California’s drive toward a 15-dollar minimum wage for all employers continues. Effective January 1, 2022, the minimum wage for employers with 25 employees or less will increase to $14.00 per hour, and for employers with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage will increase to $15.00 per hour. Employers must remember this increase also affects
Mitchell F. Boomer
Ask A Litigator: What Can Be Included in a Settlement Agreement?
An effective settlement agreement memorializes the resolution of a dispute between a claimant-employee and a business, provides the parties with a clear path forward, and creates peace of mind. A poorly-drafted settlement agreement, on the other hand, can create further conflict and problems.
This is what litigators would like employers to understand about effective settlement…
Elections, Political Protests, and the Workplace
As campaign season heats up and political protests continue on top of an already stressed workforce, most employers seek to maintain a harmonious work environment. While perhaps tempting to regulate employee behavior to keep politics out of the workplace, employers should tread carefully.
Under California’s discrimination laws, political affiliation is not a protected classification. On…
No Class Action for Residential Care Facility Employees Over On-Duty Meal Periods
Denying class certification in an action for alleged meal period violations under the California Labor Code and Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 5-2001 (“Wage Order 5”), the California Court of Appeal ruled that a 24-hour residential care facility for developmentally disabled individuals did not have a policy that violated wage and hour laws common to the class members. Palacio v. Jan & Gail’s Care Homes, Inc. Specifically, the Court ruled that the residential care facility did not need to inform employees whom it required to waive their right to uninterrupted meal periods and eat their meals with the residents under Section 11(E) of Wage Order 5, that the employees could revoke the waiver at any time under Section 11(A).
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Employer to Pay for Emotional Distress Triggered by Random Workplace Drug Testing
This week, in Aro v. Legal Recovery Law Offices, Inc., California Court of Appeal affirmed an intentional infliction of emotional distress award in favor of two employees who were pressured into taking a random, “on-demand” drug test.
Prior to the drug test at issue, the employer provided employees a revised 2011 employee manual stating, in pertinent part, that the Company reserves the right to test employees for the use of illegal drugs or alcohol where an employee’s job carriers a risk of injury or accident, or after an accident or probable cause. The Plaintiffs were provided the revised handbook containing the drug test policy by e-mail. However, when they asked what changes were made to the handbook, management advised that they should read it and “figure it out” themselves.
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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.
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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…
Professor’s Refusal to Undergo Fitness-for-Duty Exam Warranted Termination, California Court Rules
A university properly terminated a professor for failing to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination after he had engaged in instances of threatening behavior, the California Court of Appeal has ruled, affirming a judgment in favor of the University of San Francisco on a professor’s alleged disability discrimination claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). Kao v. University of San Francisco, No. A135750 (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 2, 2014). Significantly, the Court ruled the University was not required to engage in an “interactive process” before requesting the examination because the professor never sought any accommodation for any disability.
John S. Kao was a mathematics professor at the University of San Francisco from 1991 to 2009. Beginning in 2008, Kao engaged in a series of confrontations with co-workers during which he often appeared enraged and threatening. Consequently, his co-workers became concerned for their physical safety. The University investigated, consulting with experts in threat assessment and workplace violence.
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Deputy Sheriff Protected by Whistleblower Retaliation Law, California Court of Appeal Rules
The California Labor Code’s Section 1102.5(b) whistleblower protections are not limited to the first employee reporting alleged misconduct, the California Court of Appeal has ruled, affirming a judgment in favor of a deputy sheriff on his whistleblower retaliation claim. Hager v. County of Los Angeles, No. B238277 (Cal. Ct. App. Aug. 19, 2014).
Federal Law Does Not Preempt State Unfair Competition Claim, California Supreme Court Rules
A lawsuit against a trucking company for allegedly misclassifying drivers as independent contractors under California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) was not preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (“FAAAA”), the California Supreme Court has ruled unanimously. P. ex rel. Harris v. Pac Anchor Transp., Inc., No. S194388 (Cal. July 28, 2014). The Court found the lawsuit did not relate to the company’s “price, route or service,” the concerns of the federal law. Therefore, the Court allowed the State of California’s lawsuit for unfair competition arising from the company’s alleged violations of California’s labor and insurance laws to proceed.
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