California Court of Appeal

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

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).
Continue Reading No Class Action for Residential Care Facility Employees Over On-Duty Meal Periods

The California Court of Appeal ruled that an automobile dealership that translated a sales contract into Spanish, but neglected to include the arbitration clause in the translated agreement, could not enforce the arbitration agreement. Ramos v. Westlake Services, LLC, A141353. Although the case involved a commercial transaction, it has important implications for employers who use arbitration agreements with employees whose primary language is other than English.
Continue Reading Inaccurate Translation Invalidates Arbitration Agreement

Employers’ risk of liability for the misclassification of workers continues to grow, as employee misclassification remains a top enforcement priority for the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”), and class actions asserting misclassification claims are filed almost daily in federal and California state courts. Employers regularly using independent contractors should examine those relationships periodically to ensure that the classification remains defensible.
Continue Reading Worker Misclassification Risk? Top 10 Questions to Ask about Your Independent Contractors

The California Court of Appeal reversed a $1 million judgment against the City of Los Angeles in a racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation case brought by a firefighter under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Jumaane v. City of Los Angeles. After 12 years of litigation and two jury trials, the Court ruled that the firefighter’s claims occurred outside the one-year statute of limitations period and that the “continuing violation” exception to the statute of limitations did not apply.
Continue Reading Reversing $1 Million Judgment against Los Angeles, the California Court of Appeals Ruled Continuing Violation Doctrine did not apply to Firefighter’s Decades-Old Race Discrimination and Harassment Claims

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.
Continue Reading Employer to Pay for Emotional Distress Triggered by Random Workplace Drug Testing

On February 27, 2015, the California Court of Appeal determined that arbitration could not be compelled in Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. v. Superior Court (Edwards). Securitas’ arbitration agreement contained a waiver provision, waiving both class actions and representative Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) actions. In addition to waiving these claims, the waiver provision expressly stated that the waiver could not be severed from the agreement. In a separate paragraph, the Agreement contained a general severability clause, providing that “in the event any portion of this Agreement is deemed unenforceable, the remainder of this Agreement will be enforceable. If the Class Action Waiver is deemed to be unenforceable, [the parties] agree that this Agreement is otherwise silent as to any party’s ability to bring a class, collective, or representative action in arbitration.”
Continue Reading No Arbitration if Invalid PAGA Waiver Cannot be Severed

On February 26, 2015, in Franco v. Arakelian Enterprises, Inc., Case No. B232583, the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District held that trial court proceedings on claims pursuant to the California Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”) (Labor Code § 2698 et seq.) must be stayed pending individual arbitration of the underlying individual wage and hour claims (originally pled as classwide claims) pursuant to an arbitration agreement containing a classwide arbitration waiver.

Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Rules PAGA Claims Must Be Stayed Pending Outcome of Individual Arbitration on Underlying Individual Wage and Hour Claims

Affirming summary judgment in favor of an employer on an employee’s disability discrimination claims under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), the California Court of Appeal has ruled that the employer was not required to eliminate essential functions of a position as a reasonable accommodation. Nealy v. City of Santa Monica, No. B246634 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 13, 2015). The Court further held that reassigning the employee to a position for which he was not qualified and granting him an indefinite leave of absence until a suitable position became available also were not reasonable accommodations. As to the employee’s retaliation claim, the Court held that a request for a reasonable accommodation alone was insufficient to establish the employee engaged in protected activity.
Continue Reading Removing Essential Job Functions Not Reasonable Disability Accommodation Under California Law, Court Rules