On April 19, 2023, the California Court of Appeal held that an employer’s arbitration agreement was unenforceable because of unconscionable terms found in other documents provided to employees during the onboarding process. The decision was certified for publication on May 10, 2023. In Alberto v. Cambrian Homecare (Apr. 19, 2023, No. B314192) ___Cal.App.5th, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision that a standalone arbitration agreement was unconscionable based on terms contained within the employer’s confidentiality agreement. Because the arbitration and confidentiality agreements were presented to the employee at the time of hire and related to the employee’s employment, the Court found that the employer’s confidentiality agreement was part of the “contract” to arbitrate, and the two agreements must be read together. The Court then reasoned that unconscionable terms in the confidentiality agreement permeated the arbitration agreement rendering it unenforceable. The Alberto decision is an important development for employers utilizing arbitration agreements along with other types of employment-related agreements as it creates a new risk of losing the benefits of arbitration.
Morgan Forsey is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group and is co-Office Managing Partner of the San Francisco office.
On September 27, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 62, also known as the Garment Worker Protection Act, into law. SB 62 makes California the first state to require an hourly minimum wage for garment workers by banning piece rate pay. SB 62 expands the definition of a garment manufacturer and extends the scope of liability for wage and hour violations to clothing brands—and likely some retailers. Under SB 62, “any person contracting for the performance of garment manufacturing” is joint and severally liable with any of their manufacturers and contractors, thus creating upstream responsibility for unpaid wages, attorney’s fees, and civil penalties arising from Labor Code violations. Although the new law does not become effective until January 1, 2022, companies that contract or subcontract for garment manufacturing, or have employees who perform garment manufacturing functions in California, should begin familiarizing themselves with SB 62 and determining whether/how it affects their business.
Continue Reading California Passes Law Establishing New Wage and Hour Requirements for Employers in the Garment Industry
Our proximity and “close contact” with other humans is on the front lines in the war against coronavirus. Yet tracking 6 feet of distance from every human we encounter for a 14 day period is nearly impossible without the help of technology like contact-tracing apps. Although many privacy and employment laws designed to protect employee rights have been temporarily relaxed during the pandemic, employers must consider and resolve employee privacy issues created by contact-tracing apps. As businesses forge roadmaps to reopen, these apps offer innovative solutions to meet legal requirements imposed by OSHA and Centers for Disease Control. This article explores what employers need to know about contact-tracing apps including how they work, the laws that govern, the impact to employee privacy, consent, and ways to mitigate risk associated with contact-tracing apps.
Continue Reading Up Close & Personal: Contact-Tracing Apps & Employee Privacy
The New Orders
On March 31, 2020, the following six Bay Area counties issued revised “Shelter in Place” Orders (“Orders”) that went into effect that same day at 11:59 p.m.: San Francisco, Santa Clara, Marin, Alameda, San Mateo, and Contra Costa, and the City of Berkeley. The new Orders revise and replace the existing Shelter In Place Orders which were set to expire on April 7, 2020. Significantly, these Orders do not merely extend existing orders to May 3, 2020, but make material changes to several provisions and add additional requirements that Bay Area employers must immediately understand and implement.
Continue Reading The San Francisco Bay Area Issues Strengthened COVID-19 Shelter In Place Orders That Have a Significant Impact on Employers and Operations
Overturning existing precedent, the NLRB has ruled that certain employees have a right to use employer email systems for protected communications, unless special circumstances exist. This decision potentially has far-reaching implications and all employers who allow employees to access their email systems should promptly review their policies and practices in light of this decision.
Continue Reading Employers Beware! Employees are Permitted to Use Employer’s Email Systems for Non Work Purposes, Including Union Organizing
Employers with sales teams in California need to get ready. California has a new commission contract law, AB 1396, which takes effect January 1, 2013. Under AB 1396, which amends California Labor Code section 2751, employers who pay commissions to their employees are required to enter into written commission contracts with employees. The contract must describe the method by which commissions are computed and paid. Employers must also provide a copy of the signed contract to each employee, and get a signed receipt from each employee. That’s the easy part. Here’s the tricky part. Going forward, when a contract governing commissions expires without being replaced but the employee continues work, the terms of the “expired” contract will apply to commissions until the parties sign a new agreement or until the employment is terminated. As a result, it will be important to get new commission contracts in place before or when the old ones expire.
Continue Reading New California Commission Contract Rules – It is Not Too Early To Get Ready!