Julia Riechert loves to win and help companies in all things employment. She is an employment partner in the Silicon Valley office.
The Recorder has named Orrick’s employment law group the California Labor & Employment Department of the Year since 2013. Julia and Lynne Hermle also won the 2017 California Lawyer of the Year award in Labor and Employment from California Lawyer for their defense verdict for SpaceX in a high profile sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation and disability case. The Daily Journal also named their two jury trial wins for SpaceX as top verdicts in 2016 and 2017.
Julia defends companies in class action, representative action and individual wage-and-hour lawsuits under California and federal law, including claims of misclassification and for unpaid wages, off-the-clock work, meal and rest break penalties, expense reimbursement and vacation pay. Julia has successfully defeated class certification for employers in the retail and technology industries. Julia has expertise in defending against independent contractor misclassification and joint employment claims. Julia also defends companies and individual defendants in single plaintiff and multi-plaintiff lawsuits under California and federal law in cases involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, disability and leave claims. She also handles government agency charges and government audits, and has helped countless clients resolve pre-litigation matters arising from employment terminations and other complex workplace disputes, including #metoo allegations.
Julia provides employment counseling and strategic advice to small, medium and large companies on a variety of employment issues, including responding to employee complaints, reductions in force, terminations, compensation practices, performance management, independent contractor classification, joint employment and policy implementation. She also has extensive experience counseling clients on investigations regarding workplace complaints. Additionally, she provides company training, including California's mandatory sexual harassment training course and management best practices.
You may be asking yourself: How is it already almost 2019?! With the New Year fast approaching, for those employment law enthusiasts out there, here are some legal issues that you want to keep in mind as you look back on 2018 and forward to 2019:
Year-End Bonuses: Employers distributing holiday bonuses, holiday gift cards, year-end merit bonuses, and other types of compensation to nonexempt employees should consider whether the compensation must be included in a nonexempt employee’s “regular rate” of pay when calculating overtime. The Code of Federal Regulations carves out some specific types of pay that need not be included in an employee’s regular rate of pay. For example, Section 778.211 excludes purely discretionary bonuses and section 778.212 excludes gifts for Christmas and other special occasions. So, an employer giving employees gift cards for the holidays or other special occasions is not required to incorporate the value of those gift cards into an employee’s regular rate of pay as long as the amounts “are not measured by or dependent on hours worked, production, or efficiency.” See 29 C.F.R. § 778.212(a); 29 U.S.C.A. § 207.
With a new Republican majority in the NLRB, the rules may be changing (again) when it comes to company emails. The NLRB is in the process of re-analyzing when and how employers can restrict employees’ company email use without running afoul of NLRA Section 7, and may begin upholding employer policies with facially neutral restrictions on company email and computer usage again in the near future.
A bit of background: Section 7 of the NLRA protects an employee’s right to engage in “concerted activities,” which occurs “when two or more employees take action for their mutual aid or protection regarding terms and conditions of employment.” The NLRA’s protection of “concerted activities” is a broader concept than “union activities” and covers many different activities, including employee discussions about pay, work conditions, and safety concerns. The NLRB has construed the terms “concerted” and “protected” very broadly and vaguely, to include any activity aimed at affecting employee interests.
As has been widely reported, last month the California Supreme Court issued a decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles that rejected the long-standing, multi-factor test to determine whether a worker is an employee. The Dynamex decision established a three-factor “ABC” test that, on its face, places the entire burden of showing that a worker is not an employee squarely upon the hiring party. The ABC test asks whether:
- The worker is free from the direction and control of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of such work and in fact;
- The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and
- The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.
On April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. The Court announced a significant departure from the S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations, 48 Cal. 3d 341 (1989) test, previously used by California courts and state agencies for nearly three decades for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor under the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) wage orders. In its place, the Court adopted the so-called “ABC” test for determining whether an individual is considered an employee under the wage orders, which govern many aspects of wages and working conditions in covered industries. READ MORE
Just the other week, in Jones v. Royal Admin. Servs., the Ninth Circuit reaffirmed the federal common law standard for distinguishing agents from independent contractors and upheld the independent contractor status of telemarketers providing direct sales services for a company, Royal Administration Services, Inc. (“Royal”).
At issue were telemarketers employed by All American Auto Protection, Inc. (“AAAP”), one of about twenty marketing vendors used by Royal to sell vehicle service contracts. Several recipients of these telemarketing calls filed suit, first against AAAP and then against Royal, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). The telemarketing call recipients alleged that Royal was vicariously liable because the AAAP telemarketers were Royal’s agents. Royal filed for summary judgment, asserting that the AAAP telemarketers were not its agents, but rather independent contractors. The district court granted summary judgment for Royal. 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.
Staying true to form, earlier this month San Francisco passed the nation’s first fully-paid parental leave law known as the Paid Parental Leave for Bonding with New Child Ordinance (“Paid Parental Leave Ordinance”). California’s Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) program currently provides six weeks of partially-paid leave at 55 percent of an employee’s pay, up to $1,129 per week. The Paid Parental Leave Ordinance mandates that employers pay the difference up to a weekly maximum, meaning most employees will receive six weeks of bonding leave at full pay. Unlike PFL, which is funded through employee contributions to state disability insurance, benefits under the Paid Parental Leave Ordinance are employer-funded.
The proliferation of paid sick leave (PSL) laws has been well-documented in the last few years. California’s PSL statute has received particular attention in this blog, but Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oregon have also adopted similar state-wide legislation. And it is not just the states that are rolling out requirements for PSL; dozens of cities and counties have also adopted PSL ordinances (oftentimes in states that already have similar laws in place). Major municipal adopters include New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Newark, and Philadelphia.
The California legislature played an active role in 2015 by enacting new rules and amendments in many employment areas. The following covers some of the key highlights, some of which became effective on January 1, 2016.
Baseball season is well underway as fans fill themselves up on hot dogs and beers, don their rally caps for some late-inning luck, and cheer for their favorite players. Meanwhile, a class action against Major League Baseball by former minor league players has been trotting through federal court. In Senne v. MLB, No. 3:14-cv-00608-JCS (N.D. Cal. Feb. 7, 2014), ECF No. 1, the plaintiffs cry foul in alleging that “paying their dues” on the way to the big leagues isn’t paying the bills. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that MLB and all 30 of its teams have violated the FLSA by not paying the minor leaguers overtime and minimum wage.