California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: California Labor & Employment Law

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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

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

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

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

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

Industry and Labor Serve Up $20 Minimum Wage Deal For Fast Food Workers

A two-year standoff between the fast food industry and labor unions ended this week as stakeholders announced a deal that will increase the minimum wage to $20 for California workers at fast food chains with more than 60 locations nationwide. As we previously reported, in September 2022, California passed A.B. 257, which created a 10-member … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Broadly Construes Exemption to Federal Arbitration Act

The Ninth Circuit recently issued an opinion that signals some movement in the direction away from enforcing employment-related arbitration agreements. In Miller v. Amazon.com, Case No. 2:21-cv-00204-BJR, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying Amazon’s motion to compel arbitration in a case brought by Amazon Flex delivery drivers who made last-leg deliveries of … Continue Reading

California Expands Prohibition Against Non-Competes

On September 1, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 699, which amends California Business & Professions Code Section 16600 to prohibit an employer from entering into or attempting to enforce a non-compete agreement regardless of whether the contract was signed outside of California.  The law goes into effect on January 1, 2024. Previously, … Continue Reading

California Expands FEHA Liability to Include “Institutional Agents” of Employers

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is already one of the most employee-friendly state civil rights laws in the country. Until now, it was not clear whether employees could sue not only their direct employers for discrimination and harassment, but also other independent businesses that work on behalf on their employers. In Raines v. … Continue Reading

Put it in Writing: Los Angeles Imposes New Requirements on Employers of Independent Contractors

As readers may know, the Los Angeles Freelance Worker Protections Ordinance took effect on July 1, 2023.  The new law imposes additional requirements on businesses in the City of Los Angeles who have contracts with freelance workers.  Perhaps most notably, for any contract between a hiring entity and a freelance worker valued at $600 or … Continue Reading

Organizations May Sue Employers Based On Time Spent Opposing Unfair Competition

Under the unfair competition law (UCL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq., a plaintiff may bring a cause of action for any “unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice.” Generally, a UCL claim will be brought as a violation of rules set out in other laws or may be brought for … Continue Reading

SCOTUS Provides Further Support For Staying PAGA Court Actions Pending Arbitration

With Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc. in the books, it is now clear that Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) plaintiffs do not lose standing to pursue representative claims in court when their individual PAGA claims are sent to arbitration.  In Adolph’s wake, disputes may arise regarding whether the representative court action should be stayed pending … Continue Reading

July 2023 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted July 2023 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Enforcement of PAGA Carve Out Suggests Need For New Revisions To Arbitration Agreements PAGA Debt Not Dischargeable in Bankruptcy Distributors Not Liable For Unpaid Wages Of … Continue Reading

Enforcement of PAGA Carve Out Suggests Need For New Revisions To Arbitration Agreements

Duran v. EmployBridge Holding Co., 92 Cal. App. 5th 59 (2023) In 2014, the California Supreme Court determined that Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) claims are immune from arbitration in Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC – which, unsurprisingly, led to an avalanche of PAGA claims being filed as plaintiffs’ lawyers scrambled to make their cases … Continue Reading

PAGA Debt Not Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

In re Patacsil, 2023 WL 3964908 (Bankr. E.D. Cal. June 9, 2023) The Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) permits aggrieved employees to file representative action to recover civil penalties for Labor Code violations.  The law allocates 75% of any recovery to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) for “enforcement of labor laws” and “education … Continue Reading

Exemption of Financial Professionals From ABC Test And Retroactive Application Are Constitutional

Quinn v. LPL Fin. LLC, 91 Cal. App. 5th 370 (2023) Alleging misclassification, John Quinn brought a PAGA action on behalf of a class consisting of securities broker-dealers and investment advisers against his employer LPL Financial.  Quinn brought the PAGA action prior to the enactment of AB 2257, which exempted the occupations identified in Quinn’s PAGA … Continue Reading

No Final Paycheck Due After End Of Temporary Assignment

Young v. RemX Specialty Staffing, 91 Cal. App. 5th 427 (2023) Vanessa Young worked as an employee of staffing company RemX Specialty Staffing and was temporarily assigned to work at Bank of the West.  Young allegedly “verbally abused” a RemX representative on a call about delivery of her paycheck.  Young claimed that the RemX representative “basically” … Continue Reading

No Implied Waiver Of Disqualification Of Judge For Bias Or Appearance Of Impartiality After One Year

North Am. Title Co. v. Superior Court, 91 Cal. App. 5th 948 (2023) During oral argument on a motion, the trial judge accused the employer-defendants of participating in a “name change shell game,” a “corporate game of three-card monte” and “trickery” and “scheming” to evade payment of a $43.5 million judgment to plaintiffs in this wage-and-hour … Continue Reading

Statute Prohibits Employer Retaliation For Report Of Unlawful Activity Even If It’s Already Known To Employer

People ex rel. Garcia-Brower v. Kolla’s, Inc., 14 Cal. 5th 719 (2023) The California Supreme Court has held that an employee who makes a whistleblower complaint to his or her employer may bring a retaliation claim under the whistleblower statute (Cal. Lab. Code § 1102.5(b)) even if the subject of the complaint was already known to … Continue Reading

Employee Who Refused To Get Flu Vaccine Was Properly Terminated

Hodges v. Cedars-Sinai Med. Ctr., 91 Cal. App. 5th 894 (2023) Deanna Hodges, who worked for Cedars-Sinai as an administrative employee with no patient responsibilities, refused to get vaccinated for the flu, contrary to Cedars’ policy which required all of its employees to get vaccinated in an effort to limit employee transmission of the flu.  The … Continue Reading

Court Recognizes “Music As Harassment” While Rejecting “Equal Opportunity Harasser” Defense

Sharp v. S&S Activewear, LLC, 69 F.4th 974 (9th Cir. 2023) Fed up with hearing “very offensive” songs like Eminem’s “Stan” and Too $hort’s “B*job Betty” on the job, Stephanie Sharp and several other employees (including one male) filed a hostile work environment claim against their employer under Title VII.  Plaintiffs claimed they could not escape … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Clarifies Employers’ Expense Reimbursement Obligations for Pandemic-Related Remote Work

California Labor Code section 2802 (“Section 2802”) requires employers to reimburse employees for “all necessary expenditures or losses” they incur as a “direct consequence of the discharge of … [their] duties, or … [their] obedience to the directions of the employer.”  So, in March 2020, when Governor Newsom issued a broad stay-at-home order requiring all … Continue Reading

West Hollywood Wins The Gold Medal For Highest Minimum Wage In The Nation — $19.08!

The so-called “Fight for 15” – those widespread protests for a $15 minimum wage – are so passé now! As of July 1, 2023, West Hollywood takes the crown for the highest mandated minimum wage in the United States at $19.08.  Why they didn’t just top it off at $20 is anyone’s guess.  (Not to … Continue Reading

Crisis Averted: California Employers Are Not Liable for “Take-Home” COVID Cases.

Last week, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that employers are not liable to nonemployees who contract COVID-19 from employee household members that bring the virus home from their workplace, because “[a]n employer does not owe a duty of care under California law to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to employees’ household members.”  Kuciemba v. … Continue Reading
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