California’s New Hairstyle Antidiscrimination Law May Signal the Beginning of a National Trend

Signaling a growing movement to align culturally inclusive practices with legal protections, California has become the first state to expressly ban discrimination based on hairstyle and hair texture associated with a person’s race. On July 3, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsome signed into law Senate Bill No. 188, the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act (CROWN Act).

California Pay Equity Data Collection Legislation Closer to Passing

Currently, certain employers are required under federal law to file annual Employer Information Reports (EEO-1) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These EEO-1s must contain data regarding demographics of the employer’s workforce. Accordingly, employers covered by federal EEO-1 reporting requirements were required to file EEO-1 Component 1 data from 2018 by May 31, 2019, and must still submit Component 2 EEO-1 (pay and hours worked) data for their workforces by September 30, 2019. Not to be outdone, the State of California is poised to impose a similar requirement on employers.

California’s Paid Family Leave Program to Expand from 6 to 8 Weeks

California is expanding state benefits available to workers who lose wages while taking time off to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. On June 27, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California’s 2019-20 state budget, which included an expansion of the state’s family temporary disability insurance program administered through the Employment Development Department (EDD). The benefit program is commonly referred to as “paid family leave” or PFL.

California Court Delivers Trucking Company a Meal/Rest Break Win and Limits the Application of the ABC Test

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California recently ruled in an employment class action regarding misclassification of trucking industry owner-operators as independent contractors. The ruling is a win for numerous industries.

Don’t Slip Up: When Are California Employers Required to Pay for Employees’ Shoes?

A hot-button issue in California is whether an employer is required to pay for or reimburse an employee for shoes that are required as a condition of employment. A recent ruling by the California Court of Appeal highlights the complexity of the issue and lack of concrete guidance on a critical question: whether California workplace safety law requires an employer to pay for nonspecialty safety shoes, such as generic steel-toe boots, that the employer allows the employee to wear off the jobsite.

Bill to Exclude California Employees from CCPA Passes Senate Committee With Changes

On July 9, 2019, the California Senate Judiciary Committee passed Assembly Bill 25 (AB 25), but only after certain changes were made to quell opposition to the bill by labor groups. The bill  was originally drafted to exclude employees and job applicants from the definition of “consumer” under the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA).

Offshore Oil Rig Workers’ Overtime Claims Governed by FLSA, Not California Law

On June 10, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled that state wage and hour laws do not apply to offshore drilling workers where federal law addresses the relevant issue. In Parker Drilling Management Services v. Newton, No. 18-389, the Supreme Court answered the question of whether California’s laws governing the minimum wage and payment for “standby time” applied to workers on oil rigs in federal waters off the coast of California.

Keeping an Eye on Artificial Intelligence Regulation and Legislation

More and more organizations are beginning to use or expand their use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools and services in the workplace. Despite AI’s proven potential for enhancing efficiency and decision-making, it has raised a host of issues in the workplace which, in turn, have prompted an array of federal and state regulatory efforts that are likely to increase in the near future.

A Dozen Major Employment Law Bills Wind Through the California Legislature

The California State Senate and Assembly have been busy this year, moving a number of employment law bills through the legislative process. May 31, 2019, was the deadline for either the assembly or the senate to pass a bill and send it to the other house. A few employment-related bills failed to advance, but there are still a dozen major bills marching forward.

Draft California Regulations for Nighttime Agricultural Operations Up for Vote at Standards Board

On April 18, 2019, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board will consider an update to the regulations governing nighttime agriculture operations at its monthly meeting. In 2013, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (or Cal/OSHA) asked for a revised regulation because of prior accidents or fatalities that occurred during the darkness of nighttime agriculture operations.

Federal Court Finds California’s New ABC Test Is Not Preempted, Applies to Trucking Industry

As California employers wait to see how the California legislature votes on independent contractor bills after the new ABC test was announced by the California Supreme Court last year, a recent federal case out of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California has received some attention in the transportation industry.

Key Takeaways From an ERISA Fiduciary Breach Ruling on Behavioral Standards of Care After a 10-Day Trial

Behavioral health claims administrators and plan sponsors alike may be looking more closely at their care guidelines—and how they are applied—after a federal court ruled in a California class action that a claims administrator had breached its fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) by applying standards of care that were more restrictive than generally accepted standards and by improperly prioritizing cost savings.

Salary History Is Not Quite History in the Ninth Circuit, According to Supreme Court

On February 25, 2019, in a much awaited decision, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a per curiam ruling in Yovino v. Rizo, No. 18-272, 586 U.S. ___ (2019). Rather than address the substantive issue of whether an employer may rely on salary history to establish starting pay under the federal Equal Pay Act (EPA), the Court vacated and remanded the matter on a procedural—yet still important—issue.

California Court of Appeal Identifies Triggers for Reporting Time Pay Obligation

In a ruling that will have a significant impact on the retail and restaurant industries, among others in California, the California Court of Appeal ruled that a retail employer’s call-in scheduling policy—in which employees were required to call the employer in advance of a shift to find out if they needed to show up for

Second Verse, Same as the First: Ninth Circuit Weighs in Again on Background Check Disclosures, Raising the Compliance Bar Even Higher

The disclosure requirement of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) remains one of the most contentious and expensive litigation areas for employers. The case law from various federal district courts has been a mixed bag, leaving employers to question what it means to provide a “clear and conspicuous” disclosure in a writing that “consists solely” of the disclosure.

Due Process and Primary Jurisdiction Defenses to Website Accessibility Claims Fall Like Dominoes in the Ninth Circuit

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its highly-anticipated website accessibility opinion in Robles v. Domino’s Pizza, reaffirming the obligation to make retailers’ websites accessible and rejecting the due process and primary jurisdiction arguments commonly asserted by defendants in website accessibility litigation.

Please Release Me: New California Civil Code Section 1542 Release Language Effective January 1, 2019

Given the litigious environment in California, employers operating in the state are in great need of enforceable general release terms in severance and settlement agreements. California employers entering into severance or settlement agreements will want to be aware of the amendment to California Civil Code Section 1542.

Federal Agency Preempts California’s Meal and Rest Break Rules for Property-Carrying Commercial Drivers

In an order with significant implications for motor carriers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) concluded that California’s meal and rest break rules are preempted by federal transportation law and may no longer be enforced by the State of California where the driver is subject to federal hours-of-service (HOS) requirements. Specifically, on December 21,

Ninth Circuit Asks California Supreme Court to Decide Question That Could Greatly Expand California’s Prevailing Wage Laws

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Mendoza v. Fonseca McElroy Grinding Co., Inc., et al., No. 17-15221 (January 15, 2019), requested that the California Supreme Court decide the following question: Is operating engineers’ offsite “mobilization work”—including the transportation to and from a public works site of roadwork grinding equipment—performed “in the execution of [a] contract for public work,” Cal. Lab. Code § 1772, such that it entitles workers to “not less than the general prevailing rate of per diem wages for work of a similar character in the locality in which the public work is performed” pursuant to section 1771 of the California Labor Code?