Blog

Employment Challenges in a Holocratic Work Environment

Many Silicon Valley start-up companies, as well as larger companies such as Zappos, have moved from a traditionally structured work environment to a “holocracy” model. Essentially, while there are lots of variations, a holocracy model is a “boss free” business environment that focuses less on a structured workplace with traditional job descriptions and job titles, and more on creating self-organized “circles” of workers that concentrate on specific goals. Each circle of workers is a self-organized entity with the authority to manage itself, and the circle is ultimately part of a larger circle within the company. In addition, there is a general principle of transparency in the organization’s rules and decision-making. For companies that are able to tolerate a high level of adaptability, have motivated workers, and are established and mature enough to bounce back if things do not work out as anticipated, this is a highly attractive work model. However, this organizational model raises a host of potential employment issues, a few of which are highlighted below:

(more…)

Employment Law Update: What’s In Store for California Employers in 2017 and Beyond?

In 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed numerous laws that will affect California employers. Here are some of the new laws that employers need to be aware of:

Employers Are Not Required to State Hours Worked on Wage Statements of OT Exempt Employees

AB 2535 clarifies the wage statement requirements for tracking hours worked for exempt employees. The bill was passed following the federal court decision in Garnett v. ADT, LLC, which held that employers must include total hours worked on pay stubs for exempt outside sales employees and executives because they received bonuses and stock options. Under the new law, employers are not required to provide itemized wage statements to employees if the “employee’s compensation is solely based on salary and the employee is exempt from payment of overtime,” or the “employee is exempt from the payment of minimum wage and overtime under …any applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission” and specified statutes. (more…)

The Election Is Over, Now What?

The 2016 Presidential election will go down as one of the most unpredictable, polarizing and controversial elections ever to occur in United States history. Although it was anticipated that the House of Representatives would remain controlled by the Republicans, the race was decidedly less clear with regard to control of the White House and Senate. But now that Republicans have won both majorities in the House and the Senate, and President-elect Donald Trump is in the midst of making selections of who will serve in his administration, what impact will this election have for employers? The outlook is murky at best. (more…)

Travel Time Compensation in California

Employee-Compensation

California law requires that employers pay employees for all hours worked. The term “hours worked,” however, is not all that simple to define or apply. The analysis is compounded when the hours worked are, for instance, part of the employee’s commute, consist of travel to a remote conference, or spent moving from client to client throughout the day. Once you conclude the time is “worked,” you must include those numbers in overtime calculations, and decide whether you want to pay travel at a different rate than the employee’s regular rate of pay. (more…)

2016 Brings Major Changes to California Employment Laws

There are a myriad of new California employment laws on the books as of January 1, 2016. This is a friendly reminder to check and update your handbooks, posters, contracts, and handouts so you remain in compliance with state law.

1. Labor Commissioner’s Authority to Enforce Judgments for Wage Theft Expands With Enactment of the New California Fair Day’s Pay Act (SB 588)

California’s Senate Bill (“SB”) 588, known as the California Fair Day’s Pay Act, adds teeth to the California Labor Commissioner’s ability to enforce judgments for wage theft. (more…)

Whose Cell Is It Anyway? Appellate Court Rules California Employers Must Reimburse for Cell Phone Expenses

According to the Pew Research Center, as of January 2014, ninety percent of American adults have a cell phone, while fifty-eight percent of American adults have a smartphone. It is undeniable that mobile technology is fully engrained into our everyday lives. Our mobile handsets no longer simply function as communication tools; rather they are precious multi- and cross-functional devices connecting us to the world and to the community. Slowly, everything is being funneled into our smartphones: personal and professional communications, word and data processing, amateur photography and videography, numerous social media platforms for marketing and advertising, streaming film and television, educational tools and texts, lectures and podcasts, etc. As pervasive as they are, it is no wonder that lines begin to blur as it relates to the ownership of technology, especially in the workplace. (more…)

Alert — California Supreme Court Rules on Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements with Mixed Results for Employers and Employees

In a long-anticipated ruling, on June 23, 2014, the California Supreme Court held in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC., that mandatory class action waivers in pre-employment arbitration agreements are enforceable, following the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision AT&T v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (U.S. 2011). However, despite this victory for employers with arbitration programs, the Iskanian court also held that representative claims brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) may not be waived in such agreements, with the net result mixed for employers and employees. (more…)

Update: 2014 Employment Laws

2014 will bring new laws for California employers, including an increase in the minimum wage, refinements to existing protections for employees, an expansion in the scope of discrimination protections, and additional protections to immigrant laborers.

AB 10 – Minimum Wage Increases: The state’s minimum wage will increase to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014, and $10 per hour on January 1, 2016.  Employers should plan for these increases, both for their hourly employees who are paid minimum wage, and for exempt administrative, executive and professional employees who must be paid a salary equal to at least two times the minimum wage in order to qualify as exempt.  Thus, the exempt minimum salary will jump to $37,440 on July 1, 2014, and $41,600 on January 1, 2016. (more…)

An Ambiguous Employment Promise Can Still Support a Lawsuit

California’s Sixth Appellate District recently examined the question of just how vague an employment promise can be to be enforceable as a contract and to serve as the basis for a claim of misrepresentation/concealment.  In Moncada v. West Coast Quartz (Cal.App.6th Dist., Nov. 2013), plaintiffs worked for West Coast Quartz Corporation (West Coast).  Defendants were the owners and sole shareholders of West Coast.  Defendants were preparing to sell West Coast, and wanted plaintiffs to continue to work for the company until the sale was complete.  To accomplish that end, defendants repeatedly promised plaintiffs that if they continued to work for West Coast until the sale, they would be paid a bonus from the sale proceeds that would be sufficient for them to retire.  Plaintiffs remained at West Coast for five years following defendants’ initial promise of the retirement bonus, rejecting job offers from other companies, and opportunities to move out of the area.  However, when defendants sold West Coast in 2009 for approximately $30 million, they did not pay plaintiffs the promised bonus. (more…)

California Supreme Court Weighs in on the Unconscionability Defense to Arbitration Agreements in light of the Arbitration-favorable US Supreme Court decision in AT&T v. Concepcion.

In Sonic-Calabasas v. Moreno (Sonic II), the California Supreme Court recently clarified the scope of the state law doctrine of unconscionability as applied to arbitration agreements in light of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in AT&T v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (U.S. 2011). Sonic II is the Court’s first attempt at reconciling California law with Concepcion, which clarified the limitations that the Federal Arbitration Act imposes on a state’s capacity to enforce its rules of unconscionability on parties to arbitration agreements.[1] Sonic II is the first of four cases that the California high court is scheduled to consider this year that will decide how California courts will navigate the new legal framework for arbitration agreements created by Concepcion. (more…)