California Supreme Court Reaffirms Broad Right to Discovery in PAGA Actions

The California Supreme Court issued its long awaited ruling in Williams v. Superior Court, in which it clarified the scope of discovery in actions brought under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, Labor Code § 2698 et seq., also known as PAGA. (Williams v. Superior Court, __ Cal.5th __ (July 13, 2017, S227228) (“Williams”).) At first glance employers may be concerned by the breadth of discovery the California Supreme Court permits under PAGA, however, in reality the case generally reaffirms the status quo by holding that the scope of discovery in PAGA actions is essentially the same as the scope of discovery in class actions. Specifically, the Court holds that as in class actions, the contact information of the individuals a PAGA plaintiff purports to represent is generally discoverable in the same manner as it has been for many years in wage and hour class actions. While trial courts cannot condition disclosure of employee contact information on the plaintiff making a prima facie showing on the merits of his claims, the same defenses that exist in class actions to such discovery also exist in PAGA actions. While the employer has a substantial burden of proof, the California Supreme Court reaffirmed that employers still have defenses based on undue burden and the need to protect employee privacy rights to limit such discovery. With the overall discussion of discovery issues, the Court also makes pronouncements that can be helpful to employers in other aspects of PAGA litigation, such as its statements indicating that a PAGA action must be manageable to proceed to trial.

Continue Reading

UPDATE: NYC Adopts New Rules Implementing Freelance Law

Earlier this year, we reported that New York City adopted The Establishing Protections for Freelance Workers Act, also known as the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, (the “Freelance Law”). As explained in our prior blog, under the Freelance Law, a company must: (1) provide a written contract when it contracts with a freelance worker for services worth $800 or more, (2) ensure that all payments to freelance workers are made on a timely basis and paid in full, and (3) prohibit any type of retaliatory or adverse action against freelance workers for exercising the rights granted to them under the Freelance Law.

Continue Reading

“Ban the Box” and Background Checks – Recent Trends and Movements

Overview

Retailers and other employers regularly consider the backgrounds of job applicants and employees when making personnel decisions. It is not illegal for employers to ask questions about an applicant’s criminal history, or to require a background check. However, whenever an employer requests background information about a job applicant or employee, the employer must comply with federal and state laws. Within the last five years, employers have been put under increased scrutiny, especially when they require criminal background checks during the hiring process. This article summarizes recent legal trends regarding criminal background checks in the employment context, and discusses how employers—particularly those within the retail industry—can ensure compliance with the law. Continue Reading

Dear Congress: Your District Needs a New E-4 Visa for Promising Entrepreneurs

Procedural History

In August 2016, the Department of Homeland Security proposed an “International Entrepreneur” parole rule that would allow qualifying foreign entrepreneurs to develop and grow their start-up companies in the United States. After public comment, the rule was finalized and released in the closing days of the previous Administration. Continue Reading

The Travel Ban – A Quick Update

The Supreme Court’s decision on June 26 to take up the travel ban cases this fall, and in the meantime partially lift the injunction on the President’s travel ban, has created renewed uncertainty for certain travelers. Statements by the Departments of State and Homeland Security have brought some clarity, though many remain confused. Continue Reading

Department of Labor Moves To Rescind “Persuader Rule” with Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

On June 12, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Office of Labor-Management Standards published a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding its intention to rescind the so-called “persuader rule,” moving the DOL one step closer to withdrawing the controversial regulation introduced by the Obama administration. Continue Reading

Second Circuit Holds that Contingent Equity-Based Compensation of Former Lehman Employees are Subordinate to Creditor Claims

In In re Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc. 855 F.3d 459 (2d Cir. 2017), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a district court order subordinating the claims of former Lehman Bros. (“Lehman”) employees for undelivered equity-based compensation to those of the defunct bank’s general creditors. The Court determined the compensation benefits were securities that had been purchased by the former employees when they agreed to receive them in exchange for their labor and the asserted damages arose from those purchases, requiring the claims’ subordination under the Bankruptcy Code. The decision is important to employees and employers weighing the value of hybrid compensation packages and creditors seeking to safeguard their priority position among bankruptcy claimants.   Continue Reading

Mendoza v. Nordstrom – Day Of Rest Rule

The California Supreme Court issued its long awaited ruling in Mendoza v. Nordstrom, in which it clarified California’s so-called “day of rest” rule, which guarantees employees “one day’s rest therefrom in seven,” prohibits employers from “causing” its employees to work more than six days in seven, and exempts employees when, inter alia, the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week or six hours in any one day. (Cal. Labor Code §§ 551, 552, 556.) Although part of California law since 1858 in one form or another, the day of rest rule had not been actively litigated until Plaintiffs Christopher Mendoza and Meagan Gordon brought a Private Attorney General Act claim against their former employer, Nordstrom, Inc. for allegedly failing to provide them, and other aggrieved employees, “one day’s rest therefrom in seven.” Nordstrom removed the case to federal court and prevailed at the district court level. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit asked the California Supreme Court to determine: Continue Reading

Unfair Scheduling: How New York City’s New Predictive Scheduling Law Continues The Trend And Makes Operations More Difficult For Employers

In November 2014, San Francisco passed the first predictive scheduling legislation in the country. Since that time, other states and municipalities have followed San Francisco’s lead, and have either proposed or enacted some variation of a predictive scheduling law.

On March 3, 2017, New York became the most recent major city to introduce predictive scheduling legislation. The New York City Council’s Committee on Civil Service and Labor introduced, and ultimately passed, a bill (Int. No. 1396-2016) that would implement predictive scheduling for non-salaried fast food employees. New York City’s legislation requires employers to post a worker’s schedule at least 14 days in advance, and to pay a premium if the schedule is changed with less than 14 days’ notice. Importantly, the bill creates a private right of action for employees seeking to enforce their rights. Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the predictive scheduling ordinance into law on May 30, 2017, and it will become effective in 180 days. Continue Reading

The U.S. Department of Labor Rolls Back Obama-Era Guidance on Joint Employers and Independent Contractors

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced today that it was rolling back an Obama-era policy that attempted to increase regulatory oversight of joint employer and contractor businesses.

Courts and agencies use the joint employer doctrine to determine whether a business effectively controls the workplace policies of another company, such as a subsidiary or sub-contractor. That control could be over things like wages, the hiring process, or scheduling. Continue Reading

LexBlog