On June 4, 2019, the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District issued an unpublished opinion in Krista Townley v. BJ’s Restaurants, Inc. holding that BJ’s Restaurants was not required to reimburse its employees for the cost of black,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

The California Court of Appeals recently decided a new case potentially expanding the scope and impact of Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims brought by an employee against his employer. In Huff v. Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., the court posed the question of “whether a plaintiff who brings a representative action under PAGA may seek penalties not only for the Labor Code violation that affected him or her, but also for different violations that affected other employees.” The court then answered that question in the affirmative, concluding “PAGA allows an ‘aggrieved employee’ – a person affected by at least one Labor Code violation committed by an employer – to pursue penalties for all the Labor Code violations committed by that employer.” Accordingly, an employee alleging a single violation of the California Labor Code may now bring PAGA claims against his employer for all violations, suffered by any other employee, of the same employer.
Continue Reading Court Expands Reach of California PAGA Representative Actions

Last month, the California Court of Appeal determined in Khan v. Dunn-Edwards Corp., 2018 Cal.App. LEXIS 44 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. Jan. 4, 2018)(certified for publication), that a former employee’s claim under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) failed due to insufficient notice to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (“LWDA”).

Plaintiff’s Lawsuit & LWDA Letter

Plaintiff sued his former employer, Dunn-Edwards, in a proposed class action claiming that he, and others similarly situated, did not receive their final pay in a timely manner pursuant to Labor Code sections 201-203. After the lawsuit was pending, Plaintiff provided the following notice to Dunn-Edwards and the LWDA:
Continue Reading PAGA Claim Defeated Based on Insufficient Notice to the LWDA

In Esparza v. KS Industries, L.P., 2017 WL 3276363 (2017), the Fifth District Court of Appeal recently clarified the arbitrability of certain claims brought under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”).  Previously, in Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal.4th 348 (2014), the California Supreme Court held that PAGA representative actions for civil penalties are not subject to arbitration (the “Iskanian rule”). This decision led to a spate of actions by plaintiffs who signed valid and enforceable arbitration agreements asserting only PAGA claims, in an attempt to circumvent arbitration. This has been a significant hurdle to many employers, who have been forced to defend PAGA-only actions in civil court, despite the fact that their employees signed valid and enforceable arbitration agreements. Esparza offers a potential carve out to Iskanian that employers should be aware of.
Continue Reading Court Of Appeal Holds That Claims To Recover Wages Under Labor Code Section 558 Brought Through The Private Attorneys General Act May Be Arbitrated