On September 30, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (“AB”) 1947 into law.  Effective January 1, 2021, AB 1947 will, among other things, authorize courts to award attorneys’ fees to whistleblowers who prevail against employers under Labor Code section 1102.5.  This amendment will likely incentivize employees (and their lawyers) to bring retaliation claims against California employers.  For our previous analysis of this bill, click here.

Continue Reading Whistleblower Retaliation Lawsuits Are About to Become More Expensive in California

In Wadler v. Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc., No. 17-16193, 2019 WL 924827 (9th Cir. Feb. 26, 2019), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that statutes, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), do not constitute “rule[s] or regulation[s] of the Securities and Exchange Commission” (“SEC”) for purposes of determining whether an employee engaged in protected activity in a whistleblower claim under Section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“SOX”).  This decision clarifies the proper application of the express statutory language of Section 806.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Holds That Statutes Do Not Constitute “Rules or Regulations of the SEC” for Purposes of Sarbanes-Oxley Act Whistleblower Claims

A 21st Century Social Movement

In this age of interconnectivity, compelling societal movements have a never-before-seen speed and reach. Traditional means of spreading information and generating social change have been supplemented—if not outright replaced—by the near-instantaneous ability of an idea or cause to go viral on social media, regardless of its source. In 2018, the gatekeepers—and indeed, the gates—to disseminating content and generating popular support are being dismantled before our eyes. Nowhere over the past year was this more evident than in the #MeToo movement.
Continue Reading EEOC Data Confirms #MeToo’s Impact: Six Keys for Employers in the Wake of This Powerful Cultural Moment

In Franchina v. City of Providence, 2018 WL 550511, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1919 (1st Cir., Jan. 25, 2018), the First Circuit offered no sympathy to the City in its appeal of a jury award that found the City’s fire department liable for tormenting a former lieutenant on the basis of her sex. The court’s sentiments were readily apparent from the outset of its opinion, which admittedly “decline[d] to put out flames of the Department’s own making.”

Harassment at the Firehouse

In the underlying trial, the plaintiff testified at length about the workplace harassment she experienced, which began after a superior filed a complaint on her behalf about another firefighter’s sexual misconduct toward her. Following the harassing firefighter’s discipline, the plaintiff was exposed to escalating verbal and physical mistreatment. The plaintiff’s colleagues referred to her in derogatory terms, physically assaulted her, gave her poisoned meals, refused to cooperate in providing emergency care at the peril of civilian lives, and once even flung the blood and brain matter of a suicide victim into her face. Despite awareness of these incidents, the Department failed to intervene. On these facts, the jury awarded the plaintiff front pay in the amount of $545,000  and a separate figure for emotional damages.
Continue Reading Sex + Discrimination = Liability, Says First Circuit

As reported in our new laws for 2017 post, employers must give written notice to new employees (and to current employees upon request) explaining the rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. All California employers with at least 25 employees must be in compliance, effective July 1, 2017.
Continue Reading Now in Effect: California Employers Must Provide New Hires with Written Notice of Victim Rights

Earlier this year, we reported that New York City adopted The Establishing Protections for Freelance Workers Act, also known as the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, (the “Freelance Law”). As explained in our prior blog, under the Freelance Law, a company must: (1) provide a written contract when it contracts with a freelance worker for services worth $800 or more, (2) ensure that all payments to freelance workers are made on a timely basis and paid in full, and (3) prohibit any type of retaliatory or adverse action against freelance workers for exercising the rights granted to them under the Freelance Law.
Continue Reading UPDATE: NYC Adopts New Rules Implementing Freelance Law

The Establishing Protections for Freelance Workers Act, also known as the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, (the “Freelance Law”), which was touted by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as the first law in the nation aimed at protecting wage payment rights of freelance workers, became effective last Monday, May 15, 2017. The Freelance Law imposes specific requirements on companies located in New York City that contract with freelance workers, including requiring a written freelance contract, requiring companies to pay freelancers timely and in full, prohibiting retaliation against freelancers who exercise their rights under the Freelance Law, and creating penalties against companies who fail to comply with these requirements.  
Continue Reading New Freelancer Law Imposes Additional Requirements For NYC Companies Contracting With Freelancers

The new year will bring along a variety of new obligations for California employers.  Although some of the new laws clarify existing law and provide helpful guidance, several impose additional requirements.  This update highlights key provisions of some of the more notable changes taking effect in 2017.  Links to the statutes and/or prior updates regarding the same are provided where applicable.
Continue Reading California Employers – New Year, New Rules in 2017

On August 1, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charles Barker signed the Act to Establish Pay Equity.  The Act, which makes several important changes to Massachusetts wage laws, will go into effect on July 1, 2018.
Continue Reading Massachusetts – The Latest Jurisdiction to Update Its Pay Equity Laws

In Luis Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, the California Court of Appeal held that California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) – which requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities – now requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees who are associated with a disabled person.  This is an unprecedented decision and will likely to be appealed.  Until that time, employers should train supervisors to seek assistance from human resources when making accommodations decisions, and to treat any such decisions on a case-by-case basis.
Continue Reading Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express: The Reasonable Accommodation of an Employee’s Family