For companies doing business in California, it’s important to be aware of the January 18, 2024 California Supreme Court decision in Estrada v. Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc.*, which examined whether trial courts can strike PAGA claims on manageability grounds. PAGA, or the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, created new enforcement and procedural standards to the California Labor Code’s wage and hour provisions. While the law has been viewed as pro-plaintiff, the decision in Estrada can be seen as underscoring that point of view.Continue Reading California Supreme Court Concludes PAGA Actions Cannot be Dismissed as Unmanageable
Richard J. Simmons is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.
As we wrote about previously here, in October 2022, the Sixth District of the California Court of Appeal in Camp v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 84 Cal.App.5th 638 (2022), ignored a decade of precedent and found Home Depot’s total time rounding for its non-exempt employees was unlawful. In so holding, the court held, “if an employer, as in this case, can capture and has captured the exact amount of time an employee has worked during a shift, the employer must pay the employee for ‘all the time’ worked.” The court rejected at least half a dozen prior appellate opinions and instead focused on carefully selected passages from the California Supreme Court’s holding in Troester v. Starbucks, 5 Cal.5th 829 (2018) and Donohue v. AMN, 11 Cal.5th 58 (2021). In Troester, the Supreme Court held the federal de minimis doctrine did not apply in California, and employees must be paid for all time worked, even during activities that occur regularly but take only a few minutes per day before clocking in (e.g., undergoing a bag check). In Donohue, the Supreme Court rejected time rounding for 30-minute meal periods, although it did not address whether rounding of clock punches for in and out times when shifts begin and end was improper. Continue Reading Home Depot Files Opening Brief in California Supreme Court Case Set to Determine Validity of Time Clock Rounding
On July 24, 2020, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) issued guidance entitled “COVID-19 Employer Playbook For a Safe Reopening.” The CDPH then revised the 32-page Employer Playbook a week later, on July 31st. A link to the most up-to-date guidance is available here.
Continue Reading California Department of Public Health Issues COVID-19 “Employer Playbook”
On December 10, 2018, the California Supreme Court handed down its unanimous decision in Gerard, et al. v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, affirming the Court of Appeal ruling that voluntary meal period waivers are permissible for healthcare employees who work long shifts, even if they work more than 12 hours. By allowing healthcare employees to waive one of their two meal periods, the Gerard decision preserves a choice for employees who work 12-hour shifts. They continue to have the flexibility to work shifts that span 12 ½ hours with one 30-minute meal period or shifts that span 13 hours and include two 30-minute meal periods.
Sheppard Mullin argued this case before the California Supreme Court and has represented Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in the case since 2008.
Not only was this case hard fought throughout California courts for 10 years, but it also involved novel legislative action. Notably, it was the only wage-hour victory for an employer before the California Supreme Court in 2018.
Continue Reading California Supreme Court Confirms Validity Of Meal Period Waivers For Healthcare Employees
The Court’s opinion in Scott v. Chipotle Mexican Grill demonstrates how employers can successfully combat class action claims that employees were misclassified as exempt. The successful defense of the class certification motion relied chiefly on deposition and declaration testimony to highlight inconsistencies, variations, and individualized inquiries that prevented resolution of the claims at issue on a class-wide basis.
Continue Reading Sheppard Mullin Secures Major Victory for Chipotle in Nationwide Misclassification Action By Demonstrating Variations Among Proposed Class Members
The ability of hospitals to use meal period waivers was called into question by a 2015 Court of Appeal decision in Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center (Gerard I), which held that the provision in Wage Order 5 allowing waivers even when employees work over 12 hours was invalid. Following two more years of litigation, we can now inform you that the three-member panel that reached the 2015 decision in Gerard I, reversed itself on March 1, 2017 in Gerard II. In its new opinion, the Court of Appeal adopted Sheppard Mullin’s argument and confirmed that the special meal period rules for health care employees in Wage Order 5 are, in fact, valid.
Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Affirms Validity of Hospital Meal Period Waivers
On December 22, 2016, the California Supreme Court issued a critical decision in Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., 2016 D.J. 12608 (2016), relating to California’s rest period obligations. The California Supreme Court declared that state law prohibits on-duty and on-call rest periods. It stated that employers must (1) relieve their employees of all duties during rest periods and (2) relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time. However, the decision did not end there. The California Supreme Court examined a number of related considerations, including the practical limitations created by a ten-minute rest period, policies that place restrictions on employees during rest periods, the circumstances under which premium payments may be due for missed rest periods, and the possibility of rescheduling or restarting rest periods when they cannot be provided or are interrupted.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds That Rest Periods Must Be Free From Duties And Employer Control