On March 23, 2022, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District in Estrada v. Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc., ruled that courts do not have authority to strike a claim under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) due to a lack of manageability at trial. Estrada creates a split of authority with a pro-employer decision, Wesson v. Staples the Office Superstore, LLC, 68 Cal. App. 5th 746 (2021). The Court in Wesson found that trial courts have inherent authority to dismiss PAGA claims as unmanageable. Wesson was discussed in detail in a prior blog article.

Continue Reading Split of Authority Emerges Regarding Whether Employers Can Dismiss PAGA Lawsuits on Manageability Grounds

On February 7, 2022 a California Court of Appeal issued its decision in Hutcheson v. The Superior Court of Alameda County (UBS Financial Services, Inc.).  The case addresses the relation back doctrine in the context of a Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (the “PAGA”) lawsuit, and will have important consequences for PAGA cases moving forward.
Continue Reading Employers May Face an Expanded Liability Period in PAGA Suits Under the Relation Back Doctrine

On February 18, 2022, the California Court of Appeal issued its decision in Jill LaFace v. Ralphs Grocery Company, __ Cal. App. 5th __ (2022), that provides important guidance in two areas. First, the Court made clear that plaintiffs asserting a claim under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) are not entitled to a jury trial. In addition, the Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling rejecting the plaintiff’s suitable seating claim and found that an employee cannot create a “lull in operation” to trigger the provision of a seat by remaining idle instead of performing other expected job duties.

Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Makes Clear that PAGA Plaintiffs are not Entitled to a Jury Trial and Provides Helpful Guidance on Suitable Seating Claims

On December 15, 2021, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, a case which asks whether the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) requires the enforcement of bilateral arbitration agreements providing that an employee cannot raise representative claims, including under the California Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”).

Continue Reading Supreme Court Grants Review in Important Arbitration Case Regarding PAGA

On November 30, 2021, the Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, issued an important opinion in Moniz v. Adecco USA, Inc., __ Cal. App. 5th __ (2021), which will impact employers facing PAGA lawsuits.  Moniz clarified several critical issues employers routinely face in PAGA litigation.  First, departing from Turrieta v. Lyft, Inc., 69 Cal. App. 5th 955 (2021), Moniz held that a deputized aggrieved employee challenging a PAGA settlement has appellate standing to challenge another PAGA settlement that would wipe out their ability to pursue a PAGA claim.  This may affect all employers facing more than one PAGA lawsuit at a time.  Second, Moniz held that claims are validly released if they relate to the same primary right as the claims listed in the PAGA letter that the aggrieved employee sends to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (the “LWDA”).  Finally, Moniz provided guidelines to assess whether a trial court should approve a PAGA settlement.
Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Provides Guidance, and Creates a Split, on Critical PAGA Issues

On September 27, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 646 (“SB 646”), which creates a limited exception from the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”) for certain janitorial employees performing work under a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”). SB 646 will go into effect on January 1, 2022.

Continue Reading California Legislature and Governor Approves New PAGA Carve-Out

To close out the 2021 legislative season, Governor Gavin Newsom signed dozens of bills into law, many of which directly affect California employers.  In addition to the coverage in prior blog posts, which are linked below, this article provides an overview of key new employment laws.

Continue Reading 2021 California Legislative Update: California’s New Employment Laws

On Monday, the Ninth Circuit vacated a judgment for Grubhub, Inc. and against a former food delivery driver, Raef Lawson, who claimed that he was misclassified as an independent contractor when he performed food delivery services.  Lawson had asserted claims for minimum wage, overtime, and expense reimbursement.

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Reversed Grubhub’s Victory on Independent Contractor Classification in Light of the Retroactive Application of Dynamex

On September 9, 2021, California’s Court of Appeal issued an important decision in Wesson v. Staples The Office Superstore, LLC (“Wesson”), holding that trial courts have discretion to strike claims brought under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) when a trial of the action would be unmanageable.  Unless the California Supreme Court grants review, Wesson will be binding upon California state courts and federal district courts.

Continue Reading Manageability – a New Weapon to Stave Off Unmanageable PAGA Claims

On June 4, 2019, the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District issued an unpublished opinion in Krista Townley v. BJ’s Restaurants, Inc. holding that BJ’s Restaurants was not required to reimburse its employees for the cost of black, slip-resistant, closed-toe shoes that BJ’s required its restaurant employees to wear. Due to the lack of California case law addressing the issue, BJ’s requested the opinion be published in the Official Reports. On July 5, 2019, the Court of Appeal granted BJ’s request and ordered the opinion certified for publication. This is the first published opinion in California to adopt the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement’s (“DLSE”) interpretation of a “uniform” and to hold that an employer is not required to reimburse employees for the cost of “non-uniform” work clothing. Matthew Sonne and Jason Guyser of Sheppard Mullin represented BJ’s Restaurants in this matter.
Continue Reading Employers Can Now Stand Firmly On Not Paying Employees For The Cost Of Slip-Resistant Shoes

In a 2010 decision, Stolt-Nielsen S. A. v. Animalfeeds International Corp., the United States Supreme Court held that parties may not be compelled to submit to class arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) unless there is a contractual basis for concluding that they agreed to do so. The Court held that such an agreement could not be presumed from the fact that the arbitration agreement is “silent” on the issue of class arbitration or the mere fact that the parties agreed to arbitrate.
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Individualized Arbitration Where Agreement Is Ambiguous on Issue of Class Arbitration