Overturning a trial court ruling, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held that teacher tenure laws are constitutional in the case of Vergara v. State of California, decided April 14, 2016.

The case involves nine public school students who challenged several provisions of California’s Education Code that govern K-12 public school teachers’ employment. The basis of the challenge is that the tenure, dismissal, and layoff laws result in grossly ineffective teachers being transferred to lower-performing schools with predominantly minority and low-income populations, rather than being terminated; and that; therefore, those students receive an inferior education.  Several associations representing school boards, school superintendents, and school administrators filed amicus briefs in support of the students’ position that the laws are unconstitutional.
Continue Reading California Teacher Tenure Laws Upheld by Appellate Court

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 in favor of a proposed ordinance that would permit Los Angeles workers to earn at least six paid sick leave days annually. The new paid sick leave entitlement would double the mandatory minimum under California’s statewide paid sick leave law.

The proposed ordinance, which still needs to be drafted by the City Attorney’s Office before final approval, would take effect July 1, 2016. Businesses with 25 employees or fewer would have an additional year to comply with the new requirement.

In general, an employee would be entitled to the paid sick leave if, on or after July 1, 2016, the employee works in the City of Los Angeles for the same employer for 30 days or more within a year.  
Continue Reading Los Angeles City Council Votes to Expand Paid Sick Leave

An employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee who makes a complaint to a government or law enforcement agency under California law.

Labor Code section 1102.5(b), for example, makes it unlawful for a hospital to terminate a nurse because the nurse complained about a doctor to the Medical Board. It also would be unlawful for an airline to terminate a pilot who reported potential violations of regulations to the Federal Aviation Administration. These are classic “whistleblower” situations, where an employee complains about the conduct of his or her employer.  However, a recent case, Cardenas v. M. Fanaian, DDS, Inc., has held that the reach of section 1102.5(b) is not so limited, but applies to matters unrelated to the employer’s compliance with law in operating its business, such as employee reports to law enforcement involving personal matters.
Continue Reading “Whistleblower” Retaliation Applies to Private Matters Unrelated to the Whistleblower’s Employment

On October 5, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill confirming that employees in the health care industry can waive one of their two meal periods when working a shift of over eight hours in a workday. This law clarifies confusion caused by a recently decided appellate case, Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, 234 Cal.App.4th 285 (C.A. 4th, 2015) (review granted). The Gerard case is currently under review by the California Supreme Court.
Continue Reading Health Care Workers Allowed to Waive Meal Period

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

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

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 PAGA Waivers may be Enforceable in Federal Courts