Starting January 1, 2020, California employees will have three times as long to file charges alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation. The new statute of limitations arises from AB 9, which increases the statute of limitations for filing a charge under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) from 1 year to 3 years. AB 9 is certain to have a significant impact on employers in the years that follow, but employers can mitigate the potential burden of this statute by understanding the new law and how to prepare for it. Below is some background and helpful tips for employers. READ MORE
Gary, Senior Counsel and Co-Chair of Orrick's EEO & OFCCP Compliance Group, is a “zealous and well-connected advocate in the employment law arena” as described in Chambers by clients and peers. He has extensive experience in counseling and litigation defense for clients on equal opportunity, affirmative action (OFCCP) compliance, wrongful discharge, and in working with companies on cross-border employment issues.
Gary has handled numerous class actions, pattern and practice cases and government audits, in court and before the EEOC and Department of Labor. Most recently, Gary served as senior counsel on the Orrick team that obtained a complete dismissal for Oracle in OFCCP v. Oracle, a high-stakes systemic compensation discrimination case that garnered national media attention. Gary and the Orrick team was named "Litigator of the Week" by American Lawyer for their role in the successful defense of Oracle in litigation against the OFCCP. He brings a particularly unique perspective to clients on matters involving the EEOC, having served as regional counsel and senior trial attorney for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in San Francisco prior to joining Orrick.
Gary also has an extensive class actions practice, focusing on litigation, consent decree strategies and preventive advice. He has been designated as an expert or retained as special counsel in several federal court class actions throughout the United States.
Gary’s counseling practice extends beyond the United States and includes assisting U.S. multinational companies in dealing with complex employee issues in foreign jurisdictions
Gary is widely recognized as one the top management employment lawyers in the United States by every major ranking organization, including Chambers USA, the National Law Journal, Best of the Best USA (Euromoney), and Who’s Who Legal. Among management employment lawyers in the United States and Europe, Gary is ranked in the top 10 of Who’s Who international management labor and employment lawyers and is described as “absolutely superb.”
Gary also serves regularly on the NYU faculty for training federal judges on employment law, the OFCCP Institute, PLI International Employment Law and ABA Labor and Employment Law Section programs.
Posts by: Gary Siniscalco
On June 3, 2019, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, resolving a circuit split regarding whether Title VII’s charge-filing requirement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), or equivalent state agency, is jurisdictional. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Title VII’s charge-filing instruction is not jurisdictional; rather, it is a procedural prescription which is mandatory if timely raised, but subject to forfeiture if tardily asserted. READ MORE
San Francisco recently added significant teeth to its “Fair Chance” ordinance, which is designed to give applicants who have criminal histories a chance to get their foot in the door without being automatically disqualified.
This is the next step in the “ban the box” movement, for which several cities, counties and states have passed laws restricting employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal background. The term “ban the box” refers to questions on an employment application that ask a job applicant about past convictions. Proponents of “ban the box” laws argue they will help remove unfair employment barriers to job applicants with criminal histories.
In California, San Francisco and Los Angeles have instituted “Fair Chance” ordinances that require employers to state on their job postings that an arrest or conviction will not automatically disqualify a qualified application from consideration from employment. Recent amendments to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance went into effect on October 1, 2018. These amendments:
- Expand the scope of the law to cover any employer with 5 or more employees. Previously, the law covered employers with 20 or more employees.
- Prohibit employers from inquiring about a person’s criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.
- Prohibit employers from considering any convictions for decriminalized behavior (e.g., marijuana related convictions). Previously, the law had allowed such inquiries for convictions that were seven years old or less.
- Increase penalties for non-compliance from a per-violation maximum of $100 to $2,000.
- Direct that penalties must be paid directly to affected employees. Penalties were previously paid to the City.
- Creates a new private right of action for any employee or applicant whose rights have been violated. Previously only the City Attorney could sue to enforce the law.
- Requires that covered employers display a new poster in the workplaces as of October 1, 2018.
In addition to fair chance ordinances like San Francisco’s, California employers must also be mindful of other recent legislation that will have an impact on the hiring process, including state-wide legislation enacted in July 2018 that prohibits employers from inquiring into the salary history of their applicants. More on that here.
As always, employers are well advised to reach out to Orrick counsel for assistance navigating this complex area of law.
In a highly anticipated move, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued its new compensation directive on August 24, 2018. Directive (DIR) 2018-05, Analysis of Contractor Compensation Practices During a Compliance Evaluation, replaces the Obama-era compensation guidance DIR 2013-03, Procedures for Reviewing Contractor Compensation Systems and Practices (referred to as Directive 307). OFCCP also included a list of 22 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with DIR 2018-05. READ MORE
Just days after reconvening its Select Task Force on Harassment with a public meeting titled “Transforming #MeToo Into Harassment-Free Workplaces,” the EEOC marched into seven different federal district courts, from Los Angeles, California to Mobile, Alabama and in between, and said “#MeToo.”
In a statement about the meeting, EEOC Commissioner Chai R. Feldblum remarked that the challenge for the EEOC “is to use this #MeToo moment well”, observing that the EEOC had “the attention and commitment of the range of different actors in society that we need … [to] channel that energy to create significant and sustainable change.”
So what does this change look like? And what should employers be mindful of as they try to achieve compliance and reduce litigation risk? READ MORE
On February 26, 2018, the Second Circuit, in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., No. 15-3775, 2018 WL 1040820 (2d Cir. Feb. 26, 2018), held that sexual orientation discrimination is actionable sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”). In doing so, the Court became the second federal appellate court to recognize such an action, joining the Seventh Circuit 7th circuit. Hively v. Ivy Tech Cmty. Coll. of Indiana, 853 F.3d 339 (7th Cir. 2017). This decision serves to ensure a growing split in the circuits that may well see a test before the United States Supreme Court. READ MORE
On July 24, 2017, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a federal district court’s approval for a class of roughly 69,000 women claiming that Sterling Jewelers, Inc. (“Sterling”) discriminated against them based on sex. The decision overturned a district court ruling that affirmed an arbitrator’s decision to let the women proceed to trial as a class in an arbitration.
Plaintiffs initially filed a class action lawsuit in March 2008, alleging that Sterling’s practices and policies led to women being deliberately passed over for promotions and paid them less than their male cohorts. The case was sent to arbitration several months later under Sterling’s arbitration clause.
In 2009, an arbitrator ruled that Sterling’s dispute resolution program did not specifically bar class actions and allowed claimants to seek class status. From there, the case took a number of twists and turns, which we reported on more fully at the time here.
In June 2013, the employees moved for class certification. In February 2015, the arbitrator ruled that that the employees could proceed as a class in the arbitration. In November 2015, the district court affirmed the arbitrator’s decision concluding that the arbitrator did not exceed her authority by certifying a class that included absent class members i.e., employees other than the named plaintiffs and those who have opted into the class. Sterling appealed. READ MORE
Recently, in McLane Co., Inc. v. EEOC, case number 15-1248 , the United States Supreme Court clarified the standard for when an appellate court reviews a trial court’s order to enforce or quash a subpoena from the EEOC. Vacating a Ninth Circuit decision applying a de novo standard of review, the Court ruled that appellate courts should review based on the abuse of discretion standard. READ MORE
This past March, we blogged about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bouaphakeo v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 136 S. Ct. 1036 (2016), a case in which the plaintiffs alleged that Tyson Foods improperly denied compensation for time spent putting on and taking off required protective gear at a pork processing facility. At trial, the plaintiffs presented experts who, based on sample data, determined the average number of minutes employees likely spent donning and doffing and the aggregate damages that would be owed to the class as a result.
Earlier this year, we predicted that the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance (“OFCCP”) would ramp up investigations directed at rooting out alleged discrimination by information technology companies. Many tech companies have indeed been the focus of increasingly intense and acrimonious investigations in 2016.
OFCCP took its enforcement efforts to the next level this week by filing a formal administrative complaint for violations of Executive Order 11246 (which prohibits discrimination by federal contractors). The complaint alleges that Palantir Technologies – a private software company headquartered in Palo Alto and recently valued at $20 billion – discriminated against Asian applicants for three positions (QA Engineer, Software Engineer, and QA Engineer Intern). Specifically, the OFCCP alleges that the company hired largely based on an employee referral system that resulted in statistically significant underrepresentation of Asian hires, given that the vast majority of applicants for these jobs were Asian. The complaint seeks to debar the company from future federal contracts and require “complete relief” for Asian applicants for these roles, including lost compensation, hiring, and retroactive seniority.