On May 16, 2024, the United States Supreme Court resolved a circuit split regarding whether Section 3 of the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) provides trial courts the discretion to dismiss a lawsuit when all claims are subject to arbitration. In Smith v. Spizzirri, a unanimous Court ruled trial courts do not have discretion to dismiss a lawsuit that involves an arbitrable dispute, and must instead stay the proceedings.Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules Trial Courts Must Stay, Not Dismiss, Lawsuits During Arbitration

On May 10, 2024, the Ninth Circuit decided Yuriria Diaz v. Macy’s West Stores, after the employer appealed the district court’s decision ordering arbitration of both an employee’s individual and non-individual claims under the California Private Attorney Generals Act (PAGA). The Ninth Circuit held that even though the arbitration agreement made no mention of PAGA, an employee’s individual PAGA claim was still subject to arbitration because the parties’ intended to arbitrate all employment disputes between them. However the non-individual PAGA claims were not arbitrable, because the parties did not consent to arbitration of those claims. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Rules That Only Individual PAGA Claims Can Be Compelled to Arbitration

On February 12, 2024, the Ninth Circuit in Johnson v. Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC, 93 F.4th 459 (9th Cir. 2024) vacated a district court’s dismissal of a former employee’s nonindividual PAGA claims and remanded the nonindividual claims to allow the district court to apply California law as interpreted in Adolph v. Uber Techs., Inc., 14 Cal. 5th 1104 (2023) (“Adolph”).Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Applies Adolph, Vacating Lower Court’s Dismissal of Employee’s Nonindividual PAGA Claims

Beginning on March 12, 2024, a new social media privacy law for employees and job applicants goes into effect in New York. The new law will amend the New York Labor Law (the “NYLL”) to restrict most employers from accessing the personal social media accounts of employees and job applicants. The new restrictions were approved when Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law two bills, Assembly Bill 836 (A836) and Senate Bill 2518A (S2518A), on September 14, 2023.Continue Reading Safe for Work? New Social Media Privacy Law Affecting New York Employers Goes into Effect on March 12

Major changes are coming to the Minor League. In April, Major League Baseball (MLB) players and owners voted to ratify a historic collective bargaining agreement that, for the first time in history, covers Minor League players. MLB owners voted unanimously to ratify the agreement on April 3, following a March 31 vote in which more than 99 percent of Minor League players voted to ratify the agreement. The five-year agreement, which was negotiated by MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA), more than doubles the salaries at all Minor League levels and provides that Minor League players will be paid almost year-round.Continue Reading A Major Deal for the Minor League: California Bill Paves the Way for Historic Collective Bargaining Agreement for Minor League Baseball

On September 6, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation amending the New York Penal Law making wage theft a criminal larceny. Under the penal code, “[a] person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.” N.Y. Penal Law § 155.05(1). The amendment adds “compensation for labor services” to the definition of “property” applicable to larcenies. Id. § 155.00(1).Continue Reading New York Makes Wage Theft a Criminal Larceny in New Amendment to Its Penal Law

As you have no doubt seen in the news, and may have even experienced first-hand, there have been extreme weather conditions throughout the country, including fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. When natural disasters strike and employees cannot work because of them, companies are faced with numerous employment-related issues that require immediate attention. In addition to various federal laws being implicated, including those below, state-specific employment laws may also be triggered, and a unionized workforce may also prompt additional considerations. Continue Reading Employers Under Fire: How to Address Employee Pay and Related Issues When Faced with Natural Disasters

Illinois is the latest in a growing trend among states and cities throughout the country to enact salary transparency laws. Illinois joins the ranks of California, Washington and Colorado, among others, requiring employers to disclose pay scale and benefits in job postings. On August 11, 2023, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 3129 into law. Like its California, Washington and Colorado counterparts, the Illinois law is rooted in historic pay inequity among marginalized groups. The law amends Illinois’ Equal Pay Act and, beginning January 1, 2025, requires employers with 15 or more employees to disclose pay scales and benefits in job postings, as well as retain records of compliance with the amended law. Continue Reading Illinois is the Latest State to Enact a Salary Transparency Law

On July 13, 2023, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) announced the launch of a three-year National Emphasis Program meant to prevent workplace hazards in warehouses, processing facilities, distribution centers, and high-risk retail establishments. OSHA’s announcement explains that warehousing and distribution centers have experienced tremendous growth over the past 10 years, with over 1.9 million people currently employed in the related industries. OSHA also notes that data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows the injury and illness rate for warehousing and distribution centers is higher than the overall rate for private industry.Continue Reading OSHA’s New National Emphasis Program Aimed at Preventing Warehouse Injury and Heat Hazards and Its Possible Implications on California

On July 17, 2023, the California Supreme Court decided an important state law issue raised by the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, 142 S. Ct. 1906 (2022). Viking River Cruises held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires enforcement of an agreement to arbitrate California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims arising from alleged California Labor Code violations against the named plaintiff, notwithstanding the prior California authority that PAGA claims cannot be “split” into “representative” and “individual” components. In a short paragraph at the end of its decision in Viking River Cruises, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a PAGA plaintiff lacks statutory standing to pursue PAGA claims arising out of alleged Labor Code violations committed against other employees when the claims arising from violations against the named plaintiff have been “pared away” to arbitration. However, because statutory standing is an issue of state law, state courts were not bound by the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation, a point that Justice Sotomayor flagged in a concurrence. In Adolph v. Uber Techs., Inc., No. S274671, 2023 WL 4553702 (2023), the California Supreme Court disagreed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of PAGA’s standing requirement and held that a PAGA plaintiff retains standing to sue for alleged Labor Code violations committed against non-party employees when the claims arising from alleged violations against the plaintiff have been compelled to arbitration.Continue Reading California Supreme Court Clarifies PAGA Standing When “Individual PAGA Claims” Have Been Compelled to Arbitration

At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows Of Harvard College, Nos. 20-1199 & 21-707, 2023 WL 4239254 (U.S. June 29, 2023), outlawed race-based affirmative action in higher education. Splitting along ideological lines, the Court’s conservative supermajority ruled, 6-3, the college admissions programs of Harvard and the University of North Carolina violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The monumental decision, which dispensed with 45 years of precedent allowing race-conscious admission policies to achieve a diverse student body, has upended the world of higher education.Continue Reading What Does Affirmative Action’s Death Knell Mean for Employers?