Following the California Supreme Court’s remand of Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc., the California Court of Appeal in that same case held that the defendant-employer had not committed “knowing and intentional” violations of the wage statement statute by not including meal period premiums on the wage statements and had not “willfully” paid all wages due at the end of employment by not previously paying meal period premiums that were owed. The Court held that, although the employer did not prevail on its defense that employees in a certified class action were subject to valid on-duty meal period agreements, neither waiting time penalties (capped at 30 days’ of wages at the daily rate of pay for each former employee) nor wage statement penalties (capped at $4,000 per employee) could be imposed against the employer given the good faith dispute that any meal period premiums were owed.
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.
Over the past six months, Congress has made two notable attempts to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (the “FLSA”). In July, U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) introduced The Modern Worker Empowerment Act (“MWEA”) with the stated aim of harmonizing the FLSA’s definition of employee with the common law. And last month, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Treating Workers with Dignity Act of 2019 (“TWDA”), which would amend the FLSA to require certain compensated breaks.
Modern Worker Empowerment Act
Subject to certain exclusions, the FLSA ...
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 ...
Given the prevalence of wage-hour class actions filed against California employers, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from time to time asks the California Supreme Court to clarify certain California wage-hour laws. Last week, the Ninth Circuit asked again in Cole v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc., seeking clarification on the following two questions:
- Does the absence of a formal policy on meal and rest breaks violate California law?
- Does an employer’s failure to keep records of meal and rest breaks taken by employees create a rebuttable presumption that the breaks were not provided?
More than seven 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. Nothing the California Supreme Court said has slowed the filing of meal and rest period class actions against employers doing business in the state.
California wage-hour law is governed in large part by 18 different wage orders that apply to different industries and occupations. “The number of wage orders, and their internal variations, reflects the reality that differing aspects of work ...
On August 13, 2018, in Ehret v. WinCo Foods, the California Court of Appeal held that a provision in a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) regarding employees’ meal periods during shifts lasting between five and six hours effectively waived employees’ rights under California Labor Code section 512. In so holding, the Court held that the waiver in question passed the “clear and unmistakable” standard used to determine whether a provision in a CBA is intended to waive a statutorily protected right. Although WinCo argued that the “clear and unmistakable” ...
On October 14, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1701, which will make general contractors liable for their subcontractors’ employees’ unpaid wages if the subcontractor fails to pay wages due. The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2018.
Specifically, section 218.7 has been added to the Labor Code. Subdivision (a)(1) provides the following:
For contracts entered into on or after January 1, 2018, a direct contractor making or taking a contract in the state for the erection, construction, alteration, or repair of a building, structure, or other ...
As if traffic in California was not bad enough by itself, employers in the trucking industry have one more thing to worry about – whether they are complying with California’s meal and rest break laws. In Dilts v. Penske Logistics, LLC, the plaintiffs represent a class of delivery drivers and installers. Defendants had hoped to avoid the claim that they had violated California’s meal and rest break laws by arguing that as “motor carriers” the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (“FAAAA”) preempts California’s meal and rest break laws. The trial ...
By Michael Kun
Yesterday, only weeks after its long-awaited Brinker v. Superior Court decision, the California Supreme Court issued another important ruling on California meal and rest period laws.
In Kirby v. Immoos Fire Protection, Inc., the Supreme Court ruled that neither party may recover attorney’s fees on claims involving meal and rest periods. The Court analyzed the legislative history of the meal and rest period provisions and concluded, “We believe the most plausible inference to be drawn from history is that the Legislature intended [meal and rest period] claims to ...
By: Michael Kun
This morning, the California Supreme Court has just issued its long-awaited decision in the Brinker case regarding meal and period requirements. It is largely, but not entirely, a victory for employers. A copy of the decision is here.
A few highlights of the decision:
On rest periods, the Court confirmed the certification of a rest period class because Brinker’s written policy arguably did not comply with the law as to the second rest period in a day. In so doing, it clarified when employees are entitled to rest periods:
· Employees are entitled to 10 minutes’ rest for ...
Plaintiffs seeking to bring state law wage-hour class actions against employers in the trucking industry have run into a significant road block in California. For the second time in a year, a United States District Court has held that claims based on California’s meal and rest period laws are preempted by federal law.
In Esquivel et al. v. Performance Food Group Inc., the plaintiffs claimed the defendant scheduled their delivery routes such that the plaintiffs were unable to take duty-free meal periods. The defendant argued that the Federal Aviation ...
By Michael Kun
It appears that oral argument before the California Supreme Court in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court will be broadcast live on-line on the California Channel on November 8, 2011 at 9 a.m. While it is unlikely this will inspire families to gather around their computers as they gathered around their radios to listen to breaking news decades ago, more than a few employers with operations in California may want to listen to this oral argument on a critical issue that affects all such employers – whether employee meal and rest breaks must be “ensured” or merely ...
By Michael Kun
Some were beginning to wonder whether it would ever happen. After more than two years, the California Supreme Court has announced a hearing date in the much-awaited Brinker v. Superior Court case -- November 8, 2011.
Unless the Court takes a detour, California employers should finally know the answer to a question that has long driven California's billion dollar wage-hour class action industry -- must an employer "ensure" that employers take meal and rest periods, or are they only required to make them "available" to employees.
Should the Supreme Court rule that ...
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