In Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., No. S196568 (Cal. June 26, 2014), the California Supreme Court has ruled that federal immigration law did not preempt California law extending employee protections and remedies “regardless of immigration status,” except to the extent it authorized damages for any period after the employer’s discovery of an employee’s ineligibility

A clause delegating to an arbitrator the authority to decide questions of an arbitration agreement’s enforceability was not unconscionable under California law, the California Court of Appeal has ruled. Malone v. Superior Court, No. B253891 (Cal. Ct. App. June 17, 2014). The Court affirmed an order enforcing the delegation clause and compelling arbitration. Significantly,

Be cautious with the employee who “doth protest too much.”  The law protects whistleblowers. Employers must be careful to avoid retaliating against employees who report good faith concerns, even when such concerns prove meritless. But this does not leave employees free to blackmail employers by threatening to makes claims unless the employer capitulates to settlement demands. In Stenehjem v. Sareen, a California Court of Appeal allowed an employer to pursue a counter-claim for extortion where its employee allegedly sent an email threatening to report it to the U.S. Attorney and file a federal False Claims Act action unless it settled the employee’s defamation lawsuit. The Court also rejected the employee’s claim that his threat constituted protected speech under California’s anti-SLAPP statute. While Stenehjem presents a welcome development for California employers, its core allegations do not arise often. Employers should thus review situations closely with counsel before leaping to the conclusion that an employee’s “threat” to report concerns amounts to extortion.  
Continue Reading Protected Speech Does Not Include Extortion, California Appellate Court Rules

No employer welcomes the news that it’s just been served with a wage and hour class action. Many employers naturally desire to communicate with their employees to provide their perspective and to explain why employees may not want to participate in the class action. Before launching such employee communications, however, companies should always consult with

PuppyIn a welcome common sense decision, the California Court of Appeal in Serri v. Santa Clara University affirmed summary judgment granted to Santa Clara University against its former Director of Affirmative Action.

Why? Because as the University’s Director of Affirmative Action, she failed to file the University’s Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) for three years in

An employer that petitioned to compel arbitration one year after the employee filed his employment-related complaint did not waive its right to arbitrate the complaint, the California Court of Appeal has ruled, confirming the burden of proving a party waived its right to arbitration is a heavy one. Gloster v. Sonic Automotive, Inc., No.

A trial court lacked authority to rule on the enforceability of an arbitration agreement when the parties had contracted to delegate questions about the agreement’s enforceability to the arbitrator, the California Court of Appeal has ruled, reversing the denial of arbitration in a wrongful discharge action. Tiri v. Lucky Chances, Inc., No. A136675 (Cal.

Ambiguity in settlement agreements can sabotage finality and certainty as a recent California decision shows. Where a settlement agreement is silent regarding litigation costs, an employee may obtain mandatory costs as the prevailing party under state law as the settlement proceeds constituted the required “net monetary recovery,” the California Court of Appeal has ruled. DeSaulles

Finding an intern had produced sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude his supervisor engaged in a pervasive pattern of harassing conduct “because of sex,” including numerous gifts, frequent lunch purchases, along with sexual jokes and displays of pornographic computer images, the California Court of Appeal has allowed his harassment suit to proceed, reversing

Timing is not everything. In Rope v. Auto-Chlor of Washington System of Washington, Inc., the employer fired an employee for purported performance reasons on December 30, 2010 – two days before California’s Michelle Malkin Donor Protection Act became effective.   The timing was significant because when the employee was hired in October of 2010, he