Ward v. Tilly’s, Inc.: California Employers Should Dial Back On-Call Shift Policies

On February 4, 2019, the California Court of Appeal, Second District issued a 2-1 decision in Ward v. Tilly’s, Inc. in which it held employees must be given “reporting time pay” under Wage Order No. 7-2001 when an employer requires its employees to call in two hours before a potential shift to learn whether the employee is needed for work and the employee is told not to come into work that day.  This decision strays from most employers’ general understanding that “reporting time pay” covers only the situation where the employee physically comes into work but is sent home early (usually for lack of work).  Nevertheless, as the only published California appellate decision addressing this specific issue, California employers are bound by Ward and should revise their reporting policies accordingly to avoid liability. Continue Reading

Complicating Simplicity: Ninth Circuit Requires Separate Stand-Alone Documents for Employment Background Checks

Albert Einstein believed “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” The Ninth Circuit seems to agree. In Gilberg v. Cal. Check Cashing Stores, LLC, No. 17-16263, 2019 WL 347027 (Ninth Cir. Jan. 29, 2019), the Ninth Circuit held a single form combining nearly identical federal and state disclosures violates both federal and state laws. Employers who conduct pre-employment background checks must now provide applicants with two separate standalone forms: (1) disclosure and consent under Fair Credit Reporting Act; and (2) disclosure and consent under California’s Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (or other applicable state law). This decision applies to employees providing services in the Ninth Circuit (California, Arizona, Hawaii, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington). Continue Reading

Actual Injury Unnecessary to Sue Under Illinois Biometric Law

The Illinois Supreme Court recently handed down its much-anticipated decision in Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corporation et al., clarifying what makes someone “aggrieved” and able to bring a claim under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). We have addressed this issue in prior blogs, including here and here. The Supreme Court has now held an individual need not allege some actual injury or adverse effect to be “aggrieved” and have statutory standing. An individual can state a BIPA claim simply by alleging an entity’s failure to follow the statute’s notice and consent requirements. Continue Reading

National Labor Relations Board Issues Decision Overruling Obama-Era Independent Contractor Test: What This Means For (Putative) Employers

In a business-friendly decision issued on January 25, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) revised its test for determining whether putative independent contractors are exempt from coverage under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). See SuperShuttle DFW, Inc., 367 NLRB No. 75 (2019) (“SuperShuttle”). The Board’s SuperShuttle decision affirmed a 2010 Acting Regional Director’s decision that a group of franchisee airport shuttle operators were independent contractors. In the process, the Board overturned FedEx Home Delivery, 361 NLRB 610 (2014) (“FedEx”), an Obama-era decision that, according to the SuperShuttle Board, “significantly limited the importance of entrepreneurial opportunity” to the NLRB’s independent contractor test. Given this new development, employers should expect that, at least under the NLRA, it will be easier than before to show that a worker should be classified as an independent contractor (instead of an employee). Continue Reading

Recovering After the Shutdown: Proposed Legislation to Guarantee Back Pay for Government Contractors

After 35 days of the government shutdown, one of the (many) issues currently facing companies who contract with government agencies affected by the shutdown is if, when, and how, they must pay their employees upon the reopening of the government. Continue Reading

When the Government Shuts Down: The Impact on E-Verify, I-9’s, and Visas

Government shutdowns seem to be the norm these days. Whether they last 6 days or 60 days, the impact on E-Verify and visas is the same.

Since the partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22, 2018, while lawmakers discuss immigration reform for the future, several key functions of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are now being affected in ways that touch many individuals and employers.

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NLRB Issues Important Decision Regarding What Constitutes “Protected Concerted Activity” in Union and Union-Free Environments Under Federal Labor Law

In yet another case that impacts both union and non-union employers, the Republican-majority National Labor Relations Board (Board) overruled Obama-era precedent and substantially narrowed what is considered “protected concerted activities” by workers under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in Alstate Maintenance, 367 NLRB No. 68 (January 11, 2019).  In doing so, the Board expressly overturned WorldMark by Wyndham, 356 NLRB 765 (2011), which previously held that a single employee who gripes in a group setting is per se engaged in protected activities under the NLRA without regard to whether the employee is raising a group complaint or seeking to initiate, induce, or prepare for group action.

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SCOTUS Holds Independent Contractor Truck Drivers Exempt from Arbitration Under FAA

On January 15, 2019, the Supreme Court issued its decision in New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, where it decided independent contractor truck drivers cannot be forced into arbitration.  The Court’s decision is based on Federal Arbitration Act § 1, which excepts from coverage disputes involving “contracts of employment” with “workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.”  Continue Reading

California Legislature Amends Section 1542: Are Employer Settlement Agreements Now More Vulnerable to Attack?

On January 1, 2019, California’s Senate Bill No. 1431 went into effect, making a slight, but potentially significant amendment to Civil Code Section 1542. The prior version of the statute read: “A general release does not extend to claims which the creditor does not know or suspect to exist in his or her favor at the time of executing the release, which if known by him or her must have materially affected his or her settlement with the debtor.” SB 1431 amended Section 1542 to now read: “A general release does not extend to claims that the creditor or releasing party does not know or suspect to exist in his or her favor at the time of executing the release and that, if known by him or her, would have materially affected his or her settlement with the debtor or released party.” The amended version of the Code adds “releasing party” and “released party” alongside creditor and debtor, respectively, and also changes “must have materially affected” to “would have materially affected” the releasing party’s decision to settle. Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects ‘Wholly Groundless’ Exception to Delegation Clauses in Arbitration Agreements

On January 8, 2019, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc. strengthening the enforceability of arbitration “delegation clauses.” These clauses have been previously upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and allow parties to agree that an arbitrator, rather than a court, will decide the threshold issue of whether a dispute must be arbitrated, as well as the merits of the dispute. The Supreme Court in Henry Schein rejected a doctrine adopted by several federal Circuit Courts of Appeals and the California Court of Appeal, which permitted courts to decline to enforce delegation clauses if the underlying assertion of arbitrability was “wholly groundless.” Under Henry Schein, courts must refer questions of arbitrability to the arbitrator when the parties have agreed to a clear and unmistakable delegation, even if the court believes the claim of arbitrability is frivolous. Continue Reading

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