California To Enact Broad “Fair Pay” Law Today

In an effort to close the wage gap between working men and women, the California legislature recently passed Senate Bill 358 (the “Fair Pay Act”) to amend California’s current equal pay law.  Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill today, and the amended law will take effect on January 1, 2016.  Public and private employers should take note of the amended law’s most significant changes, which are as follows: Continue reading

The NLRB’s “Radical” Joint Employer Decision Is The Biggest Win For Unions In Years

Yesterday, in Browning Ferris Industries of California, Inc., the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overruled 30 years of authority on the issue of joint employers.  In a decision which two Board Members called the “most sweeping of recent major decisions,” a slim 3-2 majority of the NLRB found that any company which has the right, whether used or unused, to “share or codetermine” the terms and conditions of employment are employers subject to its jurisdiction.  This “radical departure” from many years of decisions, if not reversed, will drastically broaden the NLRB’s mandate to thousands of new employers across the country. Continue reading

Los Angeles County To Raise Minimum Wage To $15 Per Hour

Late last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed the County Counsel to take steps to increase the the minimum wage for the entire county in the same increments as in the ordinance passed recently by the L.A. City Council.  Ultimately, if this becomes law, the minimum wage will increase to $15 per hour throughout the entire county, not just in the city of Los Angeles and after 2021, the minimum wage will increase automatically along with the rate of inflation.  The law is expected to be considered by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in the Fall.   Continue reading

The ADA At 25: Mental Disabilities In The Spotlight

Last year, we marked the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This year the Americans with Disabilities Act turns 25.  Two laws with a shared, broader goal—to level the playing field and eradicate unlawful discrimination—but also two laws with different pasts and likely different futures.  One of the key distinctions is this: we can all grasp what a “race” or “national origin” might be, but can you really peg, with certainty, what a “disability” is?  Probably not, because the legal meaning of this term is constantly evolving.  When, for example, we see someone in a wheelchair, or an amputee with crutches, we think there is certainty.  But what if the visual cues are not present?  What if the disability has nothing to do with one’s fingers and toes being intact, but is “from the neck up”?  If the last 25 years of the ADA have demonstrated anything, it is that the realm of mental, psychological and cognitive disorders and afflictions is one of the most significant and uncertain frontiers in employment disability discrimination law.  Two recent decisions, Weaving v. City of Hillsboro (9th Circuit) and Higgins-Williams v. Sutter Medical Foundation (California Court of Appeal), provide some clues as to where we are going. Continue reading

NLRB Judge Orders Reinstatement Of Employee Who Made Racist Taunts Toward African-Americans

The National Labor Relations Board promotes itself as a government agency that “safeguards employees’ rights,” but you would not know it from a recent ruling upholding racist statements made by union supporters on a picket line.  Earlier this month, in Cooper Tire & Rubber Company an administrative judge of the NLRB found that racist taunts made by strikers against African-American employees crossing a picket line were protected under the law.   Continue reading

California Amends Paid Sick Leave Law

This week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law an amendment to the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, a law passed last year which requires employers to provide paid sick leave. The law has been incredibly confusing for California employers and the amendments were designed to correct some of the more obvious drafting errors in the law.  The major changes are described below. Continue reading

Independent Contractors And Overtime: The DOL Steps Into The Ring With Jarring New Regulations

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has recently taken a firm stance on two of the most controversial issues facing American employers:  overtime compensation and misclassification of employees as independent contractors.  These controversial actions are likely to spark tremendous debate.  Employee  advocates have already touted the hope that raising salaries and income levels will close the gap of income inequality, a major theme in the upcoming presidential campaign.  At the same time, employers are likely not only to challenge the DOL’s process in implementing these changes (a tactic which has been successful in the past), but also to question their lasting effect on the workplace, specifically maintaining that these changes will cost jobs rather than raise salaries. Continue reading

“Black Swan” Internship Case Creates New Obstacles For Employers In California

In California, internships have always been viewed as a trade-off between prestigious employers and young students looking to get a foot in the proverbial door.  College students and graduates looking for highly-coveted positions in insular Hollywood and Silicon Valley companie take unpaid positions so they can make connections to build a network.  Because internships usually provide a “win-win,” there has been very little litigation over the propriety of those arrangements.  But, in 2013 a federal District Court in New York found that interns on the movie Black Swan were entitled to pursue a class action seeking millions of dollars in unpaid wages and overtime and studios and tech employers immediately took note. Continue reading

Exempt Employees Must Be Paid $50,000 Annually By 2016 Under New Regulations From The U.S. Department of Labor

More than a year ago, President Barack Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to “modernize and streamline” the agency’s white collar exemption regulations under the federal Fair Labor Standard Act.  Today, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced it was proposing a new rule raising the minimum salary level to qualify for an exemption to the 40th percentile of weekly average earnings of full time salaried employees nationwide.  For 2013, this equates to $921 per week, or $47,892 per year.  For 2016, when the rule will likely go into effect, this will likely equate to $970 per week or $50,440 per year. Continue reading

Uber Independent Contractor Decision Will Have Broad Consequences For Employers In California

Earlier today, Uber Technologies, Inc. announced the decision of the California Department of Labor, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) finding that a driver was an employee, not an independent contractor.  The case, which has been appealed to the Superior Court of California in San Francisco, will likely have far-reaching consequences for Uber and for other emerging technology companies. Continue reading