Jessica James, an attorney in the Sacramento office, has experience in defending a broad range of employment issues, including claims of harassment, wrongful discharge, misclassification and systemic discrimination investigations.
involves employment litigation on a variety of legal issues, including
defense of class action and single-plaintiff claims
of discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, misclassification,
and other wage-and-hour violations. She also has experience in defending and advising
industry leaders regarding pay equity and compensation analysis
in response to civil litigation, OFCCP and EEOC investigations, and other claims of systemic discrimination.
Jessica regularly counsel clients on a variety of employment-related issues, including human resources policies and procedures, separation agreements, employee termination, and compliance with various state and federal regulations, including the Equal Pay Act (EPA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN). As part of her counseling role, she frequently conducts training programs for her clients, including trainings on sexual harassment and discrimination prevention. Jessica also has significant experience conducting internal investigations in response to claims of misconduct.
Jessica's experience also
includes business litigation on issues beyond the employment context,
relating to white collar criminal defense, corporate investigations, and complex
Prior to joining Orrick,
Jessica served for two years as a judicial clerk for the Nevada
Supreme Court. She
earned her J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law,
where she was Editor-in-Chief of the McGeorge Law Review and
graduated Order of the Coif. She also served as a
judicial extern for the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District.
In the first federal court in California to issue a rule on classification of gig-economy workers, the Northern District of California recently concluded that restaurant delivery drivers are properly classified as independent contractors instead of employees under California law.
In Lawson v. Grubhub, Inc., No. 15-cv-05128-JSC (N.D. Cal. Feb. 8, 2018), Plaintiff Raef Lawson worked as a restaurant delivery driver for Grubhub for four months in late 2015 and early 2016. Grubhub is part of the growing gig-economy, connecting diners to local restaurants through its internet food ordering app. Lawson brought his claims both in an individual capacity and as a representative action pursuant to the California Private Attorney General Act (PAGA). The critical question before the court was whether Lawson was an employee or an independent contractor. READ MORE
In a trend that is gaining steam across the country, multiple cities and states have, or are considering adopting, laws that impose conditions and penalties on employer scheduling practices, otherwise known as “scheduling laws.” Although these laws mostly apply to retail and/or fast food employers, the specific language of the law or ordinance should be consulted to determine whether a broader category of employers may be implicated.
Effective January 1, 2018, San Francisco will expand available protections for nursing mothers working within city limits. California law currently requires employers to provide lactating employees with a reasonable amount of break time and to make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with a room, other than a bathroom, in close proximity to the employee’s work area to express milk. Similarly, federal law requires employers to provide a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for one year after the child’s birth in a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public. Signed into law by San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee on June 30, 2017, the “Lactation in the Workplace Ordinance” will expand these requirements for San Francisco employers in the following ways.
Last year, the California Fair Employment and Housing Council proposed new regulations on an employer’s consideration of criminal history in making employment decisions. Those regulations were approved this year by the Office of Administrative Law after a period of public comment and are due to become effective on July 1.
New Clarification on Adverse Impact Claims READ MORE
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has created a flurry of class action complaints in recent years aimed at employers who fail to comply with the FCRA’s hyper-technical disclosure and consent requirements. However, a new class action against UPS reminds us that traditional FCRA claims have not faded away and employers should remain mindful of the Act’s requirements. READ MORE
California’s resistance to the longstanding federal policy favoring arbitration frequently results in public expressions of frustration by the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. In over five years since the Supreme Court’s broad directives in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333 (2011), recent California decisions, including our recent coverage of the California Supreme Court’s holding in Sandquist v. Lebo, Case No. S220812, 2016 WL 4045008 (Cal. July 28, 2016), suggest that the state’s stubbornness may be waning, at least for the time being. The following summarizes key decisions that diverge from California’s traditional resistance to arbitration and which every employer should have in their arsenal of tools.
Paid sick leave is on the rise, as we reported here, here, here, and here. As we approach the one-year compliance anniversary for state-mandated paid sick leave, employers now face additional compliance wrinkles in the Los Angeles and San Diego markets. Earlier this month, both Los Angeles and San Diego passed paid sick leave and minimum wage ordinances that take effect (and require compliance) as soon July 2016.
On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in the closely watched case Spokeo, Inc. v. Thomas Robins et al., addressing the issue of standing under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The Court held that in order to establish standing to sue, plaintiffs must show “an invasion of a legally protected interest” that is both “particularized and concrete.” In doing so, the Court vacated the Ninth Circuit’s prior holding that a consumer has standing under Article III to bring an action for statutory violations without alleging actual injury. See Spokeo Inc. v. Thomas Robins et al., case number 13-1339.
Spokeo operates a “people search engine” that provides information on contact data, marital status, age, occupation, and wealth level. In June 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Spokeo for selling consumer profiles to potential employers without fulfilling its reporting obligations under the FCRA. The FTC’s pursuit of Spokeo, a non-traditional consumer reporting agency (CRA), signaled a more expansive application of FCRA provisions at that time, and set the groundwork for a civil action on related claims.
Thomas Robins subsequently brought action against Spokeo, alleging “willful violations” of the FCRA, which he claimed resulted in publication of inaccurate information about his job and wealth level that caused him psychological harm while struggling to find work. The district court dismissed the case, finding that Robins had failed to plead an injury-in-fact that could be traced to Spokeo. In February 2014, the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that a showing of actual harm is not required for willful FCRA violations and that the suit could go forward under Article III without alleging actual injury.
In an issue of first impression, the California Court of Appeals held that employers have a duty under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to provide reasonable accommodations to an applicant or employee who is associated with a disabled person, even if the employee is not disabled. Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, Inc. No. B261165, 2016 Cal. App. LEXIS 255 (Cal. Ct. App. April 4, 2016). This holding confirms that FEHA provides broader protections for employees associated with a disabled person than the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which does not contain the same requirement.
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has recently spawned an unprecedented number of class action complaints against employers for allegedly failing to comply with FCRA’s hyper-technical disclosure and consent requirements before conducting background checks or proceeding with “adverse actions.” As these cases have evolved, plaintiffs have expanded their focus beyond traditional background checks and have started attacking employers’ use of ever-evolving technologies, like social media accounts, that are often accessible and searchable through just a few clicks of a mouse.