Labor & Employment Law Blog

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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…
The New York State Paid Sick Leave law (“NYSPSL”) and the amendments to the New York City Paid Safe and Sick Leave law (“ESSTA”) expanding employees’ paid sick leave entitlements will go into full effect on January 1, 2021. As we previously reported, NYSPSL went into effect on September 30, 2020 for accrual purposes, but employees are not able to access their accrued sick leave until January 1, 2021. As a reminder, under both NYSPSL and ESSTA, the amount of sick leave is determined by an employer’s size and net income in a given calendar year: Employers with 4…
On December 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its final rule modifying federal regulations concerning compensation for “tipped employees.”  The new final rule follows 2018 federal legislation, which amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to, among other things, prohibit employers from keeping their employees’ tips “for any purposes, including allowing managers or supervisors to keep any portion of employees’ tips” even if they do not claim a tip credit.…
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine guidance for employers on December 16, 2020, providing answers related to workplace requirements about COVID-19 vaccines. With COVID-19 vaccinations underway in the U.S., the deployment poses complex questions for employers determining whether to mandate vaccines for all employees and how to manage such mandates. Although the EEOC acknowledges that federal employment laws do not prevent employers from following guidelines from public health authorities, the administration of vaccines to employees raises legal issues employers should consider. This article discusses the EEOC’s new guidance and the process required for employers mandating…
Employers operating, even on a limited basis, in Colorado should be aware of Colorado’s recent wage disparity and discrimination bill, which takes effect in 2021 and imposes widespread requirements related to record-keeping, disclosure, and transparency. In May of 2019, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act into law.  The Act will go into effect on January 1, 2021.  The Act was enacted to address pay disparities affecting women and minorities, and includes several provisions aimed at preventing wage discrimination, such as:…
On November 16, 2020, California implemented an accelerated application of its Blueprint for a Safer Economy metrics. Under the Blueprint Framework, every county in California is assigned to a tier based on its test positivity and adjusted case rate. Each tier has its own set of restrictions. Three days later, on November 19, 2020, the state issued a limited Stay at Home Order.…