The end of 2020 was not the end of the California Legislature’s focus on employment-related legislation.  Just two months into the new year, the Legislature has already introduced several bills addressing the workplace that could impact employers who still may be implementing coronavirus-related legislation.  This article discusses two such bills on the horizon that employers will want to follow as they work their way through the Legislature.
Continue Reading California Legislative Update: Employment-Related Bills on the Horizon

Pursuant to Government Code Section 12999, employers of 100 or more employees, and at least one California employee, must report pay and hours worked data by establishment, job category, pay band, sex, race, and ethnicity to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).  The deadline to do so is March 31, 2021 and annually on every March 31 thereafter.  In enacting this legislation, the Legislature noted that hidden bias exists and is encouraging self-assessment of pay disparities along gendered, racial, and ethnic lines to encourage voluntary compliance with equal pay and anti-discrimination laws.
Continue Reading Upcoming Deadline for California Employers to Report Employee Pay and Hours Worked Data to the DFEH

The Ninth Circuit and the California legislature recently updated employer leave requirements, impacting California employers.  The Ninth Circuit recently handed down two decisions regarding leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), including a decision concerning what constitutes a “workweek” for FMLA purposes.  Additionally, as of January 1, 2021, smaller employers in California will have to grant 12 weeks of leave under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”).  Employers should consider these changes as they update their leave policies, especially as employees may take more extended leaves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Continue Reading California Employers Should Be Aware of Updates to Leave Requirements

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)—the agency tasked with enforcing federal labor laws—was deputized by Congress in 1972 with authority to bring lawsuits against employers for violating anti-discrimination laws and retaliating against employees.  Since then, the agency has made a concerted and aggressive effort to challenge, among other things, standard clauses in separation agreements that have the potential to chill former employees’ participation in legal actions against their former employers, including non-cooperation and covenant not to sue clauses.  This concern is especially salient in the age of COVID-19, where many employers are using separation agreements at a breakneck pace due to the unprecedented rate of employee layoffs, and EEOC enforcement actions may be just around the corner.
Continue Reading Employee Separation Agreements Likely to Face Increased EEOC Scrutiny

Substantial changes are afoot at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  Most notably, these include the firing of the NLRB’s General Counsel Peter Robb and the rescission of ten of Robb’s General Counsel Memoranda. The New Acting General Counsel further ordered the withdrawal of an unfair labor practice complaint against UNITE HERE challenging a pre-recognition neutrality agreement. This latter decision is at odds with guidance provided by the NLRB over the last several months and is certainly indicative of a transformation taking place at the agency under the Biden administration. These changes are discussed in detail below.
Continue Reading New Administration, New Direction as Acting NLRB General Counsel Rescinds 10 General Counsel Memos and Reverses Course on Neutrality Pacts With Unions

On January 20, 2021 – nearly a year after the law’s effective date – the New York Department of Labor (“NYDOL”) issued new guidance (the “Guidance”) for employers regarding the scope of available sick leave for employees subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 (“Quarantine Leave”).  The Guidance creates new obligations for employers in New York and clarifies certain limitations on Quarantine Leave.  It is also intended to supplement other guidance previously issued by the NYDOL, which remains in effect.
Continue Reading New York Department of Labor Significantly Expands COVID-19 Quarantine Leave

In a decision of considerable significance in the world of wage and hour litigation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit significantly departed from conventional standards for assessing conditional certification under Section 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  In Swales v. KLLM Transport Services, Inc., the Fifth Circuit rejected the conditional certification process entirely and drastically altered the procedure for assessing whether potential members of a collective action under the FLSA are “similarly situated.”
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Shuts Down FLSA Conditional Certification

On January 25, 2021, the NLRB Division of Advice (“the Division”) released a memo that may indicate a change in the way workers engaged in cannabis activities are covered under federal labor law. Under the NLRA, the right to form and join a union is limited to employees. Agricultural laborers do not have that right under federal law. Despite the fact that many workers in the cannabis industry are often involved in the cultivation and harvesting of a crop, they have typically been considered employees rather than agricultural laborers under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or “the Act”). This recently released advice memo (available here) reverses that interpretation.
Continue Reading NLRB’s Division of Advice Determines Certain Workers in the Cannabis Industry Are Exempt From Federal Labor Law

In Garcia v. Haralambos Beverage Co., the California Court of Appeal embraced the adage “time kills all deals” to conclude that an employer waived its right to arbitrate the wage-hour claims at issue in the case by, among other things, delaying two years to seek arbitration as a last resort and waiting to locate the plaintiffs’ signed arbitration agreements.  By waiving its right to arbitrate, the employer also lost its ability to strike class claims as a result.
Continue Reading Delaying Enforcement of Arbitration Agreements May Lead to Undesirable Consequences

On January 6, 2021, a bipartisan group of New York State lawmakers introduced Assembly Bill 27, the latest version of proposed privacy legislation that would allow consumers to sue companies for improperly using or retaining their biometric data. Better known as the Biometric Privacy Act (the “BPA”), the bill, if enacted, would impose significant compliance requirements for companies handling biometric data. The BPA would make New York State only the second state with a private right of action that includes statutory damages against entities that improperly use or retain biometric data. If the BPA is signed into law, it would likely bring a flood of class action litigation, similar to that seen in Illinois under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (the “Illinois BIPA”).
Continue Reading New York Proposes Biometric Privacy Act With Private Right of Action