The NLRB under the current administration continues to issue decisions that factor in legitimate business considerations of employers when evaluating rules that are alleged to restrict employee protections under the NLRA. One such recently issued decision, LA Specialty Produce Company, 368 NLRB No. 93 (October 10, 2019), may have particular significance to many of MSK’s clients because it addresses an important issue on which we frequently have consulted with clients in the past — restrictions on communications responsive to inquiries from the media.
On September 18, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law A.B. 5, codifying the “ABC test” adopted in the California Supreme Court decision, Dynamex (see, e.g. prior posts here, here, and here) and ensuring that most California workers should appropriately be classified as employees instead of independent contractors. The bill goes into effect January 1, 2020.
Though supporters state that the bill is aimed primarily at the so-called “gig economy,” in reality A.B. 5 affects virtually every type of business in California.
California employers received mostly good news this past month on the arbitration front, with a trio of pro-employer arbitration-related rulings. The California Supreme Court’s recent ruling invalidating an employer’s arbitration agreement (discussed below) is a notable exception.
California Supreme Court Invalidates Employer’s Arbitration Agreement As Unconscionable.
In OTO LLC v. Ken Kho, the California Supreme Court ruled that an Oakland Toyota dealership’s arbitration agreement with a former employee was unenforceable and was so unfair and one-sided that it was procedurally and substantively unconscionable. “Arbitration is premised on the parties’ mutual consent, not coercion, and the manner of the agreement’s imposition here raises serious concerns on that score,” the majority opinion said. (more…)
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Fort Bend County v. Davis. The message received loud and clear for employers is that timing is everything when it comes to discrimination cases and the use of claim-processing rules, embedded in Title VII, as an affirmative defense. Employers would be well served to ‘watch the clock’ and avoid losing the opportunity to receive an early dismissal. The Court ruled that federal courts can hear discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act if employers do not timely raise the defense that workers failed to first file a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) or state enforcement agencies, as Title VII requires, before filing suit in federal court. Title VII is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, or religion. (more…)
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…)
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 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…)
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…)
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…)
On November 21st, the California Court of Appeals ruled in Donohue v. AMN Services, LLCregarding meal breaks and how they get tracked. Overall, Donohue is a positive wage and hour development for California employers. The case is also helpful in providing a roadmap for a design of an exceptionally good (and now, court approved) electronic meal break recording system (further described in the explanation of the decision), which enables an employer to track the reason for a noncompliant meal period and obtain notification with minimal administrative burden. California employers would be well-served to consider adopting a similar meal break monitoring system, which—considering the cost of defending against meal break claims, a perennial favorite of plaintiffs’ attorneys—would be money well spent. The Court’s decision and the intricacies of the case are further described below. (more…)