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California Workplace Law Blog

Los Angeles Minimum Wage Increase for Hotel Workers May Have Far Reaching Implications

On December 16, 2014, the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association filed suit in federal court seeking to enjoin the City of Los Angeles from implementing the new Hotel Workers Act, which would put in place one of the nation’s highest minimum wages, targeted specifically to hotel workers in the largest hotels. The Act raises the hourly minimum wage for large-hotel workers in Los Angeles to $15.37. Hotels with more than 300 rooms would need to comply beginning July 2015, while hotels with at least 150 rooms will have another year to comply. Continue Reading

Rescheduled Event: Tomorrow and 1/6 in San Francisco

California Workplace Law Breakfast Series
Fall/Winter Session: California Workplace Law Update

In this session, our   speakers will address the legislative and case law developments from 2014 and   what you need to know in order to prepare for 2015. Private and public sector   corporate decision-makers with employee relations responsibilities – HR executives   and professionals, in-house counsel, chief executive officers and financial   executives – are all welcome to attend and discuss issues specific to their   needs and concerns.

Registration:  8:30 a.m. to 9:00   a.m.

Seminar: 9:00   a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Tuesday, December 16   or Tuesday January 6: San Francisco

Offices   of Jackson Lewis P.C.

50 California Street, 9th Floor

San Francisco, CA 94111
Contact: Rachel   De Dora  | SFrsvp@jacksonlewis.com | (415) 394-9400



Credit   Information

Each program is pending approval of 2.50 recertification credit hours toward   PHR and SPHR recertification through the Human Resource Certification   Institute (HRCI). Each program is eligible for 2.50 credit hours of   California (general) MCLE credit.


San Francisco Enacts So-Called “Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights”

San Francisco has enacted an ordinance designed to require large retail chains to provide more predictability to their workers.  The ordinance, entitled the “Predictable Scheduling and Fair Treatment for Formula Retail Employees Ordinance,” will become operative on July 5, 2015.  You can access a copy of the ordinance here: San Francisco Ordinance-Amended-111814.

The ordinance will apply to retail sales establishments that have 20 or more employees in San Francisco, have 20 or more establishments worldwide, and maintain two or more of the following features: a standardized array of merchandise, a standardized façade, a standardized décor and color scheme, uniform apparel, standardized signage, or a trademark or servicemark. Continue Reading

Security Screening Time Need Not Be Paid, SCOTUS Rules – Expect California Law to Differ

Waiting to go through a security screening and then being screened is not compensable time under federal wage-hour law, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a case issued today (December 9).  But don’t expect California courts to interpret California law in the same way.

In an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, the Court unanimously ruled that when hourly employees waited for and then went through an antitheft security screen at Amazon.com warehouses, they were engaged in “noncompensable postliminary activities” under the federal Portal-to Portal Act because the screenings “were not the ‘principal activity or activities which [the] employee is employed to perform.’”   The ruling reversed a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Continue Reading

Not All Supervisor Misconduct Violates Public Policy Sufficiently to Support Whistleblowing Claims

On December 1, 2014, in Ferrick v. Santa Clara University (H040252), the California Court of Appeal rejected a university employee’s attempt to support her wrongful termination claim with allegations of embezzlement, tax evasion, or other alleged improprieties in public financing and real estate deals.  However, the employee successfully stated a claim for wrongful termination based on her allegation that a supervisor accepted kickbacks for placing university tenants with a private landlord, which provided a reasonable basis for the employee to suspect commercial bribery under Penal Code section 641.3. Continue Reading

Minimum Salary Rate Increases for California Computer Software Professional Exemption Announced

The required compensation levels for employees exempt from overtime rate of pay requirements under the California computer software professional exemption will increase by 2.2 percent from current levels beginning January 1, 2015, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has announced.

This means that the minimum hourly rate of pay necessary to qualify for the exemption will increase from $40.38 to $41.27; the minimum monthly salary will increase from $7,010.88 to $7,165.12; and the minimum annual salary will increase from $84,130.53 to $85,981.40.  Employers are reminded that in addition to the salary requirement, California employees also must meet a stringent duties test to qualify for the exemption.

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to answer questions about this and other exemptions available under federal and California laws and assist in assessing whether employees are correctly classified as exempt or non-exempt for overtime purposes.

© 2014 Jackson Lewis P.C. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis.

This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Jackson Lewis P.C. represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Our attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. For more information, please contact the attorney(s) listed or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

California Labor Commissioner Addresses State Paid Sick Leave Requirements

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement’s website has been updated to include Frequently Asked Questions on California’s new Paid Sick Leave law, as well as a revised Wage Theft Prevention Act Notice and workplace poster. Both the Wage Theft Prevention Act Notice and workplace poster are effective January 1, 2015, even though the entitlement to accrue and take paid sick leave does not begin until July 1, 2015. Employers have the option of providing either the updated or current Notice to employees hired before January 1st.  Links to the FAQs, notice and poster can be found on the DLSE’s website’s “What’s New” section at the bottom of its home page. Here’s a link to the home page:  http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/dlse.html.

Have more questions about the law or its implementation? Contact Cindy Filla in the Los Angeles office, Jon Siegel in the Orange County office or Jamerson “Jamie” Allen in the San Francisco office.

Newspaper Carriers were Employees, Despite Independent Contractor Agreement, California Court Rules

A newspaper misclassified its newspaper carriers as independent contractors, the Superior Court for the County of Sacramento has ruled following a trial in a class action for employees’ unpaid mileage expenses under Section 2802 of the California Labor Code. Sawin v. The McClatchy Co., No. 34-2009-00033950 (Cal. Super. Ct. Sept. 22, 2014). Although the newspaper carriers signed agreements stating they were independent contractors, set their own schedules and routes, and could hire their own workers, the Court found the newspaper exercised such significant control over the newspaper carriers’ performance of their duties that it “belie[d] the contrary pronouncement in the form contracts….”


Lorianne Sawin and others worked as newspaper carriers for The McClatchy Company, d/b/a The Sacramento Bee (the “Bee”). The carriers signed agreements with the Bee that stated they were independent contractors. The Bee could terminate the agreement upon 30 days’ notice or at any time for a material breach. The carriers also had the right to terminate the agreement.  Continue Reading

California Appellate Court Holds that Federal Law Does Not Preempt California’s Meal and Rest Break Requirements for Truck Drivers

On October 28, 2014, a California Court of Appeal held that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (“FAAAA”) does not preempt California’s meal and rest break requirements as applied to motor carriers.  [Godfrey v. Oakland Port Services Corp. (Cal. App. Ct. Oct. 28, 2014) Case No. A139274.]

In Godfrey, the plaintiffs were truck drivers who were predominantly assigned routes between the Port of Oakland and customer sites within the San Francisco Bay Area.  In September 2010, the truck drivers filed a class action complaint against their employer alleging various violations of California’s wage and hour laws.  After a bench trial, the truck drivers obtained a $964,557.08 judgment on the grounds that, inter alia, their employer failed to provide meal and rest breaks.  The employer appealed and primarily argued that the FAAAA preempts California’s meal and rest break requirements.

By way of background, the FAAAA preempts all state laws “related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier.”  [49 U.S.C. § 14501(c)(2)-(3).]  On appeal, the employer argued that the FAAAA preempts California’s meal and rest break requirements because the state laws: 1) force drivers to deviate from their routes; 2) affect the number of deliveries a driver can make in a day; and 3) reduce a driver’s work time, thereby increasing the cost of a given set of deliveries.  Nevertheless, the court of appeal rejected all three of these arguments.  In short, the appellate court ruled that California meal and rest break laws are not related to prices, routes, or services because they do not set prices, mandate or prohibit certain routes, or tell motor carriers what services they may or may not provide, either directly or indirectly.   Ultimately, the court of appeal affirmed the judgment in its entirety.

The practical takeaway of Godfrey is simple: California companies who employ motor carriers should continue to comply with California’s wage and hour laws.

Oakland, California, Passes Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave, Hospitality Service Charges Measure

A City of Oakland ballot measure increasing the minimum wage for most employees, requiring paid sick leave and mandating payment of employer-levied service charges to employees has passed with over 80 percent of the vote. Measure FF’s provisions raising the minimum wage and requiring paid sick leave will go into effect March 2, 2015; the provision tendering payment of service charges takes effect 10 days after the Oakland City Council formally declares the election results. 

Minimum Wage Increase

Employees working at least two hours per week within the City of Oakland must be paid at least $12.25 an hour for all such work beginning March 2, 2015. Each January 1 thereafter, the required minimum wage will be adjusted for inflation.  Continue Reading