Labor & Employment Law Blog

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Pursuant to Government Code Section 12999, employers of 100 or more employees, and at least one California employee, must report pay and hours worked data by establishment, job category, pay band, sex, race, and ethnicity to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).  The deadline to do so is March 31, 2021 and annually on every March 31 thereafter.  In enacting this legislation, the Legislature noted that hidden bias exists and is encouraging self-assessment of pay disparities along gendered, racial, and ethnic lines to encourage voluntary compliance with equal pay and anti-discrimination laws.…
The Ninth Circuit and the California legislature recently updated employer leave requirements, impacting California employers.  The Ninth Circuit recently handed down two decisions regarding leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), including a decision concerning what constitutes a “workweek” for FMLA purposes.  Additionally, as of January 1, 2021, smaller employers in California will have to grant 12 weeks of leave under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”).  Employers should consider these changes as they update their leave policies, especially as employees may take more extended leaves during the COVID-19 pandemic.…
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)—the agency tasked with enforcing federal labor laws—was deputized by Congress in 1972 with authority to bring lawsuits against employers for violating anti-discrimination laws and retaliating against employees.  Since then, the agency has made a concerted and aggressive effort to challenge, among other things, standard clauses in separation agreements that have the potential to chill former employees’ participation in legal actions against their former employers, including non-cooperation and covenant not to sue clauses.  This concern is especially salient in the age of COVID-19, where many employers are using separation agreements at a breakneck pace due…
Substantial changes are afoot at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  Most notably, these include the firing of the NLRB’s General Counsel Peter Robb and the rescission of ten of Robb’s General Counsel Memoranda. The New Acting General Counsel further ordered the withdrawal of an unfair labor practice complaint against UNITE HERE challenging a pre-recognition neutrality agreement. This latter decision is at odds with guidance provided by the NLRB over the last several months and is certainly indicative of a transformation taking place at the agency under the Biden administration. These changes are discussed in detail below.…
On January 20, 2021 – nearly a year after the law’s effective date – the New York Department of Labor (“NYDOL”) issued new guidance (the “Guidance”) for employers regarding the scope of available sick leave for employees subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 (“Quarantine Leave”).  The Guidance creates new obligations for employers in New York and clarifies certain limitations on Quarantine Leave.  It is also intended to supplement other guidance previously issued by the NYDOL, which remains in effect.…
In a decision of considerable significance in the world of wage and hour litigation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit significantly departed from conventional standards for assessing conditional certification under Section 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  In Swales v. KLLM Transport Services, Inc., the Fifth Circuit rejected the conditional certification process entirely and drastically altered the procedure for assessing whether potential members of a collective action under the FLSA are “similarly situated.”…
On January 25, 2021, the NLRB Division of Advice (“the Division”) released a memo that may indicate a change in the way workers engaged in cannabis activities are covered under federal labor law. Under the NLRA, the right to form and join a union is limited to employees. Agricultural laborers do not have that right under federal law. Despite the fact that many workers in the cannabis industry are often involved in the cultivation and harvesting of a crop, they have typically been considered employees rather than agricultural laborers under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or “the Act”). This…
In Garcia v. Haralambos Beverage Co., the California Court of Appeal embraced the adage “time kills all deals” to conclude that an employer waived its right to arbitrate the wage-hour claims at issue in the case by, among other things, delaying two years to seek arbitration as a last resort and waiting to locate the plaintiffs’ signed arbitration agreements.  By waiving its right to arbitrate, the employer also lost its ability to strike class claims as a result.…
On January 6, 2021, a bipartisan group of New York State lawmakers introduced Assembly Bill 27, the latest version of proposed privacy legislation that would allow consumers to sue companies for improperly using or retaining their biometric data. Better known as the Biometric Privacy Act (the “BPA”), the bill, if enacted, would impose significant compliance requirements for companies handling biometric data. The BPA would make New York State only the second state with a private right of action that includes statutory damages against entities that improperly use or retain biometric data. If the BPA is signed into law, it…
On January 11, 2021, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020 (the “Act”), which, once effective, will be one of the broadest bans on non-compete agreements in the country.  Notably, the Act not only forbids agreements and policies that prohibit an employee from being employed by another person, performing work or providing services for pay for another person, or operating the employee’s own business after the employee’s separation from employment, it also bans agreements and policies that prohibit the aforementioned activities during the employee’s employment—thereby rendering anti-moonlighting policies impermissible in the District.  Further,…
The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted its Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) on COVID-19 prevention in the workplace on November 19, 2020, which we covered here.  Shortly after their adoption, the ETS became binding and enforceable against nearly all California employers effective November 30, 2020.  The next day, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) published frequently asked questions to provide guidance to employers on compliance with the extensive requirements under the ETS.  In light of significant pushback from employers finding themselves needing to deal with complications arising from near-immediate compliance, Cal/OSHA recently published additional guidance and…
After a decade of ups and downs on the question of federal preemption, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (“FMSCA”) decision to preempt California’s meal and rest break rules.  The long-awaited decision in IBT v. FMCSA upholds the FMSCA’s December 2018 determination that drivers, who are involved in interstate commerce and subject to federal hours-of-service regulations, are exempt from California’s stringent meal and rest break rules because they are “incompatible” with federal regulations.  “The FMCSA reached this conclusion because California required more breaks, more often and with less flexibility as to timing,”…
On January 7, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced its final rule (the “Final Rule”) setting the standard to determine whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The employee versus independent contractor debate has garnered significant attention over the years as more workers desire the flexibility that comes with contractor status. While the Final Rule – the DOL’s first codification of the independent contractor test – offers businesses, workers, regulators, and courts predictable guidance, it is unlikely to remain in its current form since it does not take…
In yet another decision concerning gig economy businesses, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department upheld a decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board (the “Board”), which held that Uber exercised sufficient control over its drivers to qualify as their employer.  Accordingly, it found Uber to be liable for unemployment insurance contributions with respect to the drivers at issue.…
For much of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many California employees have utilized leave entitlements through federal, state, and local paid sick leave statutes and ordinances.  As of December 31, 2020, however, the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), California’s COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (“CSPSL”) — and many local supplemental paid sick leaves (“LSPSL”) — have expired.  With coronavirus cases still surging nationwide and no additional guidance on the new exclusion pay requirements under the Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (“Cal/OSHA”) COVID-19 emergency temporary standards (“ETS”), California employers are left wondering what paid leave laws may…