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”).
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
On May 28, 2021, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals delivered a win to Walmart in a lawsuit brought by Roderick Magadia (“Magadia”) alleging violations of California’s wage statement and meal break laws.
The Ninth Circuit overturned a $102 million dollar judgment issued by United States District Judge Lucy H. Koh – comprised of $48 million in statutory damages and $54 million in civil penalties under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”). It did so because it found that Magadia lacked Article III standing because he could not establish that he suffered ...
In response to the increased use and enforcement of class and collective action waivers, plaintiffs’ attorneys are now relying on a new strategy to gain leverage over businesses. More specifically, they have started to commence mass arbitrations by simultaneously filing hundreds—and in some cases, thousands—of individual arbitration demands in an effort to trigger a business’ obligation to pay its share of filing fees for the arbitrations.
Depending on the number of arbitration demands at issue, the filing fees alone can add up to tens of millions of dollars.
Many employers with operations in California may already be familiar with Frlekin v. Apple, Inc. The heavily litigated case, first filed in 2013, involves claims that Apple retail employees are entitled to compensation for time spent waiting for and undergoing mandatory exit searches.
The Ninth Circuit has now concluded that those employees are entitled to be paid for that time, holding that they are entitled to an award of summary judgment in their favor. That is a far cry from the original 2015 ruling in the case in which United States District Court Judge William Alsup denied the ...
Given the ever-increasing number of wage-hour class and collective actions being filed against employers, it is no surprise that many employers have turned to arbitration agreements with class and collective action waivers as a first line of defense, particularly after the United States Supreme Court’s landmark 2018 Epic Systems v. Lewis decision.
If there is a common misconception about Epic Systems, however, it is that the Supreme Court concluded that all arbitration agreements with all employees are enforceable under all circumstances. The Court reached no such ...
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 ...
As we have previously written, the California Supreme Court’s decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court dramatically changed the standard for determining whether workers in California should be classified as employees or as independent contractors for purposes of the wage orders adopted by California’s Industrial Welfare Commission. A significant question left open by that ruling was whether Dynamex would apply retroactively.
On May 2, 2019, in Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc., the Ninth Circuit concluded that Dynamex in ...
In April 2018, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, dramatically changing the standard for determining whether workers in California should be classified as employees or as independent contractors for purposes of the wage orders adopted by California’s Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”). In so doing, the Court held that there is a presumption that individuals are employees, and that an entity classifying an individual as an independent contractor bears the burden of ...
For more than 70 years, the Supreme Court has construed exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) narrowly. In A.H. Phillips, Inc. v. Walling, for example, the Court stated that “[t]o extend an exemption to other than those plainly and unmistakably within its terms and spirit is to abuse the interpretative process and to frustrate the announced will of the people.” 324 U.S. 490, 493 (1945). The Supreme Court has restated this rule many times in the intervening years, and the lower courts have followed, citing this principle in virtually every significant case ...
One of the top stories featured on Employment Law This Week: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reaffirms an employer’s time-rounding practice. A call-center employee in California recently brought a class action lawsuit against his employer for time-rounding practices. The employee claims that the policy caused him to be underpaid by a total of $15 over 13 months. Relying on a California Court of Appeals precedent, the Ninth Circuit found that the company’s facially neutral rounding policy—one that rounds time both up and down—is legal under California ...
On May 2, 2016, the Ninth Circuit issued a published opinion in Corbin v. Time Warner Entertainment-Advance/Newhouse Partnership. The Corbin Court best summarized the action in its opening sentence: “This case turns on $15.02 and one minute.” The “$15.02” represented the wages the plaintiff claimed he lost over a period of time as a result of the company’s neutral time-rounding policy. And the “one minute” represented the amount of off-the-clock time that the plaintiff worked, which the Court held was de minimis and, therefore, not compensable.
Federal and ...
In a great many wage-hour complaints alleging unpaid overtime or failure to pay minimum wage, plaintiffs will bring suit without identifying any specific instances in which the plaintiffs ever worked unpaid overtime or worked for a period of time without being paid at least the minimum wage. The absence of such basic facts plagues many class action and collective action complaints, in particular. The Ninth Circuit’s recent opinion in Landers v Quality Communications rejects the notion that plaintiffs can survive a motion to dismiss by relying on cookie-cutter allegations. ...
by Michael Kun and Kathryn McGuigan
In recent years, the alleged misclassification of employees under California's wage and hour laws has been a hotly contested issue and the subject of a great many class actions. Faced with several appeals pending before it, the Ninth Circuit has now sought guidance from the California Supreme Court on the outside salesperson and administrative exemption tests as they apply to pharmaceutical sales representatives. Such guidance should prove invaluable to employers in the industry, and to parties to these claims.
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