Posts in State Wage and Hour Laws.
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On May 15, 2024, the New Jersey Supreme Court held in Maia v. IEW Construction Group that both the six-year look-back period and liquidated damages provided by the state Wage Theft Act (WTA) do not apply retroactively. Notably, the WTA’s extended statute of limitations will only apply to conduct that occurred after the WTA’s effective date—August 6, 2019. As such, employees filing suit before August 6, 2025 to recover unpaid wages may only recover for conduct occurring after the WTA’s effective date even though the relevant time period would not include the full six-year look-back period. Although the look-back period is now six years, if an employee files a lawsuit today, that employee would only be able to recover for conduct dating back to August 6, 2019 (which is a limitations period of less than 5 years). Similarly, employees may only recover liquidated damages—which were not previously available under the state wage and hour laws—for conduct occurring after the WTA’s effective date.

For background, the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law (WHL) and the New Jersey Wage Payment Law (WPL) require employers timely pay their employees for all wages earned, including any overtime. In August 2019, New Jersey enacted the WTA, amending the WHL and WPL by adding liquidated damages and extending the statute of limitations from two years to six years. This means that, pursuant to the WTA amendments, employees who file suit seeking to recover unpaid wages may recover any unpaid wages within six years prior to the commencement of such lawsuit (often referred to as the “six-year look-back period”) plus liquidated damages up to 200% of the wages owed, together with costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

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More than a decade ago, Epstein Becker Green (EBG) created its complimentary wage-hour app, putting federal, state, and local wage-hour laws at employers’ fingertips.

The app provides important information about overtime, overtime exemptions, minimum wages, meal periods, rest periods, on-call time, and travel time, as well as tips that employers can use to remain compliant with the law and, hopefully, avoid class action, representative action, and collective action lawsuits and government investigations. 

As the laws have changed over the years, so too has EBG’s free ...

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On January 31, 2024, a Massachusetts trial court dismissed a claim against the Boston Globe alleging that the newspaper violated the commonwealth’s Wage Act by failing to pay an executive’s 2020 profit-share which the executive labeled a “commission.”  The court concluded that the percentage of the Globe’s profits that the executive may be owed under his compensation plan is not a percentage of revenue he personally generated and as a result is not a “commission” under the Wage Act.

Vinay Mehra, the Globe’s President from 2017 until his June 2020 termination, filed ...

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Although incorporating nondiscretionary compensation like commissions and (promised or contractual) production bonuses into the calculation of the “regular rate of pay” has been federal law for decades, claims involving that calculation – or lack thereof – have increasingly been brought by California plaintiffs’ lawyers.  Even though miscalculations or noncalculations may result in a difference of a few dollars or even pennies lost, plaintiffs’ lawyers litigate these claims in hopes of obtaining penalties that far outweigh any underpayments.  Rather than ...

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Over the past five years, ten states and several local jurisdictions across the country have passed wage transparency laws in an effort to address gender and racial wage disparities.  Wage transparency laws may apply to wage range disclosures and promotional opportunities in job advertisements, among current employees and job applicants.  In this changing landscape, employers must be diligent in order to comply with these laws, given their variety with respect to who must receive disclosures, which factual circumstances trigger disclosure requirements, and what information ...

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An amended version of AB 1228 was passed in the California Legislature on September 14, 2023, [1] which would raise minimum wages for fast food workers and water down the authority of the new Fast Food Council that was created in a bill passed last year. AB 1228, originally introduced on February 16, 2023, was revised on September 11, 2023 after negotiations occurred between labor unions and the fast food industry. It significantly modifies provisions from the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (FAST Recovery Act) passed last year, which does not go into effect ...

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On August 16, 2023, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Third Circuit vacated and remanded a decision from the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruling that the time spent by oil-rig workers changing in and out of their protective gear was not compensable.

Plaintiffs Rodney Tyger, Shawn Wadsworth brought a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action against Defendants Precision Drilling Corp., Precision Drilling Oilfield Services, Inc., and Precision Drilling Company, LP (“Precision”), an oil rig, for failing to pay them for pre-shift donning and post-shift doffing of ...

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Earlier this year, on February 6, 2023, the New Jersey Governor signed the Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights into law.

On August 21, 2023, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) Division of Wage and Hour and Contract Compliance published Proposed Regulations to govern the new law. The Department will be accepting public comments regarding the Law until October 20, 2023. While the Bill of Rights has wide-sweeping consequences for temporary laborers and third-party clients, it is also notable for making New Jersey the first state to require equal ...

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On August 4, 2023, the Governor of Illinois signed HB 2862 into law, amending the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act (DTLS).

Under the amendments, temporary labor service agencies must pay temporary workers who are assigned to a third-party client for more than 90 days wages and benefits (or the cash value of such benefits) equal to the lowest-paid comparable direct-hire employee at the third-party client.

A direct-hire comparator means an individual with equal seniority status to the temporary worker who performs the “same or substantially similar” role under ...

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Psychologist Abraham Maslow once observed, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.”[1] That sums up the state of commission litigation under the Massachusetts Wage Act: mandatory treble damages, attorneys’ fees, and the prospect that a court might strike a term of an agreed-upon commission plan as an unenforceable “special contract” that deprives an employee of earned wages has led to an uptick in the number of commission claims. Given these potential consequences, employees sometimes try to fit a square peg into a ...

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With $3 million in funding from A.B. 102, California’s recent appropriations bill, the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC), the administrative body charged by statute to regulate wages, hours, and working conditions, will reconvene for the first time since 2004, when it was defunded for budgetary reasons.  The IWC was established in 1913 and has gone through several changes throughout the years.  Its most recent, lasting impact on employment in California, however, consists of 17 “wage orders” regulating the wages, hours and working conditions in specific industries. 

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For decades, many employers have rounded non-exempt employees’ work time when calculating their compensation.  Maybe they have rounded employee work time to the nearest 10 minutes, maybe to the nearest quarter hour, but they done it. And, generally, the courts have approved of the practice.

But as more and more lawsuits are filed challenging the practice, and as the courts begin to review time-rounding more frequently and more critically, the question employers with time-rounding policies should ask themselves today is this:  Why are we still rounding our employees’ time?

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The California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District recently issued its opinion regarding business-related expenses in Thai v. International Business Machines Corporation. The Court found that expenses incurred by employees in direct consequence of performing their jobs may be reimbursable regardless of whether such expenses are directly caused by the employer.

Paul Thai was employed by defendant and respondent IBM. Thai required, among other things, internet access, telephone service, a telephone headset, a computer and accessories in order to perform the functions of his job. On March 19, 2020, Governor Newsom issued a stay-at-home order that instructed all California residents “[t]o stay home or at their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors” and any other additional sectors later designated as critical. After the order went into effect, IBM directed Thai and thousands of other workers to continue performing their regular job duties from home. Thai and the other IBM workers personally paid for the services and equipment necessary to do their jobs while working from home, and IBM did not reimburse them for those expenses.

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On July 21, 2023, a unanimous three-judge panel once again affirmed a California federal court’s ruling that the truck drivers who deliver ingredients from Domino’s Southern California Supply Chain Center to Domino’s California franchisees are exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”).

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Employers with operations both large and small in California are all too familiar with California’s Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”), the controversial 2004 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.

PAGA lawsuits are filed with great regularity by members of the plaintiffs’ bar.

And 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.

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Handbooks are developed to outline policies and procedures employees must abide by in the workplace.  But a handbook serves a dual, equally important purpose:  to act as an operable defense against workplace claims brought by employees as a way to demonstrate that the employer had equitable and compliant policies in place.

In California, employers are required to disseminate such workplace information to employees another way: through workplace postings.  The Department of Industrial Relations requires workplace postings be displayed in a ‘conspicuous’ place where they are easily visible to the intended audience, such as a bulletin board or mail-room/break-room wall or, in special circumstances, in a binder if there is no room to post such materials.  In California, every business must post not only the Wage Order(s) that apply to its operation and the minimum wage[1] where employees can see them, but also 16 other employment notices.  Failure to post required, up-to-date notices can have serious consequences, including costly penalties[2] and criminal charges. 

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The California Supreme Court has issued its highly anticipated decision in Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc., concluding that plaintiffs who must arbitrate their “individual” PAGA claims are not deprived of standing to pursue “non-individual” PAGA claims in court on behalf of others.

More precisely, Justice Goodwin H. Liu wrote that “an order compelling arbitration of the individual claims does not strip the plaintiff of standing as an aggrieved employee to litigate claims on behalf of other employees under PAGA.”

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The current statewide minimum wage rate in California is $15.50 for all employers. However, some localities across the Golden State have set their own higher minimum wage rate. For many of these localities, the next increase is set to take effect on July 1, 2023.

For example, in Los Angeles County, the minimum wage increases from $16.04 to $16.78 in the City of Los Angeles and from $15.96 to $16.90 in unincorporated areas.  Here is a list of those local cities and counties raising their minimum wage rates:

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On May 3, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced – and then signed into law – the New York Legislature’s 2024 Budget Agreement (“Budget”), which includes increases to the state’s minimum wage.  Effective January 1, 2024, the minimum wage will increase to $16 per hour in New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, and to $15 per hour in the remainder of the state.  The minimum wage will then increase by another $.50 each year in 2025 and 2026—reaching $17 per hour in downstate New York by 2026. Subsequent annual increases to the minimum wage will be tied to the inflation rate. The State Department of Labor (DOL) is required to publish future adjusted minimum wage rates by no later than October 1st of each year.

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On March 23, 2023, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed into law Senate Bill 73 (“SB 73”) expanding the group of employees eligible for tip pooling by allowing employers to include non-tipped employees in a bona fide tip pooling or sharing arrangement.

Historically, only “tipped employees” were permitted to participate in a tip pooling or sharing arrangement under Utah State law. This form of tip pooling is also allowed under federal law and is otherwise known as a traditional tip pool. A “tipped employee” is one who customarily and regularly receives tips or gratuities.”[1] Common examples of tipped employees include waiters and waitresses, whereas dishwashers, chefs, cooks, and janitors are examples of non-tipped employees.

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work | \ wərk \ (noun):  activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something

In common parlance, the concept of “work” connotes some physical or mental exertion.  The law, however, defines the term more broadly, and properly compensating employees often is not as simple as paying for all time spent performing “work” in the usual sense of that term.  The Fair Labor Standard Act (“FLSA”) and the laws of many states require employers to also pay for certain periods of time during which employees are idle and simply waiting to begin working—even if those employees never become engaged in work. 

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On March 10, 2023, a unanimous three-judge panel upheld an Oregon federal court’s ruling that time Amazon employees spent undergoing mandatory security screenings before and after work shifts and off-premises meal breaks was not compensable, as the screenings were not integral and indispensable to their jobs under state law.

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The Washington, D.C. Council (the Council) has yet again taken action to delay enforcement of Initiative 82, the District’s new law to eliminate the use of the “tip credit” for certain service industry employees by July 1, 2027.

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Gratuities are often helpful for both employees and their employers: tips supplement a worker’s income, and federal law and the laws of most states allow employers to credit a portion of a worker’s tips toward the company’s minimum wage obligations. But what exactly is a tip and how do employers take this so-called “tip credit?”

What is a tip or gratuity?

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The Ninth Circuit has issued its long-awaited ruling in Chamber of Commerce v. Bonta, perhaps putting a nail in the coffin of the controversial California law known as AB 51, which would have made it criminal conduct to require an applicant or employee to sign an arbitration agreement.

The history of AB 51 and the case challenging it is a tortuous one, to say the least, but the issue has always remained the same: was the California legislature too clever in its attempt to circumvent the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) and the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Epic Systems?

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More than a decade ago, Epstein Becker Green (EBG) created its complimentary wage-hour app, putting federal, state, and local wage-hour laws at employers’ fingertips.

The app provides important information about overtime exemptions, minimum wages, overtime, meal periods, rest periods, on-call time, travel time, and tips that employers can use to remain compliant with the law—and, hopefully, to avoid class action, representative action, and collective action lawsuits and government investigations. 

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The Los Angeles City Council passed the Fair Work Week Ordinance (“FWWO”) that seeks to “implement enforcement measures for the new fair work week employment standards” for employees in the retail sector.  Going into effect April 1, 2023, the FWWO will apply to any person, association, organization, partnership, business trust, limited liability company or corporation in the retail business or trade sector that directly or indirectly exercises control over the wages, hours or conditions of at least 300 employees globally.  This includes employees through an agent or any other person, including through the services of a temporary staffing agency.

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We seem to say this every year -- December always seems to go by far too fast.  And with holidays and vacations, not to mention many employees still working remotely, it’s not unusual for matters to be put off until the new year — or for a project or two to fall through the cracks.

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On Tuesday, November 8, 2022, Washington, D.C. voters approved a ballot measure to eliminate the “tip credit” which allowed service industry employers to pay servers, bartenders, and other tipped employees $5.35 an hour rather than D.C.’s $16.10 per hour minimum wage. Currently, employers are required to pay the balance if an employee is unable to make up the difference through tips. Initiative 82 will phase out the tip credit, raising the tip credit minimum wage to $6.00 in January 2023, and then to $8 on July 1, 2023, and then increasing by $2.00 every year until 2027. In 2027 ...

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In reversing a Nevada district court’s grant of summary judgment, the Ninth Circuit, in Cadena v. Customer Connexx LLC, recently held that the time call center employees spent booting up their computers is compensable. Because a functioning computer was necessary for the call center employees to do their job, the court unanimously agreed that the time required to turn on their computer and log in was “integral and indispensable to their principal activities” and, therefore, compensable, subject to certain limitations.

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California plaintiffs’ lawyers typically bring every type of wage-hour claim they can.  Increasingly, however, they have focused on one type of claim – wage statement violations.

As we have previously written about, bringing class and representative actions under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) alleging that employers did not fully comply with California’s onerous wage statement laws has become a lucrative practice for the plaintiffs’ bar.  Given the flurry of litigation, it is beneficial for employers that do business in California to review their wage statements to best ensure compliance.

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Employers based outside of California can suffer knockout blows if they enter the ring as employers in California and operate under the mistaken assumption that adherence to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is the same as complying with the California Labor Code and Wage Orders.  Below are the main ways (but certainly not the only ways) employers are “caught cold” because they do not receive or apply California wage-and-hour training and learn the hard way that the plaintiffs’ bar will not pull any punches.

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Pursuant to two voter initiatives, Michigan has a new minimum wage of $12 per hour, as well as a requirement that employees be provided up to 72 hours of paid sick leave – but those changes will not go into effect until February 19, 2023.

In 2018, two initiatives – the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act (2018 PA 368) and the Earned Sick Time Act (2018 PA 369) – were presented to the Michigan legislature. The wage initiative raised the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2022. The paid sick time initiative required most employers to provide up to 72 hours of paid sick leave per year.

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On June 28, 2022, Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee signed into law a comprehensive tip protection bill. The law, which took effect immediately upon passage, generally prohibits employers from retaining any portion of an employee’s tips.

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The weather is not the only thing changing this summer. As reflected in the charts below, nearly two dozen states and localities are increasing their respective minimum wages effective July 1, 2022. Accordingly, employers with minimum wage workers should consult with counsel to ensure that their compensation practices are compliant with the laws in all jurisdictions in which they operate nationwide.

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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.

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Chicago’s Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection recently announced that the city’s minimum wage for various employers will increase per the Minimum Wage Ordinance (Ordinance), effective July 1, 2022.

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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.

Blogs
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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.

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Years ago, Epstein Becker Green (“EBG”) created its free wage-hour app, putting federal, state, and local wage-laws at employers’ fingertips.

The app provides important information about overtime exemptions, minimum wages, overtime, meal periods, rest periods, on-call time, travel time, and tips.

As the laws have changed, so, too, has EBG’s free wage-hour app, which is updated to reflect those developments.

Blogs
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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?

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Over the past few years, lower courts in Massachusetts have grappled with determining whether the “ABC test” under the independent-contractor statute provides the proper framework for assessing joint-employment liability. The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has finally answered that question.  On December 13, 2021, in Jinks v. Credico (USA) LLC, the SJC held that the independent-contractor statute’s “ABC test” does not apply and instead adopted the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) “totality of the circumstances” approach to joint employment.

Credico was a client broker for independent direct marketing companies. It contracted with DFW Consultants, Inc. (DFW) to provide sales and marketing services for its clients in Massachusetts. To provide those services, DFW hired three of the plaintiffs – Kyana Jinks, Antwione Taylor, and Lee Tremblay – as salespeople. DFW classified Jinks and Taylor as independent contractors and Tremblay as an employee.

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December is not the shortest month of the year, but it always seems to go by the fastest.

And with holidays and vacations, not to mention employees working remotely, it’s not unusual for matters to be put off until the new year -- or for a project or two to fall through the cracks.

Often times, there are no real consequences if a project gets pushed off into the new year.

But that’s not the case with new state or local wage-hour laws.

As reflected in the charts below, minimum wages increased in dozens of states and localities when the new year rang in on January 1, 2022 – and exempt salary thresholds also increased in some states effective January 1, 2022.

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Before ringing in the New Year, employers should carefully evaluate whether they need to adjust their current practices to ensure that they remain compliant with state and local laws, including those relating to minimum wage and salary thresholds for exempt employees.

As reflected in the charts below, in 2022, minimum wages will increase in more than two dozen states and localities, with many changes taking effect January 1st. Accordingly, employers with minimum wage workers should consult with counsel to ensure that their compensation practices are compliant with the laws in all jurisdictions in which they operate. Employers should pay particular attention to the effective date to ensure compliance by the appropriate date.

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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.

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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

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The doctrine “joint employer” liability has received significant attention in recent months, including on this blog. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, an employee may be deemed to have multiple employers—each of whom would be liable jointly for all aspects of FLSA compliance, including with regard to the payment of wages—in connection with his or her performance of the same work. During the prior administration, the U.S. DOL issued a rule intended to standardize the parameters of joint employer liability.  Months later, however, a federal court invalidated a portion of the new rule, holding that it impermissibly narrowed the scope of the joint employer doctrine. And, in July 2021, the DOL announced its outright repeal of the rule—i.e., whether a business might face joint employer liability will again be governed by the multi-factor “economic reality” test subject to varying judicial interpretations.

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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.”

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On June 1, 2021 the Southern District of Florida granted the motion by Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”) to compel arbitration, finding that the company’s drivers did not engage in sufficient interstate commerce to meet the interstate commerce exclusion in the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).

Plaintiffs Kathleen Short and Harold White brought a class action against Uber alleging that the company’s policy of classifying its drivers as independent contractors violates the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Florida Minimum Wage Act because the company failed to pay drivers the minimum wage. Uber sought to enforce its arbitration agreement which unambiguously required plaintiffs to pursue any potential claims in an individual arbitration.

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On September 1, 2021, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey approved two versions of a ballot initiative (version 1, version 2) concerning the relationship between app-based drivers (such as those who transport passengers or deliver food) and the companies with which they contract. If passed, the ballot initiative will enact the Relationship Between Network Companies and App-Based Drivers Act (the “Act”) and classify such drivers as independent contractors, not employees. It will also require ride-sharing and food-delivery companies to provide them with certain benefits.

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Many New York families employ domestic workers –individuals who care for a child, serve as a companion for a sick, convalescing or elderly person, or provide housekeeping or any other domestic service. They may be unaware of federal and New York requirements that guarantee those domestic workers minimum wage for all hours worked, paid meal breaks, and overtime compensation.

In addition, New York imposes specific requirements on employers regarding initial pay notices, pay frequency, and pay statements that also apply to persons who employ domestic workers.

To avoid inadvertent wage and hour violations, it is important that persons who employ domestic workers in New York understand the relevant laws regarding domestic workers and approach what many understandably consider a personal relationship as a formal, business one for wage and hour purposes.

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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.

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This summer, the Colorado Supreme Court addressed whether employers may implement practices by which employees forfeit accrued, unused vacation pay upon the termination of employment.  In Nieto v. Clark’s Mkt., Inc., 2021 CO 48, 2021 Colo. LEXIS 423 (Colo. June 14, 2021), the Court held that the Colorado Wage Claim Act (“CWCA”) requires employers to pay employees for earned but unused vacation upon the separation of their employment. The requirement applies irrespective of an employment agreement or policy forfeiting an employee’s right to such payment.

In Nieto, the ...

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On July 19, 2021, Delaware Governor John Carney signed legislation that will gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. This is a substantial increase from Delaware’s current minimum wage of $9.25 per hour. The minimum wage requirements apply to all employers who employ individuals in the state.

Following the examples set by neighboring Maryland and New Jersey, Delaware’s minimum wage increase will occur in phases. Effective January 1, 2022, the minimum wage will increase to $10.50 per hour. Thereafter, the minimum wage will increase annually on the ...

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Effective July 1, 2021, Virginia employers must ensure that their pay practices comply with a new stand-alone overtime law called the Virginia Overtime Wage Act (“VOWA”). VOWA largely tracks the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) in that it incorporates most FLSA exemptions and requires employers to pay 1.5 times a nonexempt employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours each workweek. However, VOWA and the FLSA differ in several ways.

Determining an Employee’s Regular Rate of Pay

VOWA’s most significant divergence from the FLSA ...

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California law generally requires that non-exempt employees be paid 1.5 times their “regular rate of pay” for work performed beyond 40 hours in a week or 8 hours in a day – and twice their “regular rate of pay” for time worked in excess of 12 hours in day or beyond 8 hours on the seventh day of the workweek.

While “regular rate of pay” is not expressly defined in the California Labor Code, there should be few questions about what that rate is when an employee works at the same rate during the workweek.

But when an employee works at two (or more) different rates of pay during a single ...

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On June 16, 2021, Hawaii enacted Senate Bill 793 (the “Act”), which repeals an exemption to the minimum wage for disabled employees, often referred to as “the disability subminimum wage.” The Act took effect immediately and requires all Hawaii employers pay disabled individuals no less than the state minimum wage.

Previously, Section 14(c) of federal Fair Labor Standards Act permitted Hawaii employers to pay individuals with disabilities less than the state minimum wage, which is currently set at $10.10.  However, the Act explains that the exemption, which was intended to ...

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As we previously reported, starting in 2016 the District of Columbia by statute gradually increased its minimum wage to $15.00 per hour, and its tipped minimum to $5.00, effective July 1, 2020. However, included in the statute were provisions for subsequent increases of both these rates based on the annual average increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban consumers in the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area. See D.C. Code §32-1003(a)(6) and (f)(2).  The D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) recently announced that pursuant to these provisions, effective ...

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For decades, the practice of motor carriers arranging for freight to be transported by independent owner-operators—i.e., independent contractors who drive their own trucks—has been ubiquitous. However, this practice is now under threat in California because of a recent court decision.

On April 28, 2021, in California Trucking Ass’n v. Bonta, No. 20-55106 (9th Cir. 2021) (“CTA v. Bonta”), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit addressed whether the broad preemption language of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 ...

Blogs
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With the United States in the midst of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, there has been focused attention on the rollout of vaccines approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the actual number of individuals being vaccinated. Presently, 250 million COVID-19 vaccine shots have been administered and individuals 16 years of age and older are eligible to receive the vaccine.  Now, in an effort to get more people vaccinated, employers are being encouraged to provide paid time off for employees who have not yet been vaccinated against the virus.

Federal ...

Blogs
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Years ago, Epstein Becker Green (“EBG”) created its free wage-hour app to put federal, state, and local wage-laws at employers’ fingertips.

The app provides important information about overtime exemptions, minimum wages, overtime, meal periods, rest periods, on-call time, travel time, and tips.

As the laws have changed, so, too, has EBG’s free wage-hour app, which is updated to reflect new developments.

No fewer than 46 states (or the localities within them) had changes to their overtime, minimum wage, or child labor laws effective January 1, 2021 – and EBG’s ...

Blogs
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We have previously discussed on this page how rounding practices can be problematic.  Now, in Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC, the California Supreme Court has provided yet another reason for employers in California to review their time rounding practices, as well as their meal period practices.

As we previously discussed, more than eight years ago in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, the California Supreme Court clarified many of the general requirements for meal and rest periods under California law.  Relevant to the decision in Donohue, the Court held that employees must be ...

Blogs
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At the time we are posting this, we are just weeks away from the inauguration of President-Elect Joseph Biden. Although perhaps not at the very top of the list of questions about the forthcoming Biden administration, somewhere on the list has to be this question: “What changes will we see in wage-hour law?”

We don’t have the proverbial crystal ball, but there are a number of issues that the Biden administration may focus on at some point during the next four years, be it through legislation, new rules implemented by the Department of Labor (DOL) or even executive orders.  They may ...

Blogs
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Many employers may be eager to put 2020 in the rearview mirror.  But before ringing in the New Year, employers should carefully evaluate whether they need to make any changes to their current practices to ensure that they remain in compliance with state and local laws, including those relating to minimum wage.

As reflected in the chart below, in 2021, minimum wage will increase in more than two dozen states, with most of the changes set to take effect on January 1.  Minimum wage will also increase at the local level in a number of counties and cities.  Accordingly, employers with minimum wage ...

Blogs
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Which state’s wage and hour laws apply to Louisiana employers whose employees applied and interviewed for their jobs in Louisiana, acknowledged receipt of employment documents in Louisiana, and resided in Texas, Mississippi, and Ohio while they worked offshore?  The answer, according to the California Court of Appeals, is California if the employees are based in California.

In Gulf Offshore Logistics, LLC et al. v. Superior Court of Ventura County, employees worked on a vessel that provided maintenance services to offshore oil platforms located outside California’s ...

Blogs
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In a continuing trend, employers are abandoning on-call scheduling as states and cities continue to pass predictive scheduling laws.

1. What is Predictive Scheduling?

Predictive scheduling laws require employers to give employees adequate notice of when they will work so that they can plan for and around their work shifts.  The idea is that, unlike on-call scheduling, predictable schedules make it easier for workers, especially part-time retail and restaurant workers, to meet their needs, such as working another job, attending school, or arranging childcare.  The laws generally ...

Blogs
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The legal landscape surrounding independent contractor relationships in California continues to evolve swiftly.

As we wrote here, in January 2020, state court Judge William Highberger issued a decision holding that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (“FAAAA”) preempts use of California’s version of the “ABC” test (as adopted by the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court, and subsequently codified in AB 5) to differentiate between independent contractors and employees in the trucking industry.  More ...

Blogs
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We have written frequently here about AB5, California’s controversial law that creates an “ABC” test that must be satisfied in order for a worker to be treated as an independent contractor.  As we explained here, AB5 codified and expanded the “ABC” test adopted by the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court for determining whether workers in California should be classified as employees or as independent contractors.

While the statute was unambiguously aimed at ride share and food delivery companies that treat drivers as ...

Blogs
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As we wrote here just several days ago, Californians were facing the seemingly unimaginable this week– the possibility of living without ride share services for the foreseeable future.

In short, a state court judge issue a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) requiring ride share companies to treat their drivers as employees in purported compliance with  AB 5, California’s controversial new law that only permits workers to be classified as independent contractors in most industries if they satisfy an “ABC” test.

After the same judge refused to stay the TRO during the ...

Blogs
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To some, it may feel like it was a lifetime ago when ride share companies did not even exist.  In those seemingly long-ago days, people relied upon friends to drive them to or from the airport, or assigned designated drivers for those nights when they attended events where alcohol would be served, or used other methods of transportation to travel the roadways to their various destinations.

Californians may soon be living like that again.

As we shared the other day, a California Superior Court has issued a temporary restraining order requiring ride share companies to treat their drivers as ...

Blogs
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We have written here frequently about California’s controversial AB 5 law, which permits companies to treat workers as independent contractors only if they satisfy a stringent “ABC” test.

The broad statute, unambiguously written to try to force companies to treat gig economy workers as employees, has been the subject of a great deal of debate and litigation, including a state court action filed by the State Attorney General trying to force ride share companies to treat their drivers as employees.

In the action filed by the State Attorney General, the Superior Court judge has ...

Blogs
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In employment, as in life generally, breaking up can be hard to do.  This is particularly so when a departing employee owes the employer money.  Most employers understand that applicable law often prohibits simply deducting such debts from an employee’s final paycheck.  Consider, for example, a recently terminated employee who refuses to return a $500 printer the employer provided to allow the employee to work from home.  In most states, absent an agreement in writing, wage payment laws prohibit the employer from deducting $500 from the employee’s final paycheck to recover the cost ...

Blogs
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As we wrote here recently,  two federal courts in California rejected Postmates’ attempt to escape having to defend thousands of individual arbitrations filed by drivers contending they have been misclassified as independent contractors. Those decisions require Postmates to pay millions in arbitration fees alone.

A federal court in Illinois has now reached the same conclusion, holding that Postmates must proceed with more than 200 individual arbitrations that will cost Postmates $11 million in arbitration fees.

Arbitration agreements with class action waivers have become ...

Blogs
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The California Labor Commissioner’s Office has taken aim at Mobile Wash, Inc., a business that offers a mobile app for on-demand car washing and detailing services, filing a lawsuit against the company and its president to enforce AB5, California’s controversial law designed to make it more difficult for businesses to engage workers as independent contractors.

As we wrote here, AB5 codified and expanded the “ABC test” adopted by the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court for determining whether workers in California should be ...

Blogs
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For those of you who may have been wondering whether the California Attorney General’s office was still open during the statewide stay-at-home order triggered by the coronavirus, the answer is yes – as evidenced by a statewide misclassification lawsuit filed in San Francisco by the Attorney General, along with the city attorneys for Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.

The lawsuit alleges that ride share companies have unlawfully misclassified drivers as independent contractors under AB 5, the controversial statute that went into effect on January 1, 2020.

As we previously wrote here, AB5 codified and expanded the “ABC” test adopted by the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court for determining whether workers in California should be classified as employees or as independent contractors.

To satisfy the “ABC” test, the hiring entity must demonstrate that:

  • the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and
  • the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and
  • the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.
Blogs
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Generally, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) requires employers to compensate their non-exempt employees for all time that they are required or allowed to perform work, regardless of where and when the work is done.  However, an exception exists for small amounts of time that are otherwise compensable work time but challenging to record, otherwise known as the de minimis doctrine.  Of course, the million-dollar question is how much time is considered de minimis.  Unfortunately, there is no bright-line rule and the answer may differ under federal law and California law, or ...

Blogs
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We have written here about the efforts of several gig economy companies like DoorDash to avoid having to conduct – and pay for – thousands of individual arbitrations alleging that their workers had been misclassified.

As we have said before, companies that implement arbitration agreements with class action waivers must be careful what they ask for.  By using such agreements, they run the risk of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of individual arbitrations, the cost of which could threaten the companies’ very existence.  (In California, we estimate that the arbitration costs ...

Blogs
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Be careful what you ask for.

We have used that expression frequently when writing about recent federal court orders requiring DoorDash and Postmates to conduct thousands of individual arbitrations in California pursuant to the terms of their arbitration agreements with their drivers.

Thousands of individual arbitrations for which DoorDash and Postmates would have to pay many millions of dollars in arbitration fees alone.

The risk of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of individual arbitrations attends any time an employer seeks the benefits of an arbitration agreement ...

Blogs
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As previously discussed, Colorado officially adopted the Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order # 36 (“COMPS Order”) on January 22, 2020, which went into effect on March 16, 2020.  However, the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (“the Division”) has recently implemented temporary emergency modifications to the COMPS Order.  The temporary changes will remain in effect through July 14, 2020 (the “temporary period”), although the State intends to go through a formal notice and comment period to make ...

Blogs
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Employers in California have been inundated with wage-hour class actions for the past two decades.  And, time and again, they have had to deal with employee-friendly decisions from the California Supreme Court.

Leave it to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal to step in and put an end to a proposed class action, finding that there were no “real-world consequences” from wage statements that had an error in the employer’s name.

In Lerna Mays v. Walmart Stores, Inc., the plaintiff brought suit under California Labor Code section 226 after receiving her final pay stub, which listed her ...

Blogs
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In the coming days, weeks and perhaps months, many employers will have difficult decisions to make about their operations and their workforces.  With their operations shutting down or running at less than capacity, many employers will decide that they must lay off employees.

It’s a decision that no employer wishes for or enjoys.  And it is one that poses some risks.

Not only must employers take steps to ensure that layoff decisions are made in a manner that does not adversely impact protect groups, but employers need to be mindful of the various state laws governing when final wages must ...

Blogs
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As the number of U.S. states reporting cases of COVID-19 coronavirus increases, many employers are imposing mandatory work from home (“WFH”) policies to mitigate risk of contamination and ensure business continuity.  Some employers are requiring employees who have travelled to or received visitors from mainland China (or other areas with high infection rates) and those with fever or other flu-like symptoms to remain at home for 14 days, while others are instructing half or more, up to their entire workforce, to work remotely until further notice.  Whatever the form, employers ...

Blogs
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We encourage our readers to visit Workforce Bulletin, the newest blog from our colleagues at Epstein Becker Green (EBG).

Workforce Bulletin will feature a range of cutting-edge issues—such as sexual harassment, diversity and inclusion, pay equity, artificial intelligence in the workplace, cybersecurity, and the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on human resources—that are of concern to employers across all industries. EBG's full announcement is here.

Click here to subscribe for email notifications—you’ll receive a confirmation email to click.

(And if you haven't ...

Blogs
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It is not unusual for businesses at risk of employee theft to implement security screenings for employees as they exit the employer’s facilities.  Such screenings are especially common in industries where small, costly items could easily be slipped into a pocket or handbag – jewelry, smartphones, computer chips, etc.

In light of the California Supreme Court’s decision in Frlekin v. Apple, Inc., those security screenings now seem likely to lead to even more litigation wherein employees claim that they were not paid for their time spent waiting to be screened, at least in ...

Blogs
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It’s no secret that many employers have employees sign arbitration agreements with class and collective action waivers in the hopes of avoiding the massive wage-hour lawsuits that have become so prevalent in the past two decades.

Nor is it any secret that, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems affirming that such agreements can be valid, even more employers have chosen to use them with their workforces.

But, in discussing with clients whether to implement such agreements, lawyers worth their salt have always told their clients this: “Be careful what you ...

Blogs
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As we recently wrote here, Uber and Postmates (and two of their drivers) to file an eleventh-hour lawsuit seeking to enjoin the enforcement of California’s controversial new independent contractor law – known as AB 5 – against them.

In a significant blow to the challenge to the companies’ challenge to the new law, the court has denied Uber and Postmates’ request for a preliminary injunction to block the enforcement of AB 5 against them.

In denying the request for a preliminary injunction, the court concluded that Uber and Postmates were not likely to succeed on the merits of ...

Blogs
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As previously discussed, Colorado has taken steps to increase the salary threshold for employees that fall under the “white collar” exemptions, following in the footsteps of Alaska, California, New York, Maine, and Washington State – and the federal Department of Labor. On January 22, 2020, the Colorado Department of Labor adopted the final Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order #36 (“COMPS Order”), which makes significant changes for both exempt and non-exempt employees. Most provisions become effective March 16, 2020, with the exception of the ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

The California Legislature’s attempt to circumvent both the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) and the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Epic Systems by crafting a new law prohibiting California employers from requiring employees to enter into arbitration agreements is off to a rocky start in the courts, to say the least.

As discussed below, a federal court has issued a preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of California’s controversial new anti-arbitration statute known as AB 51.  Barring some new development, it now appears clear that the statute cannot be ...

Blogs
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As we have written here, the day before California’s controversial AB 5 was set to go into effect, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez issued a temporary restraining order to block enforcement of the law as to approximately 70,000 independent truckers.

Subsequently, Judge Benitez granted a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of the statute to those truckers.

In reaching his decision, Judge Benitez concluded that, as to independent truckers, the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act preempts AB 5.

The preliminary injunction is a significant ...

Blogs
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As we recently wrote here, just hours before California’s controversial AB 5 went into effect, a federal court in San Diego issued a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) to enjoin enforcement of the independent contractor statute as to approximately 70,000 independent truckers, many of whom have invested substantial sums of money to purchase their own trucks and to work as “owner-operators.”

Now, days after a state court judge ruled that the statute does not apply to independent truckers, the federal court has extended the TRO while it decides whether to enter a ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

As we recently wrote here, on December 29, 2019, just days before California’s new arbitration statute known as AB 51 was to go into effect, a federal judge in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of California granted a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) to enjoin enforcement of AB 51.

The new law, which was set to go into effect on January 1, 2020, would outlaw mandatory arbitration agreements with employees.

AB 51 would also prohibit arbitration agreements that would require individuals to take affirmative action to be excluded from arbitration, such ...

Blogs
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Following the challenges to AB 5, California’s controversial new independent contractor law, can be a difficult endeavor.  Every day seems to bring a new development.

We have written before about the hasty passage of the statute, about a ballot initiative to escape the scope of the law by ride-share and delivery companies, and challenges by independent truckers, freelance journalists and photographers, and ride-share and delivery companies.

While many were focused on whether a federal judge, who had already issued a temporary restraining order to enjoin enforcement of the new ...

Blogs
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As we wrote here recently, organizations representing freelance journalists and photographers filed suit seeking to enjoin enforcement of California’s controversial independent contractor statute, AB 5, as to them.

While they are not the only ones challenging the new law, their suit is not off to a promising start.

While a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) to enjoin AB 5 as it applies to independent truckers,  U.S. District Court Judge Philip Gutierrez in Los Angeles denied the freelance journalists and photographers’ request for a TRO on January ...

Blogs
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With the start of the New Year, new state and local minimum wage increases have gone into effect for non-exempt employees across the country.

The chart below summarizes the new minimum wage rates that went into effect on January 1, 2020, unless otherwise indicated.  (More will take effect July 1, 2020.)

Jurisdiction Current Minimum Wage New Minimum Wage
Alaska $9.89 $10.19
Albuquerque NM (No Benefits) $9.20 $9.35
Albuquerque NM (Benefits) $8.20 $8.35
Arizona $11.00 $12.00
Arkansas $9.25 $10.00
Belmont CA $13.50 $15.00
California (≥ 26 employees) $12.00 $13.00
California ...
Blogs
Clock 5 minute read

As previously discussed, the federal Department of Labor has begun the process of increasing the minimum salary threshold for employees that fall under the “white collar” exemptions. Joining Alaska, New York, and California, Washington State and Maine have now approved higher salary thresholds for employees that fall under the exemptions; Colorado is expected to follow in early 2020.

Effective July 1, 2020, Washington employers will be required to pay a higher salary to satisfy the professional, administrative, and executive exemptions, with gradual increases from July ...

Blogs
Clock less than a minute

It seems as though there is a minefield that employers must navigate to ensure that they fulfill their wage and hour obligations to their employees. Employers must somehow comply with overlapping and seemingly contradictory federal, state, district, county, and local requirements. The wave of civil actions that are filed against employers alleging wage and hour violations is not slowing. And given the potential financial consequences for non-compliance, illustrated in part by a $102 million award for technical paystub violations, meeting these requirements must be a ...

Blogs
Clock 3 minute read

On November 26, 2019, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard B. Ulmer ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) might not apply to Uber drivers who are engaged in interstate commerce while driving passengers to or from international airports.

In his claims before the Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement (“DLSE”), driver Sangam Patel (“Patel”) seeks recovery of unpaid wages, overtime pay, vacation pay, meal and rest break premiums, and unpaid business expenses allegedly owed by Uber. Uber petitioned to compel arbitration of Patel’s (“Patel” ...

Blogs
Clock 4 minute read

Upsetting what many considered settled precedent, a California Court of Appeal has held that a mandatory service charge may qualify as a “gratuity” under California Labor Code Section 351 that must be distributed to the non-managerial employee(s) who provided the service.

In O’Grady v. Merchant Exchange Productions, Inc., No. A148513, plaintiff, a banquet server and bartender, filed a putative class action against their employer for its failure to distribute the entirety of the proceeds of an automatic 21% fee added to every food and beverage banquet bill to the ...

Blogs
Clock 2 minute read

As we wrote here recently, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill known as AB5, which is designed to make it more difficult for companies to treat workers as independent contractors.  The new law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2020, codified and expands the “ABC” test adopted by the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court for determining whether workers in California should be classified as employees or as independent contractors.

Now some gig economy businesses are striking back.  On October 29, 2019, a coalition of ...

Blogs
Clock 6 minute read

In the fall of 2016, before the Obama administration increases to the minimum salary were set to go into effect (spoiler alert – they didn’t!), we wrote in this space about the challenges facing employers in addressing those expected changes: “Compliance with the New DOL Overtime Exemption Rule May Create Unexpected Challenges for Employers.

As we wrote earlier this week, the current administration’s changes are set to go into effect on January 1, 2020: “U.S. Department of Labor Issues Long-Awaited Final Rule Updating the Compensation Requirements for the FLSA’s ...

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