’s motion, finding that it had waived its right to compel arbitration based upon its delay in seeking arbitration of the employee’s individual claims and that the delay was both unreasonable and prejudicial.

Continue reading “Recent Arbitration Decisions: Wins for Employees and Employers”

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Wage Statements and PAGA: Plaintiffs need not show injury or a knowing and intentional violation to prevail

California Labor Code section 226(a) requires that employers provide accurate, itemized wage statements to employees.  Those statements must include nine categories of information.  Labor Code section 226(e)(1) provides that an employee who suffers injury as a result of a knowing and intentional failure to comply with subdivision (a) is liable for up to $4,000 plus costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.  (The terms injury and knowing and intentional failure are further defined in section 226(e)(2)).

Litigants have grappled for years over the question of whether the injury and knowing/intentional failure requirements of section 226(e) apply to a plaintiff who sues under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) seeking civil penalties for a violation of section 226(a).  Continue reading “Wage Statements and PAGA: Plaintiffs need not show injury or a knowing and intentional violation to prevail”

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Recovering Wages under PAGA:  The Battle over Labor Code Section 558

The Private Attorneys General Act, or PAGA, allows workers to recover civil penalties that otherwise would only be recoverable by the State of California.  This includes the civil penalties described in Labor Code section 558.  Section 558 is unusual because, through PAGA, it provides that workers can recover both flat rate penalties and penalties equal to their underpaid wages.  And unlike other PAGA penalties, of which 75 percent go to the State and 25 percent go to the workers, the underpaid wages recovered under section 558 all go directly to the workers.

Continue reading “Recovering Wages under PAGA:  The Battle over Labor Code Section 558”

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California Court Rules that One Year Statute of Limitations to File DFEH Complaint Runs from Last Day of Employment

If an employee is being harassed or discriminated against in the workplace, he has one year to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).  Employees and employers alike sometimes question when the one year statute of limitations starts to run.  On August 29, 2017, the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District held that an employee has one year from his last day of employment to timely file a complaint with the DFEH.  Aviles-Rodriguez v. Los Angeles Community College District, No. B278863, 2017 WL 3712199 (Cal. Ct. App. Aug. 29, 2017).    Continue reading “California Court Rules that One Year Statute of Limitations to File DFEH Complaint Runs from Last Day of Employment”

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The Ninth Circuit clarifies the requirements for standing in FCRA cases: Spokeo 2

On August 15, 2017, after remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit issued a second opinion in the case of Robins v. Spokeo, case no. 2:10-cv-05306-ODW-AGR (Spokeo II).  Spokeo II clarifies the requirements for standing under the Fair Credit Report Act (“FCRA”).  At the same time, it leaves open two critical questions that will need to be resolved by future litigation. Continue reading “The Ninth Circuit clarifies the requirements for standing in FCRA cases: Spokeo 2”

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Ninth Circuit Issues Decision Regarding Employee’s Retaliation Claim Against Employer’s Attorney

In Arias v. Raimondo, Plaintiff Jose Anrulfo Arias filed suit against his employer’s attorney, Anthony Raimondo, for retaliation after Raimondo tried to have Arias taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) during a deposition. Arias v. Raimondo, No. 15-16120 (June 22, 2017).  Raimondo was representing Angelo Dairy in a lawsuit that Arias had filed in 2006 alleging various wage and hour violations.  In an attempt to derail this lawsuit, Raimondo provided ICE with information helpful in determining Arias’ legal status in the United States, and offered to “make the necessary arrangements” to assist ICE in apprehending Arias just ten weeks before trial.  When Arias discovered what Raimondo had done, he settled his wage and hour claims out of fear that he might be deported.  Then, Arias filed suit against Raimondo for retaliation in violation of the the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) under the theory that Raimondo was acting as Angelo Dairy’s agent when he retaliated against Arias.  Continue reading “Ninth Circuit Issues Decision Regarding Employee’s Retaliation Claim Against Employer’s Attorney”

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SLAPP Motions and Discrimination Claims: The California Supreme Court Limits Defendants’ Ability To Attack FEHA Cases

California has a powerful statute that is aimed at protecting our right to engage in free speech.  Known as the SLAPP law, Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 allows people who are sued for engaging in free speech to bring a motion dismiss the lawsuit that has been filed against them.  In order to prevail […]

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California’s “Day of Rest” Requirements

In an important decision for California employees and employers, the California Supreme Court issued its opinion in Mendoza v. Nordstrom, 2 Cal. 5th 1074, 393 P.3d 375 (2017) clarifying the Labor Code’s “day of rest” requirements.  The Court was addressing questions posed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding how to interpret California Labor Code sections 551 and 552. See Mendoza v. Nordstrom, Inc., 778 F.3d 834 (9th Cir. 2015). Labor Code section 551 states that “every person employed in any occupation of labor is entitled to one day’s rest therefrom in seven.” Labor Code section 552 prohibits employers from “causing their employees to work more than six days in seven.”  However, Labor Code section 556 provides that employers do not have to provide a day of rest “when the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week or six hours in any one day thereof.”

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