In Jones v. Farmers Ins. Exchange (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 986 (“Jones”), the California Court of Appeal held that “[t]he lack of an adequate class representative … does not justify the denial of the certification motion.  Instead, the trial court must allow Plaintiff[[] an opportunity to amend [his] complaint to name a suitable class representative. 

We previously reported on Governor Brown’s 2016/2017 budget change proposal as something employers should monitor.[1]  The proposal included increased funding for the Labor & Workforce Development Agency (“LWDA”), the agency responsible for overseeing the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”).  The budget proposal also contained recommendations for widespread changes to the way PAGA

The budget change proposal for the 2016/17 Fiscal Year [document: <http://web1a.esd.dof.ca.gov/Documents/bcp/1617/FY1617_ORG7350_BCP474.pdf>] submitted by Governor Brown last month contains significant proposed changes to the operation of the Labor & Workforce Development Agency (“LWDA”), the agency responsible for overseeing the Private Attorney Generals Act of 2004 (“PAGA”)   including the creation of a “PAGA Unit” with the authority to intervene and object to the adequacy of the settlement funds designated to PAGA claims. The budget requests a $1.6 million increase to the operation budget to cover additional staffing needs for the agency and an additional $1.5 million going forward to “stabilize and improve the handling of PAGA cases.”  The budget proposal justifies the request for additional resources to increase the LWDA’s effectiveness.
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Employers doing business in California have seen a barrage of class actions and representative claims for various alleged wage and hour Labor Code violations. Some cases are premised solely on “technical” wage statement violations, where the employer may not have even realized the practice was occurring or was unlawful.
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On July 16, 2015, AB 987 was signed into law by the Governor Jerry Brown which provides a paradigm shift in favor of employees with respect to their retaliation claims. The new law overturns the retaliation holding in Rope v. Auto-Chlor System of Washington, Inc. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 635, and makes it unlawful for an employer to retaliate or otherwise discriminate against a person for “requesting” an accommodation based on religion or disability. 
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A new case from the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Two, Ruiz v. Moss Bros. Auto Group, Inc., was certified for publication on December 23, 2014, and addresses an area of interest for many employers – electronic signatures on arbitration agreements. Employers must build safeguards into such systems  to be able to prove the employee electronically signed the document. To view the Court’s opinion, click here.

In the Ruiz case, an employer filed a petition to compel arbitration of the employment-related claims.  The trial court denied the petition on the ground that the employer failed to meet its burden of proving the parties had an agreement to arbitrate the controversy. The employer could not establish to the court’s satisfaction that the employee signed the agreement.  (Code Civ. Proc., § 1281.2.)  
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On December 29, 2014, Governor Edmond G. Brown announced the appointments of Kevin Kish as the new Director and Joan Keegan as the new Chief Deputy Director for the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).  To view the original press release, click here.

Kish, 38, a Yale Law School grad and adjunct professor of law at Loyola Law School, has an active background in advocating for workers’ rights.  Kish has been the director of the Employment Rights Project at Bet Tzedek Legal Services since 2008.  Kish has taken a special interest in attempting to limit retaliation experienced by low-wage workers who file claims against their employers.
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