At its upcoming April 21, 2022 meeting, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) Standards Board will decide whether to readopt the fourth iteration of its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”), which first went into effect on November 30, 2020.  The ETS apply to all employees not covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Disease Standard or employees working alone or at home, and require employers to establish, implement, and maintain a COVID-19 Prevention Program (“CPP”), among other things.  Sheppard Mullin previously wrote about the implementation of the original ETS here, and previous revisions to its requirements here and here.
Continue Reading Further Updates to Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Likely Coming Soon

Under well-settled, decades-old precedent, employers have historically been free to hold mandatory “captive audience” meetings to educate employees, share views on unionization, and discuss what employees’ rights are with respect to the same. However, on April 7, 2022, the NLRB General Counsel (“GC”) issued a memorandum stating her intent to ask the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) to reconsider this rule, and overturn 75 years of precedent allowing an employer to hold “captive audience” meetings. Notwithstanding the plain wording of Section 8(c) of the NLRA, the GC takes the position that such mandatory meetings are inconsistent with employees’ rights under the NLRA. According to the GC, “captive audience” meetings chill employees’ Section 7 rights to refrain from listening to employer speech regarding unionization. She argues that employers typically use threats to coerce employees to attend mandatory meetings, and therefore these meetings fall outside the scope of statutory and constitutional free speech protections. Instead, she will urge the Board to require that an employer must make clear to employees that their attendance at these meetings is truly voluntary. While this memorandum does not change current law, it signals the GC’s intent to bring unfair labor practice charges against an employer for holding “captive audience” meetings in order to bring the issue before the Board.

Continue Reading NLRB General Counsel Will Ask the Board to Find That Captive Audience Meetings Violate the NLRA

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 March 11, 2022, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) proposed reverting the definition of “prevailing wage” under the Davis-Bacon Act to a definition used over 40 years ago. According to the DOL, the proposal is meant to modernize the law and “reflect better the needs of workers in the construction industry and planned federal construction investments.”[1]
Continue Reading Turning Back the Clock: DOL Proposes Previous Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage Definition

The National Labor Relations Board (Board or NLRB) could reverse a 2019 decision holding that honest, albeit mistaken, classification decisions and announcements to employees do not violate the National Labor Relations Act (the NLRA). On March 17, 2022, General Counsel of the NLRB issued a Complaint against Deco Logistics, Inc. d/b/a Container Connection and its affiliates (collectively Deco Logistics), alleging that Deco Logistics violated the NLRA by misclassifying drivers as independent contractors as well as other conduct that allegedly violated the workers’ Section 7 rights to organize, such as interrogating a driver about union activities and retaliating against drivers for assisting the union’s organizing campaign. The Complaint seeks an affirmative order that Deco Logistics reclassify its independent contractors as employees, and compensation for any harm the workers incurred as a result of the misclassification as independent contractors.

Continue Reading NLRB to Decide Whether Misclassification Is Standalone Violation of the NLRA

On March 18, 2022, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued “Web Accessibility Guidance” for state and local governments and public accommodations under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) (the “Guidance”). The Guidance, however, does not offer any new insights from the DOJ on the issue of website accessibility for state and local governments and public accommodations, and does not provide any specific technical standards for compliance. Instead, as the DOJ explained in the accompanying press release, the Guidance is merely intended to “offer[] plain language and user-friendly explanations to ensure that it can be followed by people without a legal or technical background.”

Continue Reading The Department of Justice Issues “Web Accessibility Guidance”

On March 24, 2022, New York City Council members Nantasha M. Williams and Justin L. Brannan introduced Int. 134, a bill that would alter New York City’s impending pay transparency law.  As we previously reported, beginning on May 15, 2022, all New York City employers must state the minimum and maximum salary associated with an advertised “job, promotion, or transfer opportunity,” both internally and externally (the “NYC Pay Transparency Law” or the “Law”).  Int. 134 proposes certain alterations and clarifications to the NYC Pay Transparency Law that may affect employers’ compliance measures.
Continue Reading New York City Council Proposes Amendment to Pay Transparency Law

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