Labor & Employment

Wage and Hour Law

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The following was written collectively by our Labor & Employment Department.

A. Federal Court Decisions

1.No Administrative Exemption for Mortgage Underwriters

In McKeen-Chaplin v. Provident Sav. Bank, 862 F.3d 847 (9th Cir. 2017), the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s holding that mortgage underwriters qualified for the “administrative exemption” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). In particular, the plaintiff alleged that she and other underwriters often worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek and, therefore, were owed overtime compensation. The defendant argued that mortgage underwriters were exempt under the administrative exemption, and the district court agreed. The Ninth Circuit reversed, and focused on the distinction, imposed by Department of Labor (“DOL”) regulations interpreting the scope of the FLSA exemptions, between “work directly related to running or servicing of the business” and “working on a manufacturing production line or selling a product in a retail or service establishment,” also known as the “administrative-production dichotomy.” According to the DOL, those engaged in management of the business are exempt from the overtime-pay requirements of the FLSA, while those involved in making the goods it sells or performing the services a business provides to the marketplace are not exempt. The Ninth Circuit noted that two other circuit Court of Appeals, the Second Circuit (which ruled underwriters are non-exempt) and the Sixth Circuit (which ruled they are exempt) have reached opposite conclusions.

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National Labor Relations Act

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The following was written collectively by our Labor & Employment Department.

A. The “New” National Labor Relations Board Decisions and Memos

As of this past fall, following confirmation of Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel as new members of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), that agency has obtained a 3-2 Republican majority for the first time in almost a decade. As expected, in the few short months thereafter, the Trump era NLRB has been on a path to reverse many of the decisions and actions taken by the Obama era NLRB. Here are the more significant NLRB decisions that fall in this category. Notably all were decided this past December.

1. NLRB Establishes New Standard Governing Workplace Policies

On December 14, 2017, in The Boeing Co., 365 NLRB No. 156, the NLRB overturned its standard for evaluating the legality of employee handbook policies. The standard that was overruled was established in Lutheran Heritage Village – Livonia, 343 NLRB 646 (2004). In Lutheran Heritage, the NLRB stated that a policy is illegal if employees could “reasonably construe” it to bar them from exercising their rights to engage in union or other concerted activities under the NLRA. In the Boeing case, the administrative law judge applied the Lutheran Heritage rule to Boeing’s workplace policy restricting workers’ use of camera-enabled devices and similar recording devices such as cellphones on company property violated the NLRA. Although Boeing’s “no-recording” policy would have violated the NLRA under Lutheran Heritage, the NLRB in Boeing stated that Lutheran Heritage’s “reasonably construe” standard entails a “single-minded consideration of NLRA-protected rights, without taking into account any legitimate justifications associated with policies, rules and handbook provisions.” (more…)

New California Laws

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The following was written collectively by our Labor & Employment Department.

New California Laws

1. California Salary History Ban

AB 168, which enacted California Labor Code Section 432.3, is intended to promote equal pay, particularly between men and women. In passing AB 168, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, California joins a handful of states (Massachusetts, Delaware and Oregon) and municipalities (New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco) which have enacted similar measures. In sum, AB 168 prohibits all California employers (including public employers) from

  • Inquiring or seeking from job applicants, whether “orally or in writing, personally or through an agent,” salary history information (the law does not define the term “salary history); and
  • Relying on or considering salary history as a factor in determining whether to offer employment to an applicant or what salary to offer an applicant. (more…)

New York: New Laws

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The following was written collectively by our Labor & Employment Department.

New York: New Laws

1. NY State Paid Family Leave Law Goes into Effect

In 2016, New York State adopted a 12-week paid family leave policy for New York employees (the “Paid Leave Law”). Once fully implemented, the Paid Leave Law will provide New York employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid family leave for the purpose of (1) caring for a new child, (2) caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or (3) relieving family pressures when a family member, including a spouse, domestic partner, child or parent, is called to active military service. Starting on January 1, 2018, employees will be eligible for eight weeks of paid leave, earning 50% of their weekly pay (capped at 50% of the statewide average weekly pay). The number of weeks of leave and amount of pay increases yearly until, by 2021, employees will be eligible for the full 12 weeks of paid leave, earning 67% of their weekly pay (capped at 67% of the statewide average weekly pay).

Paid leave to care for a new child will be available to both men and women and will include leave to care for an adoptive or foster child. An employee may take paid leave to care for a new child any time within the first 12 months after the child’s birth or 12 months after the placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee. Paid leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition includes leave to care for a child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, spouse or domestic partner. (more…)

California Passes Immigrant Worker Protection Act

US Customs and Border Protection

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By Janice Luo and Justine Lazarus

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450), which restricts public and private employers in California from admitting immigration inspectors to the workplace without a judicial warrant.  It also requires employers to notify their employees before and after certain immigration inspections take place.  The new law, which adds Sections 7285.1, 7285.2, and 7285.3 to the California Government Code, and Sections 90.2 and 1019.2 to the California Labor Code, will take effect on January 1, 2018.

In conflict with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) plans to increase enforcement actions under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which includes criminal and civil penalties for employers who knowingly employ unauthorized workers; the new California law seeks to protect foreign workers from unfair immigration-related practices, potentially causing problems for employers who must comply with federal and state laws.  (more…)

Expansion of California Parental Leave Rights

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Governor Signs Bill Expanding Parental Leave Rights for Employees of Small Businesses

By Mark Wasserman and Mazen Khatib

Governor Jerry Brown has signed the New Parent Leave Act (“PLA”), extending baby-bonding leave with job protection rights and continuation of pre-existing health insurance to a broad segment of California employees. Employers with twenty (20) or more employees within 75 miles of a qualified employee’s worksite must provide “12 weeks of [unpaid] parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.” A qualified employee is one with twelve (12) months of service to the employer and 1,250 hours worked in the previous year. This leave is unpaid but the employee is entitled to use any accrued vacation pay, sick pay or other paid time off during the period of parental leave. Moreover, during the protected period of the leave, the employer must continue its payments for employee health coverage under a group health plan.  The law goes into effect on January 1, 2018.

This law does not change anything for businesses with 50 or more employees as they were already required to provide such baby-bonding leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law also does not apply to California employers that employ fewer than twenty employees. PLA is estimated to impact 16 percent of California’s labor force. (more…)

California “Bans the Box”: Pre-Offer Criminal Inquiries Generally Outlawed in the State

Gavel, scales of justice and law booksBy Anthony Amendola and Justine Lazarus

On October 14, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1008  a “Ban the Box” law that significantly restricts an employer’s ability to seek or obtain information about a job applicant’s criminal history.  The California law is similar to laws that have been adopted in other jurisdictions, including New York City and the City of Los Angeles. California’s new law amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), adding a new section, Government Code Section 12952, which prohibits all California employers with five or more employees from: (more…)

California Bans Salary History Inquiries for Job Applicants

Financial chart on chalkboard

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By Anthony Amendola and Justine Lazarus

On October 12, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a significant piece of employment legislation that prohibits California employers from asking job applicants about their salary histories.  The new law will take effect on January 1, 2018.

Assembly Bill 168, which adds section 432.3 to the California Labor Code, is intended to promote equal pay, particularly between men and women.  It prohibits all California employers (including state and local government employers and the state Legislature) from

  • Seeking from job applicants, whether “orally or in writing, personally or through an agent,” salary history information (including both pay and benefits); and
  • Relying on salary history as a factor in determining whether to offer employment to an applicant or what salary to offer an applicant.

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California Employer Domestic Violence Notice Requirement

Written by Erica Parks

Last November, Assembly Bill No. 2337 (“AB 2337”) was signed into law amending Section 230.1 of the California Labor Code by requiring employers to provide written notice to all employees, including new employees upon hire, of their rights thereunder. Specifically, Section 230.1 prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking for taking time off from work to seek medical attention for resulting injuries, receive counseling, participate in safety planning, or obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, program, or rape crisis center.

AB 2337 postponed the notice requirement until such time as the Labor Commissioner developed and posted on the Department of Industrial Relations’ (“DIT”) website a model notice. The Labor Commissioner has now issued its model notice. Accordingly, employers must immediately comply with the posting requirement either by adopting the Labor Commissioner’s model notice or developing their own notice, in which case such notice must be “substantially similar” to the model notice. The Labor Commissioner’s model notice is available on the DIR’s website here.

Please contact MSK if your business decides to develop its own notice and would like to ensure that it complies with the new law.

Salary Inquiries Off Limits in San Francisco

Written by Erica Parks

Last month, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed the “Parity in Pay” Ordinance, making San Francisco the latest in a growing number of cities and states that have enacted legislation prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about their salary histories. The ordinance, the full text of which is available here, takes effect July 1, 2018 (penalties for violations will be available starting July 1, 2019). Under the new law, employers will be prohibited from:

  • Asking about an applicant’s current or prior salary;
  • Considering or relying on an applicant’s salary history in determining whether to make a job offer or what salary to offer;
  • Refusing to hire or otherwise retaliating against an applicant for refusing to disclose their salary history; and
  • Releasing the salary history of a current or former employee  without written authorization unless such information is required to be disclosed by law, publicly available, or subject to a collective bargaining agreement.

However, employers may discuss an applicant’s salary expectations and any benefits they would have to forfeit in order to take the new job (e.g., unvested equity or deferred bonus compensation). Further, when an applicant voluntarily discloses salary history without prompting by the employer, the employer may consider such information. Of course, pursuant to California Labor Code 1197.5, such history by itself cannot be used to justify paying such applicant less than an employee of a different sex, race, or ethnicity for doing substantially similar work under similar working conditions. Click here to view our previous alert. (more…)