California Developments

Will California Be The Next Battlefront For An Onslaught of Whistleblower Claims?

Whistle

Last week, we identified five important questions employers should ask themselves to test whether they are ready for key changes in California law that are coming in 2014. Here, we take a closer look at one of those changes: additional whistleblower protections under Labor Code section 1102.5. READ MORE

California Employers: Test Yourself – Are You Ready for 2014?

Road Signs

If you have employees in California, you are, no doubt, aware that California laws are constantly changing and have a tendency to sneak up on even the best companies. To help prepare you for the year ahead, here are five important questions employers should ask themselves to test whether they are ready for the key changes in 2014: READ MORE

Arbitration Wars: The California Supreme Court Strikes Back In Sonic II

On October 17, 2013, the California Supreme Court revisited the enforceability of arbitration agreements in California. The Court released its decision Sonic-Calabasas Inc. v. Moreno (Sonic II). In that 5 – 2 ruling, the California Supreme Court reversed its prior decision to strike down an arbitration agreement on the ground of FAA preemption, but remanded the case for analysis of the enforceability of the arbitration agreement under an unconscionability analysis.  READ MORE

Who Pays When Employees Crash Their Cars After Hours? It Could Be You….

People Walking

One would think that, under the “going and coming” rule, employers could never be liable for torts committed by their employees during the employees’ commutes. Think again. If employers require employees to use their cars or the employers’ car for work, then employers may be liable for their employees’ car accidents that occur during their commutes. This may also be true when the accident occurs during a side trip to satisfy the employees’ frozen yogurt cravings or attend their yoga classes. In the past month, two California courts have addressed these issues, but reached different results. READ MORE

Governor Brown Expands Paid Family Leave Eligibility, Boosts Minimum Wage, and Grants Overtime to Nannies

California’s Paid Family Leave Now Covers More Kin 

Currently, through California’s Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) insurance program, workers may collect up to six weeks of partial wage replacement benefits while taking leave under the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) or California’s Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, or registered domestic partner, or to bond with a minor child within one year of birth or the placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption. On September 24, 2013, Governor Brown signed SB 770, expanding the PFL program to cover siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and parents in-law. Note, however, that PFL does not provide leave rights. CFRA was not similarly amended and, as with FMLA, only provides protected leave with reinstatement rights when taken to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, or registered domestic partner, or to bond with a minor child within one year of birth or the placement of the child in connection with foster care or adoption (among other things). Thus, employees who take leave to care for a sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or parent in-law, though they may receive partial wage replacement, will not be afforded job protection and reinstatement rights unless provided under an employer plan. READ MORE

Employers Beware: You May be Liable for Your Employees’ Tortious Off-Duty Conduct during Their Commutes

People Walking

In Moradi v. Marsh USA, Inc., the California Court of Appeal concluded that employees who are required to use their personal vehicles to travel to and from the office and make other work-related trips during the day are acting within in the scope of their employment when they are commuting to and from work. READ MORE

Further Down the Rabbit-Hole we go: California’s Troubling Treatment of Incentive-Based Compensation Systems

On July 17, 2013, the California Supreme Court denied review of the Second Appellate District’s decision in Gonzalez v. Downtown LA Motors, 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 257 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. Mar. 6, 2013), which addressed minimum-wage requirements for piece-rate workers. The Court of Appeal held that the employer had to pay a separate hourly rate of at least minimum wage during work time when piece-rate employees are engaged in compensable activity that does not directly produce piece-rates.  READ MORE

Required Extension of Statutory Pregnancy Leave as a Reasonable Accommodation

Calendar and Pushpin

In a case of first impression, the Second Appellate District in California, recently took an expansive view of pregnancy leave rights for employees. Under California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (“PDLL”), employees disabled by pregnancy are entitled to up to four months of job-protected leave. Under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”), employees may take leave up to 12 weeks for baby bonding. CFRA, however, does not include pregnancy disability as a “serious health condition,” which means that employees cannot begin to use their CFRA leave until after the child is born. Pregnant employees who need additional leave beyond the four months provided by the PDLL, but before their CFRA leave begins, are now explicitly protected by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). READ MORE

California Supreme Court Eliminates Damages in FEHA Discrimination Cases Where Employer Proves Mixed Motive Defense

Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court issued a ruling clarifying details of the “mixed-motive” defense applicable to discrimination claims under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). Harris v. City of Santa Monica, Case No. S181004 (Cal. Feb. 7, 2013). The Harris opinion is undoubtedly positive news for employers and provides much-needed guidance to trial courts in California handling mixed-motive cases (i.e., cases where legitimate and illegitimate factors motivated the decision). READ MORE