California Wage-Hour Law

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 15, 2022 decision in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana could have a tremendous impact upon pending and future litigation, as well as employment practices in the state.

For some California employers, it will impact pending Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) litigation where the named plaintiff has an arbitration agreement with a class and representative action waiver.

Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court’s Viking River Cruises Decision Is a Significant Victory for California Employers – at Least for Now

In a recent post addressing the U.S. Supreme Court oral argument in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana, we mentioned that employers in California will want to consider the “pros and cons” of arbitration agreements should an employer-friendly decision be issued in that case, rather than rush to implement them.

In response, more than a few people have asked the same or similar questions — What are the “cons” of arbitration agreements? Why wouldn’t an employer want to use arbitration agreements, particularly if they will foreclose Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”) actions in California?

There are “cons” to these agreements — and they are not insignificant.

Continue Reading The Pros – and Cons – of Arbitration Agreements with Class Action Waivers

Silence can be telling.

That is especially so in the legal industry.

In the context of a hearing or oral argument, if judges or justices don’t ask an attorney a question, it can be incredibly encouraging – or incredibly discouraging.  It often means that the judges or justices have already made up their minds after having read the parties’ briefs and simply don’t have any questions or don’t need to hear anything more.

Continue Reading Did the Supreme Court Oral Argument on Viking River Cruises Signal a Coming Sea Change for California Employment Law?

Employers with operations both large and small in California are all too familiar with California’s Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”), the controversial statute that permits a single employee to stand in the shoes of the state’s attorney general and file suit on behalf of other employees to seek to recover penalties for alleged Labor Code violations.

The in terrorem effect of PAGA lawsuits, in which a plaintiff need not satisfy class certification criteria to represent an entire workforce, has led many employers to pay large settlements just to avoid legal fees and the possibility of larger awards, even when the evidence of unlawful conduct is spotty or entirely absent.

Will 2022 be the year that PAGA is repealed?

Continue Reading Will 2022 Be the Year California Voters Repeal PAGA?

More than three years after its landmark decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, the United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana to determine whether Epic Systems extends to arbitration agreements that include waivers of representative actions brought under the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA).

Employers with operations in California, who have been plagued by the filing of boilerplate PAGA actions, could be heard to breathe a sigh of relief.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Set to Decide Whether Epic Systems Extends to PAGA Representative Claims

Misclassifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees is a costly mistake.  Among the many issues arising from misclassification is potential liability under federal and state minimum wage and overtime laws.  As the laws continue to change and develop, so do the risks to contracting entities.

Federal Changes

Continue Reading Time Is Money: A Quick Wage-Hour Tip on … Independent Contractor Classification

On September 27, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the Garment Worker Protection Act, which makes California the first state to ban piece rate pay for garment workers, requiring instead that they be paid the minimum hourly wage.

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement Manual defines piece rate as, “[w]ork paid for according to the number of units turned out … [that] must be based upon an ascertainable figure paid for completing a particular task or making a particular piece of goods.”

Continue Reading California Becomes First State to Ban Piece Rate Pay for Garment Workers

Since the Supreme Court issued its seminal 2018 decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, acknowledging that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) permits the use of arbitration agreements with class action waivers, many employers have implemented arbitration programs for their employees. Those arbitration programs have been aimed, in no small part, at avoiding the class and collective actions that have overwhelmed employers, particularly in California.

In response, California passed AB 51, which prohibits imposing “as a condition of employment, continued employment, or the receipt of any employment-related benefit” the requirement that an individual “waive any right, forum or procedure” available under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and Labor Code.

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Decision Holds That California Law Addressing Mandatory Arbitration Agreements May Go Into Effect

It is no secret that the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) has been a cash cow for plaintiffs’ counsel in California.

PAGA allows a single employee (and their counsel) to file suit on behalf of other employees for alleged Labor Code violations, without having to go through the class action mechanism.  In other words, a PAGA plaintiff can file suit seeking penalties for hundreds or thousands of employees, yet never need to show that there are common issues susceptible to common proof – or even that their own claims are typical of those of other employees.

As a result, there has been little to prevent plaintiffs and their counsel from filing massive PAGA actions on behalf of all of an employer’s employees, even without having any basis to believe that many those employees suffered any violation at all.

Continue Reading California Appellate Decision Recognizing Manageability Requirements for PAGA Actions May Provide Much Needed Relief to Employers

Many people are employed at airports.  Of those, many individuals work within the terminals for private companies.  Federal law requires that those employees who work in the terminals must go through security checks – just like travelers.

Jesus Cazares was one of those employees, working at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  In bringing a lawsuit against his employer, Host International, Inc. – which operates the Admiral Club at LAX – Cazares alleged that he and his fellow employees were not paid for the time they spent passing through airport security checks en route to their work at the Admiral Club.  The district court rejected the notion that such time is compensable under California law and, earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit agreed in Cazares v. Host International, Inc.

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Concludes That Time in Airport Security Line is Not Compensable for Employees of Airport Vendors