California Employment Law Update
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Tony Oncidi

Partner

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is "brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up." Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as "outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a "phenomenal strategist" and "one of the top employment litigators in the country."

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020; www.jurispub.com), co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management ("SHRM"), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.

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November 2023 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted November 2023 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Company That Hired Competitor’s Employee Was Not Entitled To Arbitrate Claims Disability Discrimination Claim Was Properly Dismissed On Summary Judgment Employee’s Attorney’s “Pervasive Incivility” Justified … Continue Reading

Once Again, Employer Loses Right To Arbitrate By Failing To Timely Pay Arbitration Fees

Doe v. Superior Court, 95 Cal. App. 5th 346 (2023) An anonymous employee sued her former employer and former manager, alleging multiple instances of sexual harassment and assault. The former employer successfully compelled the case to arbitration. The deadline for the employer to pay the arbitration fees pursuant to Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1281.98(a)(1) … Continue Reading

Employee’s Meal and Rest Break PAGA Claims Survive Summary Judgment

Arce v. Ensign Grp., Inc., 96 Cal. App. 5th 622 (2023) Cecilia Arce worked as a certified nursing assistant at a skilled nursing facility. After her employer terminated her, she brought claims under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) that she worked through meal and rest periods and was not paid premiums she was owed … Continue Reading

Employer Improperly Delayed Pay To Employees Terminated After Onset Of COVID-19

Hartstein v. Hyatt Corp., 82 F.4th 825 (9th Cir. 2023) Karen Hartstein represents a certified class of former Hyatt employees who were laid off after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. The class alleged that Hyatt violated California law by failing to pay them immediately for their accrued vacation time and by … Continue Reading

Lawyer-Investigators Recover Attorneys’ Fees Following Successful Anti-SLAPP Motion

Ross v. Seyfarth Shaw LLP, 96 Cal. App. 5th 722 (2023) Plaintiff Natalie Operstein was a professor of linguistics at California State University, Fullerton, and plaintiff Craig Ross is her husband. In 2014, the university hired a law firm to investigate multiple accusations Operstein raised to her superiors about three of Operstein’s colleagues. Defendant Colleen Regan, … Continue Reading

Employees Were Properly Awarded $7.2 Million For Employer’s Breach Of Contract

Park v. NMSI, Inc., 96 Cal. App. 5th 616 (2023) Julie Park and Danny Chung sued their former employer (NMSI, Inc., a residential mortgage lender) for $7.2 million in profit sharing and related amounts associated with NMSI’s alleged breach of contract, which the trial court granted in the form of prejudgment right to attach orders. NMSI … Continue Reading

Employee’s Attorney’s “Pervasive Incivility” Justified $460,000 Reduction In Fees

Snoeck v. ExakTime Innovations, Inc., 2023 WL 7014096 (Cal. Ct. App. 2023) Steve Snoeck prevailed at trial on one of his six claims against his former employer, ExakTime Innovations, and was awarded $1.14 million in attorney’s fees – an amount that the trial court reduced by a “0.4 negative multiplier” to account for Snoeck’s attorney’s … Continue Reading

Disability Discrimination Claim Was Properly Dismissed On Summary Judgment

Martin v. Board of Trustees of the Cal. State Univ., 2023 WL 7537694 (Cal. Ct. App. 2023) Following the termination of his employment as director of university communications at CSUN’s Marketing and Communications Department, Jorge Martin sued the university for race, gender and sexual orientation harassment and discrimination because he is a “middle-aged, light-skinned Mexican-American, … Continue Reading

Company That Hired Competitor’s Employee Was Not Entitled To Arbitrate Claims

Mattson Tech., Inc. v. Applied Materials, Inc., 2023 WL 7180167 (Cal. Ct. App. 2023) Canfeng Lai worked for many years at Applied Materials before submitting his resignation to begin a new job at Mattson Technology (one of Applied’s competitors). First, however, Lai allegedly emailed himself a number of files containing Applied’s trade secrets. In response, … Continue Reading

Is the California Supreme Court Going to Throw Employers a Bone on PAGA?

On November 8, 2023, the California Supreme Court heard oral argument in Estrada v. Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc., a case that could have profound implications for the future of Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) litigation.  The Court granted review in order to decide whether courts have the power to strike or limit PAGA claims that … Continue Reading

In a Surprise Move, California Enacts Boatload of New Pro-Employer Laws – Nah, Just Kidding, It’s Going to be More Burdensome than Ever!

In what has become an annual tradition, California – that fabled workers’ paradise on earth – has enacted a slew of new laws that, come January, may keep even the most hearty HR professionals up at night. As we reported earlier this year (here), the California Chamber of Commerce initially identified 11 “Job Killer Bills” … Continue Reading

Employers Owe No Duty Of Care To Prevent The Spread Of COVID To Employees’ Household Members

Kuciemba v. Victory Woodworks, Inc., 14 Cal. 5th 993 (2023); 74 F.4th 1039 (9th Cir. 2023) The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that employers are not liable to nonemployees who contract COVID-19 from employee household members who bring the virus home from their workplace, because “[a]n employer does not owe a duty of care under … Continue Reading

Principal Of Former Employer Liable Based On Alter Ego Theory

Hacker v. Fabe, 92 Cal. App. 5th 1267 (2023) In 2005, attorney Jacqueline Fabe filed claim for unpaid wages against her employer with the Labor Commissioner.  Her employer then filed a malpractice suit against Fabe, and Fabe in response filed a retaliation suit with the Labor Commissioner.  Fabe and the Labor Commissioner later won on … Continue Reading

Nurse May Proceed With Class Certification On Wage Statement Claim

Woodworth v. Loma Linda Univ. Med. Ctr., 93 Cal. App. 5th 1038 (2023) Nicole Woodworth was a registered nurse at Loma Linda University Medical Center from December 2011 to June 2014.  In June 2014, she filed a putative class action against Loma Linda, alleging various wage and hour claims on behalf of herself and other … Continue Reading

Fire Chief Was Terminated For Misconduct Not Because Of His Religion

Hittle v. City of Stockton, 76 F.4th 877 (9th Cir. 2023) Ronald Hittle served as the City’s Fire Chief before he was fired (following an investigation by an outside investigator) because he lacked effectiveness and judgment in his ongoing leadership of the Fire Department; used City time and a City vehicle to attend a religious … Continue Reading

Court Affirms $7.1 Million Whistleblower Verdict

Zirpel v. Alki David Prods., Inc., 93 Cal. App. 5th 563 (2023) Karl Zirpel worked as the vice president of operations for Alki David Productions (“ADP”) before the principal of ADP, Alki David, fired him for allegedly disclosing information that Zirpel reasonably believed evidenced a violation of safety standards and for disclosing information about ADP’s … Continue Reading

Employer Must Prove “Substantial Increased Costs” Would Result From Religious Accommodation

Groff v. DeJoy, 600 U.S. ___, 143 S. Ct. 2279 (2023) Gerald Groff, an Evangelical Christian, took a mail delivery job with the USPS at a time when postal service employees were was not required to work on Sundays.  However, when the USPS began facilitating Sunday deliveries for Amazon, he was called upon to work … Continue Reading

Business Entity Agents Of Employer Share Potential FEHA Liability

Raines v. U.S. Healthworks Med. Group, 2023 WL 5341067 (Cal. S. Ct. 2023) The Ninth Circuit certified to the California Supreme Court the question of whether FEHA’s definition of “employer” extends to corporate agents of the employer such as a company that conducts preemployment medical screenings.  In this putative class action, plaintiffs allege that their … Continue Reading

Arbitrator Correctly Enforced Release Agreement Executed By Employee

Castelo v. Xceed Fin. Credit Union, 91 Cal. App. 5th 777 (2023) Elizabeth Castelo sued her former employer Xceed Financial Credit Union for wrongful termination and age discrimination in violation of FEHA.  After the parties stipulated to binding arbitration, the arbitrator granted summary judgment to Xceed based on a release that Castelo signed after she … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Emergency Order Extending Statute Of Limitations For Civil Cases Upheld

LaCour v. Marshalls of Cal., LLC, 2023 WL 5543622 (Cal. Ct. App. 2023) Plaintiff Robert LaCour, a former “loss prevention specialist” for Marshalls, appealed from a judgment in favor of his former employer and certain affiliated entities.  Marshalls filed a demurrer arguing that because LaCour’s employment with Marshalls ended in May 2019, he had only … Continue Reading

Disability Leave Is Not “Compensation” Under California Workers’ Compensation Law

California Dep’t of Corr. & Rehab. v. WCAB, 2023 WL 5198517 (Cal. Ct. App. 2023) Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, if a worker is injured because of the employer’s serious and willful misconduct, the “compensation” the worker is entitled to receive increases by one half.  The statute defining “compensation” limits the term to benefits or … Continue Reading

Non-Party Plaintiffs With Overlapping PAGA Claims May Be Able To “Permissibly Intervene” In Related Actions

Accurso v. In-N-Out Burgers, 2023 WL 5543525 (Cal. Ct. App. 2023) Plaintiffs Tom Piplack and Brianna Marie Taylor filed PAGA actions in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, respectively, against respondent In-N-Out Burgers (In-N-Out).  When they learned about settlement negotiations in a later, overlapping PAGA action brought by Ryan Accurso against In-N-Out in Sonoma County, Piplack … Continue Reading

PAGA Plaintiffs May Maintain Representative Claims In Court After Individual Claims Are Compelled To Arbitration

Adolph v. Uber Techs., Inc., 14 Cal. 5th 1104 (2023) After months of anticipation, the California Supreme Court answered “yes” to the critical question of whether “aggrieved” PAGA plaintiffs retain their standing to pursue representative claims in court after their individual claims have been compelled to arbitration. Erik Adolph worked as a driver for Uber, … Continue Reading

School District Employer Did Not Violate The Law By Requiring COVID Vaccination/Weekly Testing

Rossi v. Sequoia Union Elementary Sch., 2023 WL 5498732 (Cal. Ct. App. 2023) Pursuant to the State Public Health Officer Order of August 11, 2021, K-12 schools were required to verify the COVID-19 vaccination status of all school workers and to require proof of vaccination or weekly diagnostic screen testing.  Plaintiff Gloria Elizabeth Rossi, an … Continue Reading
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