Can California Employers Combine Rest Breaks into One Break?

One common source of PAGA penalties occurs when employers fail to authorize and permit the rest breaks that are required under California law.   When this happens, workers can recover one hour of pay at their regular hourly rate for each day they are deprived of one or more rest breaks.  They can also seek penalties […]


Perez v. U-Haul: Employers cannot compel arbitration of standing issue in PAGA cases

Some companies continue to try to force employees to arbitrate their individual PAGA claims before bringing their representative PAGA claims in court.  Two appellate decisions make it crystal clear that California courts have rejected these efforts, and that workers are not required to litigate PAGA claims in multiple forums.

By way of background, in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation, the California Supreme Court held that employers could not compel plaintiffs to arbitrate their representative PAGA claims.  In the wake of that case, some defendants began to argue that where workers had signed an arbitration agreement, they should be required to arbitrate their individual claims before proceeding with their representative claims in court. Continue reading “Perez v. U-Haul: Employers cannot compel arbitration of standing issue in PAGA cases”


California Wage Statements and Exempt Employees

Gear-and-Gavel_dark-blueCalifornia Labor Code section 226 requires that an employer provide its employees with wage statements, sometimes known as pay stubs, when it pays their wages.  Section 226(a) provides a list of the specific information that must be included in wage statements.  Employers that ignore these requirements face liability both under section 226(e), and, through PAGA, under section 226.3.

One of the requirements of section 226(a) is that the employer state the total number of hours that an employee worked.  This requirement is important for most employees, because it is the most effective way to figure out whether you are paid for all hours worked.  But what about employees who are not paid by the hour, like salaried employees or employees who are paid on a commission basis? Continue reading “California Wage Statements and Exempt Employees”


PAGA and Intervention: Replacing a Plaintiff Who Wants Out

One of the seminal cases in the world of California’s Private Attorneys General Act, or PAGA, is Iskanian v. CLS Transportation.  Iskanian wound its way up to the California Supreme Court, which ultimately held that arbitration agreements that attempt to limit a plaintiff’s right to bring PAGA actions are unenforceable.

Now Iskanian is back in the news.  After years of struggle, the plaintiff, Mr. Iskanian, decided that he did not want to proceed with the case.  (It is unclear why he reached that decision.)  In an interesting twist, he then filed a motion, representing himself, to dismiss his individual claims (which were being arbitrated) as well as his PAGA claims.  His attorneys then sought to replace him with Mr. Frost, another individual from the group of limousine drivers that Mr. Iskanian belonged to.   Continue reading “PAGA and Intervention: Replacing a Plaintiff Who Wants Out”


New PAGA Rules Take Effect July 1, 2016

Governor Jerry Brown’s budget for 2016-17 contains several significant amendments to the procedural requirements of the Private Attorneys General Act, or PAGA.  These amendments apply to PAGA cases filed on or after July 1, 2016.  They are limited to cases alleging violations of the California Labor Code provisions listed in Labor Code section 2699.5. The amendments fall […]


Is Your Employer Required to Provide You With a Seat?

California employers require many employees to stand all day, despite the fact that they could provide seats if they wanted to.  This practice is common in the retail industry, among others.  But is it legal?

For certain employees, under certain circumstances, the answer is no.  Many of the California wage orders contain language requiring that “[a]ll working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.”  They also provide that “[w]hen employees are not engaged in the active duties of their employment and the nature of the work requires standing, an adequate number of suitable seats shall be placed in reasonable proximity to the work area and employees shall be permitted to use such seats when it does not interfere with the performance of their duties.”

When an employer fails to meet either of these requirements, it may be subject to penalties under California’s Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”).  Although the wage orders themselves do not provide for penalties for violating seating requirements, California Labor Code section 1198 prohibits employers from violating the wage orders.  PAGA permits employees to bring claims for civil penalties based upon violations of the Labor Code.  Therefore, employees can bring PAGA claims for failure to provide suitable seating in violation of the wage orders. Continue reading “Is Your Employer Required to Provide You With a Seat?”


The Timing of Rest Breaks: Before or After Meal Breaks, and Can a Company Combine Breaks into One Long Break?

Two questions have bedevilled practitioners representing workers in California ever since the California Supreme Court issued Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court in 2012:  In a shift that qualifies for two rest breaks and one meal break, are employers required to provide one rest break before the meal break Gear-and-Gavel_dark-blueand the other one after?  And, on a related note, can an employer combine multiple rest breaks into one long rest break?

In Rodriguez v. E.M.E., Inc. (April 22, 2016), the employees worked eight hour shifts.  The defendant provided them with one meal break and one 20 minute rest break that fell either before or after the meal break.  The Second District Court of Appeal used this scenario to provide some critical guidance with respect to when and how employers must schedule rest breaks. Continue reading “The Timing of Rest Breaks: Before or After Meal Breaks, and Can a Company Combine Breaks into One Long Break?”