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California Workplace Law Blog

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

Don’t Forget to Sign Up for the California Workplace Law Breakfast Series 2014 (Multiple Sessions/Locations Available)

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.

Thursday, December 4, 2014: Ontario

Radisson Ontario Airport
2200 E. Holt Boulevard
Ontario, CA 91761
ContactLArsvp@jacksonlewis.com | (213) 689-0404

Tuesday, December 9, 2014: Los Angeles and Sacramento

Courtyard Los Angeles L.A. LIVE
901 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Contact: LArsvp@jacksonlewis.com | (213) 689-0404

Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel
1230 J Street
Gardenia Room, Lower Atrium
Sacramento, CA  95814
Contact: SACrsvp@jacksonlewis.com | (916) 341-0404

Thursday, December 11: Orange County and San Francisco

Hilton Anaheim
777 Convention Way
Anaheim, CA 92802
Contact: OCrsvp@jacksonlewis.com | (949) 988-5618

Offices of Jackson Lewis P.C.
50 California Street, 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
Contact: SFrsvp@jacksonlewis.com | (415) 394-9400

Wednesday, January 21, 2015: San Diego

Westin San Diego
400 West Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
Contact: SDrsvp@jacksonlewis.com | (213) 689-0404



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.

Precluding Plaintiffs in Separate Lawsuits from Observing One Another’s Depositions: An Uphill Battle

A recent discovery order from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California suggests that employers seeking to prevent plaintiffs with related lawsuits (i.e., separate lawsuits, but arising from the same circumstances) from sitting in on one another’s depositions, or reading one another’s deposition transcripts, will need to provide a “particular and specific” basis for doing so.

Continue Reading

Silicon Valley Compliance Collaboratory Series Event Invitation: When Customers Demand Drug Tests and Criminal Background Checks of Your Employees – What You Need to Know

Co-hosted by Juniper Networks and Jackson Lewis P.C., the Collaboratory Series offers interactive workshops designed to highlight “real life” compliance issues and solutions for employers. In this session, we will discuss how to respond when customers demand that you drug test employees and conduct criminal background checks before assigning employees to service that customer, including:

  • Is it legal to conduct such drug tests and background checks?
  • Which laws apply?
  • Who should conduct the drug tests and background checks, and what are the legal and appropriate procedures to follow when conducting drug tests and background checks?
  • Who should receive the results?
  • What if the customer demands to see the results?
  • What are the consequences for employees who fail the drug tests or whose background checks reveal criminal convictions?

In addition, we will discuss federal contractors’ obligations to comply with the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act, and whether that means that contractors must ignore state medical marijuana laws, given that marijuana is illegal under federal law, and in some cases, federal and state marijuana laws conflict. Finally, we will address the disability-related legal issues that arise when employees volunteer that they have substance abuse problems and need help.

Date/Time: Thursday, December 4, 2014
Registration   and breakfast: 8:30 a.m.
Program: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Registration   and breakfast: 8:15 a.m.
Program: 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.


Location: Juniper Networks Global Headquarters (December 4)
1133 Innovation Way, Building A
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Click   here to register

Jackson Lewis P.C. (December 3)
50 California Street, 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94109
Click here to register


Fee: Complimentary


Credits: Pending approval of 2.5 HRCI recertification credit hours (Sunnyvale) and 1.5 hours (San Francisco) toward PHR and SPHR recertification through the Human  Resource Certification Institute in addition to California CLE credit.

Jackson Lewis’ California Offices Earn Top Rankings From U.S. News and Best Lawyers

WHITE PLAINS, NY (November 3, 2014) — Jackson Lewis P.C., one of the largest workplace law firms in the world representing management, is pleased to announce  the firm has again been recognized for excellence and ranked in the First Tier nationally in Employment Law – Management; Labor Law – Management; and Litigation – Labor & Employment in the U.S. News — Best Lawyers® 2015 “Best Law Firms” report.  In addition, 70% of the firm’s regional locations were recognized for excellence in Tiers 1 and 2 of the Metropolitan Rankings in various labor and employment categories. Among them were Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco.

Jackson Lewis’ “Best Law Firms” rankings follow the August release of 2015 Best Lawyers in America, in which 119 Jackson Lewis attorneys were recognized. Inclusion on both lists is determined by receiving consistently impressive ratings by clients and peers.  Achieving a ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

“We are honored to once again be recognized as a Top Tier firm by such a prestigious publication,” said Firm Chairman Vincent A. Cino. “It is especially meaningful to be recognized by our clients, given our continued efforts at every level to meet and exceed their needs on a daily basis.  This award is a testament to the abundance of talented attorneys we have in our firm, and I thank them for their dedication to providing the absolute best in labor and employment representation.”

More information on Jackson Lewis’ “Best Law Firms” presence can be found here.


About Jackson Lewis

Founded in 1958, Jackson Lewis is dedicated to representing management exclusively in workplace law. With over 780 attorneys practicing in 55 locations throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, Jackson Lewis is included in the AmLaw 100 and Global 100 rankings of law firms. U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” named Jackson Lewis the 2014 “Law Firm of the Year” in the Litigation-Labor and Employment category. The firm was also named a Tier 1 National “Best Law Firm” in Employment Law – Management; Labor Law – Management; and Litigation – Labor & Employment, and earned a spot on the BTI Power Elite for being recognized by corporate counsel as one of the top law firms in building and maintaining client relationships. The firm’s wide range of specialized areas of practice provides the resources to address every aspect of the employer/employee relationship. Jackson Lewis has one of the most active employment litigation practices in the United States, with a current caseload of over 6,500 litigations and approximately 550 class actions.

Jackson Lewis is a founding member of L&E Global Employers’ Counsel Worldwide, an alliance of premier employment law boutique firms and practices in Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific Region.

For more information about Jackson Lewis, please contact:

Lara Hamm, Jackson Lewis

T: (703) 483-8373

E: HammL@jacksonlewis.com

When a Workers’ Compensation Injury Occurs, Employers Should Discuss Possible Accommodations With Employee

Both California and federal disability laws require employers to engage in an “interactive process” discussion with employees who have disabilities about potential accommodations. Employees who are unable to work because of an occupational injury may be considered disabled because “working” is a major life activity under California law.  Many employers are used to having the workers’ compensation adjustor handle all communications with an employee who is on a leave of absence because of an occupational injury. However, employers should initiate the interactive process with the employee to determine if the employee believes there are any accommodations other than leave that would enable the employee to return to work. Although an employer does not have to provide accommodations that are unreasonable or pose an undue hardship, the employer should get the discussion going so that employees have an opportunity to discuss any ideas they have.

The Commission on Health and Safety and Worker’s Compensation has published a practical guide for employers about their obligations when a workers’ compensation injury occurs. The Guide is available at the Commissions website at http://www.dir.ca.gov/chswc/.

ALERT: Podcast on Ebola in the Workplace

Everywhere you turn, Ebola is in the news.  Employers with concerns about the potential workplace implications of Ebola should listen to our complimentary podcast discussing legal and practical issues relating to the virus, including:

  • Steps  to take to ensure OSHA and state workplace health and safety laws are satisfied;
  • Legal compliance challenges that may arise when dealing with employees who are  exposed or may have been exposed to Ebola; and
  • Privacy and medical confidentiality obligations to consider when responding to Ebola concerns in the workplace.

To access the podcast, please click here.

PAGA Waivers may be Enforceable in Federal Courts

In the June 2014 Iskanian decision, the California Supreme Court carved out an exception to the general rule that class action waivers in arbitration agreements are valid, and concluded that the right to bring representative Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”) claims cannot be waived through arbitration agreements. PAGA allows individual workers to pursue Labor Code violations against employers in a representative action on behalf of government authorities. Continue Reading