De Minimis Defense Closes Shop on Starbucks Barista’s Off-the-Clock Claim in the Central District of California

On March 7, 2014, Judge Feess of the Central District of California granted Defendant Starbucks’ motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s proposed class claims for unpaid wages under the California Labor Code. Plaintiff alleged that Starbucks failed to pay him for the brief time he spent closing the store after he clocked out at the end of every closing shift. His alleged off-the-clock closing duties included closing out of the store’s computer system, activating the alarm, walking out of store, locking the door, walking employees to their cars and staying with co-workers when they waited for rides. He also occasionally moved the store’s patio furniture inside and reopened the store for an employee who forgot personal belonging in the store. Read More

Paid in Singles for a Shot at the Big Leagues: Former Minor Leaguers Sue MLB for Wage-and-Hour Violations

Spring training is just around the corner and major leaguers have already reported to their first workout. Meanwhile, an interesting development–three former minor leaguers have filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, and three MLB teams, claiming that the MLB has failed to pay overtime and minimum wages in violation of the FLSA and various state labor laws. According to the plaintiffs, the MLB “has a long, infamous history of labor exploitation dating to its inception” by hoarding players, depressing salaries, and preventing unionization of the minor leagues. See Complaint, Senne v. MLB, No. 3:14-cv-00608-JCS (N.D. Cal. Feb. 7, 2014), ECF No. 1. The case is presently before Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero. Read More

A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Not So Much, For California Employers: Two New Employee-Friendly Bills Are Signed by Governor Brown

Even in the summer months, the California legislature is busy changing the laws that affect the state’s employers. This summer, California’s governor signed into law two bills that should be of interest to all employers—one amending the definition of sexual harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and the other amending a provision of the California Labor relating to the award of attorneys‘ fees and costs in actions for the non-payment of wages. Read More

Rule 23(b) or Not to Be: Wang v. Chinese News the Ninth Circuit’s Latest Decision to Reevaluate Certification after Wal-Mart

The Ninth Circuit’s recent decision in Wang v. Chinese Daily News is the latest to affirm that Wal-Mart v. Dukes is controlling in wage-and-hour class action cases.  Read More

California Computer Software Employee Overtime Exemption Rate to Increase 2.6% on January 1

The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) released its 2013 hourly rate and minimum salary requirement adjustment for exempt computer software employees. Beginning January 1, 2013, the minimum hourly rate of pay will increase to $39.90 to qualify for exemption, the minimum monthly salary will increase to $6,927.75, and the annual minimum salary will increase to $83,132.93. The 2.6 percent increase is based upon the California Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers pursuant to California Labor Code § 515.5(a)(4).

In addition to the salary requirements, computer software employees must meet the remaining criteria set forth under Labor Code § 515.5 in order to be exempted from state overtime requirements.

Governor Brown Signs Amendments to California Labor Code

On Sunday, September 30, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2674, Assembly Bill 1744, and Senate Bill 1255 into law, thereby amending California Labor Code sections 226, 1198.5, and 2810.5, and adding section 226.1 to the Labor Code. The changes go into effect on January 1, 2013. Read More

CA Court Holds Employment Arbitration Agreement Waiving Class and Representative Actions Enforceable

In Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, (Cal. Ct. App. June 4, 2012), the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District affirmed a decision to compel individual arbitration of wage-and-hour claims pursuant to an employment agreement that contained class and representative action waivers, holding that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion was controlling. Read More

California Supreme Court Concludes No Attorney’s Fees For Meal and Rest Break Suits

California’s highest court held that a party who prevails on a claim for an alleged failure to provide meal or rest breaks is not entitled to attorney’s fees under either Section 1194 or Section 218.5 of the California Labor Code. Kirby v. Immoos Fire Protection, Inc., Cal. Sup. Ct. S185827 (April 30, 2012). Section 1194 is a “one-way fee-shifting statute” that authorizes an award for attorney’s fees only to employees who prevail on minimum wage or overtime claims. By contrast, Section 218.5 is a “two-way fee-shifting statute” that authorizes either an employee or an employer to recover attorney’s fees as a prevailing party in an action brought for the nonpayment of wages.

The court concluded that neither of those sections is applicable to claims for unpaid meal or rest breaks as such claims do not fit under the terms “minimum wage” or “overtime” specified in Section 1194, or the terms “nonpayment of wages” used in Section 218.5. Thus, employers cannot recover attorney’s fees for failed meal and rest break actions. On the other hand, neither can employees. Reading this decision in the context of the California Supreme Court’s April 12, 2012 Brinker decision, plaintiffs’ lawyers may be more cautious as to which meal and rest break claims they pursue as they will not be entitled to recover attorney’s fees as a result of those in which they prevail.

Credit Checks & Employment Discrimination—State Legislatures and the EEOC Take Action

Faced with the current uncertain economic climate and concerns regarding the plight of the unemployed, several state legislatures have recently passed or introduced bills restricting employers and prospective employers from using credit checks in hiring and personnel decisions. For example, on October 12, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 22 into law, creating California Labor Code section 1024.5, which prohibits California employers from using a consumer credit report for employment purposes except in limited circumstances. In passing this law, California joined six other states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington) in recently enacting laws restricting the use of credit checks in employment decisions. And the trend is expected to continue. As of February 13, 2012, 36 bills in 19 states and the District of Columbia have been introduced or are pending concerning the use of credit information in employment decisions.  Click here for a list of the bills. Read More