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

Changes Afoot To The Minimum Wage In California

Today, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 to make the City the largest in the United States to have a minimum wage to $15/hour, a raise which will fully go into effect in 2020. Currently, the minimum wage is $9/hour and it will rise to $10.50/hour on July 1, 2016 for private employers with 25 or more employees (employers with fewer than 25 employees will have an extra year to comply). Continue reading

Supreme Court Opens The Door To More Religious Accommodation Claims

In a near-unanimous 7-page opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court held that employers need not have “actual knowledge” that an employee is requesting a modification of his position for religious purposes in order to be required to reasonably accommodate that request.  While the decision in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. was not terribly surprising, the Court’s broad consensus was.  Continue reading

Supreme Court Opens The Floodgates To Pregnancy Discrimination Cases

This week, in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., the United States Supreme Court found that, under Title VII, employers must provide pregnant employees with the same accommodations that they provide to employees in similar positions who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.”  In those terms, it’s an unremarkable decision — treat pregnant employees the same way you treat others.  But dig just a little deeper into the opinion and you can see that a clear majority of the court — from both ideological ends — has made the task of defending claims under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) much more difficult. Continue reading

Implementation Of DACA Expansion And New DAPA Program Delayed

Even before the President’s executive actions on immigration have been implemented, there is a new development. On Monday, a federal district court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  The original DACA program implemented in 2012 is unaffected.  The injunction is temporary while the case State of Texas v. U.S.A. proceeds in federal court.  The litigation was brought by 26 states objecting to the President’s executive action on immigration which was announced in late 2014 for implementation in 2015.  The injunction affects only two of the areas addressed by the executive action (DACA expansion and DAPA).  The Obama administration has announced that it will appeal the decision, and the immigration bar expects the decision will be overturned based the outcome of prior cases.  But implementation of DAPA and the DACA expansion are postponed for now.

- Leigh Cole