Labor & Employment

HIT THE ROAD, JACK: UBER DRIVERS ARE INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS ACCORDING TO NLRB

Taxi navigation

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By Jonathan Turner

Why This Matters

On May 14, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) released an advice memorandum declaring that Uber drivers are independent contractors (not employees) and are, therefore, not eligible to unionize.  The memo, dated April 16, 2019, said the drivers are independent contractors under the NLRB’s recently-adopted SuperShuttle test (see here), because they have “significant entrepreneurial opportunity” while driving for Uber.   The NLRB’s standard only applies in the labor context.  It does not apply to California wage claims and lawsuits, where the California Supreme Court has adopted the ABC Test set forth in Dynamex (see here). (more…)

A Sign of the Times? Tennessee Expands Anti-Bullying Law to Private Employers

Two Male Colleagues Fighting In Office

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By Jeremy Mittman and Samuel Richman

On April 23, 2019, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a bill into law extending the Healthy Workplaces Act, Tennessee’s workplace bullying prevention law, to private employers. The law went into effect immediately upon signing. Tennessee’s anti-bullying law encourages employers to adopt policies to address and prevent “abusive conduct” in the workplace. The law defines “abusive conduct” as “acts or omissions that would cause a reasonable person, based on the severity, nature, and frequency of the conduct, to believe that an employee was subject to an abusive work environment.” (more…)

The Ever-Expanding Dynamex Decision

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By Jeremy Mittman and Danton Liang

Why This Matters

The day after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the California Supreme Court’s decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court applies retroactively (see here), California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) released an opinion letter concluding that Dynamex’s ABC test applies to both IWC Wage Order claims and certain Labor Code provisions that enforce Wage Order requirements. The California Court of Appeals has ruled that Dynamex applies only to claims brought under the IWC Wage Orders (see here) and the DLSE’s recent opinion letter seems to expand what that means.

While California state and federal courts are not bound by DLSE opinion letters (meaning they could reach a different conclusion as to exactly which California Labor Code claims fall under Dynamex), the DLSE’s opinion letter reflects the way that agency will be interpreting Dynamex moving forward. This will impact employers who face DLSE wage claims where employees contend they were improperly classified as independent contractors. (more…)

Dynamex Goes Back in Time

Businessman holding sign clock. Concept business time is money

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By Jeremy Mittman

Why This Matters

On Thursday, May 2, in Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc., a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the California Supreme Court’s ruling in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court applies retroactively. In Dynamex, the Supreme Court adopted a new standard for determining whether a California worker is an employee or independent contractor under the California Industrial Welfare Commission’s (“IWC”) wage orders. As we have previously discussed (see here, here, and here), Dynamex’s reach continues to grow and the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Vazquez should be of particular concern to employers, who now face potential liability for their past decisions to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees under a standard that did not exist at the time. (more…)

2017 and 2018 EEO-1 Pay Data Reporting Requirements Due September 30th

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By Bethanie Thau

Why This Matters

In early March, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia revived an Obama-era rule that requires larger companies to report workers’ pay data broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity. Last week, the Court issued an order requiring employers to submit 2018 EEO-1 pay data by September 30, 2019. Just this morning, the EEOC announced it will also collect 2017 data. This means that employers with 100 or more employees (and federal contractors with 50 or more employees) will be required to report their employees’ 2017 and 2018 W-2 compensation information and hours worked by the September deadline. The deadline to submit all other EEO-1 data, such as race and gender information, remains May 31, 2019. (more…)

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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Employee Must Arbitrate Employment Dispute Once Employer Declares that Continued Employment Manifests Assent to Arbitration Policy

By Jonathan Turner and Irina Constantin

Late last week, the California Court of Appeals ruled in Diaz v. Sohnen Enterprises that an employee must arbitrate her discrimination suit against her employer because she consented to an arbitration agreement by continuing to work.  The split, three-judge panel sent the employee’s claims to arbitration even though she never signed the written arbitration agreement and verbally rejected it.

In short, the Court held that “California law in this area is settled: when an employee continues his or her employment after notification that an agreement to arbitration is a condition of continued employment, that employee has impliedly consented to the arbitration agreement.” (more…)

Dynamex Strikes the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

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By Jonathan Turner

Why This Matters

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently remanded a case, Haitayan v. 7-Eleven, Inc., to the federal district court to reconsider its ruling in light of the California Supreme Court’s decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court. The Dynamex Court adopted a new standard to determine whether workers are employees or independent contractors. This standard presumes that workers are employees unless they meet all three factors of what the Court called the ABC test. While Haitayan is an unpublished decision, meaning it is not precedential, it does demonstrate Dynamex’s continuing reach, this time all the way up to the Ninth Circuit. Given Dynamex’s broad impact on employers (see our previous discussions here and here), its trajectory is notable. (more…)

I’ll See Your Minimum Wage and Raise You

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By Jeremy Mittman and Carly Epstein

Late last week, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued its proposed overtime rule, proposing changes to the federal minimum salary requirements needed to fall within the exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (the “FLSA”) minimum wage and overtime pay regulations.

It is important to note that the proposed changes would apply at the federal level, with many states already having salary requirements that exceed the proposed changes for exemption.  For those of you in California, for example, the state’s minimum wage and overtime regulations require that employees make at least twice the state’s minimum wage for full-time employment, or a total of approximately $47,000 – $50,000 per year (depending on the applicable minimum wage based on employer size), to be exempt from the state’s overtime provisions.  California also has its own duties test.  Exempt employees in California must satisfy both the state and federal tests to qualify as exempt. (more…)

California Court of Appeals Dials in on Call-In Practices

By Jeremy Mittman and Louise Truong

Recently, the California Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 split decision that employees who are required to call in two hours prior to the start of their shifts to ask whether they needed to report to work are entitled to reporting time pay.  In Ward v. Tilly’s, Inc., the Court held that Tilly’s on-call policy triggered the “Reporting Time Pay” provision of California’s Wage Order 7, which applies to the retail industry. The Ward majority held that Wage Order 7’s Reporting Time Pay provision applied because Tilly’s workers “reported” for work when they called-in.

Under the Reporting Time Pay provision, employers are required to pay employees reporting time pay, as follows: “Each workday an employee is required to report for work and does report, but is not put to work or is furnished less than half said employee’s usual or scheduled day’s work, the employee shall be paid for half the usual or scheduled day’s work, but in no event for less than two (2) hours nor more than four (4) hours, at the employee’s regular rate of pay.” For example, if a sales clerk is scheduled to report to work for an eight-hour shift and only works for one hour, the employer is still obligated to pay the employee four hours of his or her regular rate of pay.  (more…)

No Payday for Plaintiffs

By Jeremy Mittman and Samuel Richman

Last week, in Goonewardene v. ADP, LLC, the California Supreme Court addressed the question of whether, when an employer hires an independent payroll service provider (or “payroll company”) to take over all the payroll tasks that would otherwise be performed by an internal payroll department, the employee may bring a civil action against not only his or her employer but against the payroll company as well.  The Court held that an employee who believes he or she has not been paid the wages due under the applicable labor statutes and Wage Orders may not maintain causes of action for unpaid wages against a payroll service provider for: (1) breach of contract, (2) negligence, or (3) negligent misrepresentation.  In reaching this holding, the Court reversed the Court of Appeal’s ruling that the employee may maintain those three causes of action for unpaid wages against the payroll company even though a payroll company cannot properly be considered an employer of the hiring business’s employee. (more…)