In November 2017, the California Labor Commissioner’s office, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”), published updated guidance on employer provided paid 10-minute rest breaks.  Specifically, the DLSE maintains that employees must be relieved of all duty during rest breaks, and now has taken the position that employees must be permitted to travel off-site during their

Last week, in Thomsen v. Georgia-Pacific Corrugated, LLC, a federal district court in California held that an employer might have violated its obligations under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) when it simply told an employee to return to his doctor to obtain a note outlining additional work restrictions.   The Court held that a reasonable jury could find that the employer was obligated to do more than tell the Plaintiff to go back to his physician and get a new doctor’s note, especially because evidence suggested it would have been possible to respond to some of Plaintiff’s concerns without a new doctor’s note.

The Facts

Plaintiff worked as a cut-and-die operator at a corrugated container plant. In May 2012, Plaintiff injured his shoulder at work, went on workers’ compensation leave, and returned to work eight months later after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder.
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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.

The facts

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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A divided Ninth Circuit court ruled this week that California’s protections against contracts restraining employment were not explicitly limited to non-compete agreements.  Rather, the law can apply to any type of employment agreement, including settlement agreements.

In Donald Golden v. California Emergency Physicians Medical Group et al., case number 12-16514, the employer and employee entered into a proposed settlement agreement.  The no-employment provision in the settlement agreement states that the employee will not continue to be employed at any of the employer’s current facilities, or at any other facility with which the employer may contract in the future.  The employee appealed and sought to “un-do” the settlement agreement based on this clause.
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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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