Minimum Wage, Public Employees, and the University of California

The University of California (referred to in this post as “the Regents”) employs more than two hundred thousand people. Determining which laws apply to the Regents can be challenging. Gomez v. Regents (2021) 63 Cal.App.5th 386 provides some guidance with respect to California’s wage and hour laws. In Gomez, the plaintiff challenged the Regents’ policy […]


Opposing Voter Suppression — The Battle for Georgia

I am writing this from the airport in Atlanta, where I have spent the past five days doing my best to help make sure that the Georgia Senate runoff elections were fair and that all votes were counted. The experience was both inspiring and chilling, so I am going to jot down some thoughts before the press of business and family in the “real world” re-consumes me.

First off, a disclosure: I believe very strongly that the voting process should be as easy as possible. In college (before the internet ruled our lives), I volunteered for a small organization that was trying to get the local city council to adopt a measure that would study, and, hopefully, implement a process by which voters could cast their ballots by telephone. That’s right: pick up the phone, enter your id, cast your vote, and, presto! You are done. No line, no worrying about signatures, no hassle. Despite our best efforts, and many long hours spent gathering signatures in the frigid Colorado winter, the effort failed. (Its leader, a fellow nicknamed “Evan from Heaven,” then went back to busking on the local pedestrian mall.) Continue reading “Opposing Voter Suppression — The Battle for Georgia”


California Resident Managers’ Workplace Rights

Live-in resident managers face a unique challenge: their bosses are often also their landlords. California law requires an individual to live on the premises if a building has sixteen (16) or more units. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 25, § 42. These individuals are often referred to as resident managers. Resident managers carry out various job […]


Disabled Prison Guard Wins his Third Appeal Against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation


Courts can award attorneys’ fees to the prevailing plaintiff in a discrimination or harassment claim brought under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).  These attorney fee awards are designed to incentivize and reward a plaintiff’s counsel for litigating a civil rights case that is generally taken on a contingency fee basis and therefore has inherent risks.  Trial courts first calculate the lodestar amount, which is the product of the hours spent and the prevailing hourly rate of attorneys in the community conducting similar non-contingent litigation.  Then courts can increase this amount by adding a multiplier or increasing the lodestar amount by looking at various factors, such as the risk of non-payment, the public interest in advancing civil rights cases, the complexity of the issues involved, and the skill of the attorneys.  Continue reading “Disabled Prison Guard Wins his Third Appeal Against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation”


Expanded Rights for Employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Labor posted a temporary rule on April 1, 2020 that provides most employees impacted by the coronavirus with some much-needed benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  These benefits include public emergency health leave under Title I of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and emergency paid sick […]


Employer Not Liable for an Accident Caused by its Employee

Lake MerrittKim Rushton, an employee of the City of Los Angeles (City of LA), struck and killed a pedestrian, Ralph Bingener, while commuting to work.  Mr. Rushton, a 68-year old man with neurological conditions, worked as a chemist in a water quality lab checking water for semi-volatile organic compounds.  He did not use his car for his employment.  All of Mr. Rushton’s work was performed at the lab and he rarely left the plant for work-related travel.  Continue reading “Employer Not Liable for an Accident Caused by its Employee”


Disabled Psychologist’s Claims for Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation against Department of Corrections Fail Despite Providing Doctor’s Notes

Gear and GavelAs an employee, there may be times when you need an accommodation in the workplace due to a disability.  Sometimes, your employer may ask for a doctor’s note in the course of engaging in the interactive process.  How specific do the doctor’s notes need to be?  A recently published case provides some insight into this question.

Plaintiff John Doe began working at Ironwood State Prison as a psychologist in 2012.  In 2013, he requested to work in a quiet place that allowed him to focus and concentrate.  Continue reading “Disabled Psychologist’s Claims for Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation against Department of Corrections Fail Despite Providing Doctor’s Notes”


San Francisco State University Professor Prevails on Retaliation Claim

San Francisco State University (SFSU) hired Rashmi Gupta in 2006 as a tenure track assistant professor in the School of Social Work.  Generally, tenure track professors work for a six year term.  After that, SFSU decides whether or not to promote a tenure track professor to the position of associate professor and award lifetime tenure.

Dr. Gupta initially faced some hurdles when she began teaching at SFSU.  Her student evaluations were lower than average; however, Dr. Gupta was praised for her efforts in research, scholarship and publication.  By 2009, Dr. Gupta had overcome her initial challenges and was receiving positive reviews from students and peer evaluators.

In 2009, Dr. Gupta and several other women of color in the School of Social Work lodged a complaint with the provost to express their concerns about the abuse of power, bullying, micromanagement and a hostile work environment at SFSU.  At a follow up meeting, the women expressed concern about the Director of the School of Social Work, and more generally, about discrimination against people of color on campus.

Less than two months after Dr. Gupta lodged her complaints, she received a negative performance review.  Many of the criticisms in the review were inaccurate.  Dr. Gupta then emailed a colleague complaining that SFSU was hostile toward women of color, and named two individuals for creating the hostile work environment, Don Taylor and Rita Takahashi.  At a meeting in March 2010, Dr. Taylor told Dr. Gupta that he knew about the emails, and threatened “to get even with [her].” Continue reading “San Francisco State University Professor Prevails on Retaliation Claim”


Can California Workers Recover Waiting Time Penalties, Wage Statement Penalties, or Attorneys’ Fees for Meal and Rest Period Violations?

A recent decision from the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District in the case of Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc. (September 26, 2019) Case No. B256232 addresses several unresolved questions pertaining to meal and rest periods in California.

First, the Court upheld the trial court’s ruling that Spectrum had not met the requirements for an on-duty meal period because, during part of the class period, it did not have a written agreement in which the employees were advised that the agreement could be revoked.  In reaching this conclusion the Court rejected Spectrum’s argument that it had substantially complied with the on-duty meal period requirements. Continue reading “Can California Workers Recover Waiting Time Penalties, Wage Statement Penalties, or Attorneys’ Fees for Meal and Rest Period Violations?”