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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…)

California Appellate Court Confirms That Arbitration Clauses Can Include Provisional Relief By Courts

When an employer determines to implement an arbitration clause program with its employees, one concern is that provisional relief deemed critical to prevent the loss of clients, employees, or devaluing of company trade secrets is unavailable or less effective.  However, the California Arbitration Act (where it applies), has a statutory allowance for access to the courts for certain provisional remedies (such as TROs), as an aid to an arbitration proceeding.  California Code Civil Procedure (“CC”) section 1281.8.  Importantly for employers, the recent appellate court decision Baltazar v. Forever 21, Inc. (2012) 212 Cal.App.4th 221, confirms that invoking section 1281.8 as part of an arbitration clause will not make it unenforceable. (more…)

Update: 2013 California Employment Laws To Watch

New California employment laws will be effective as of January 1, 2013.  Some of the laws that employers are likely to regularly run into are summarized below. Are you ready?

Commission contracts now must be written, and may survive expiration

Starting January 1, 2013, employers are required to provide commissioned employees with written contracts that set forth the applicable formula for calculating the commissions and method of payment.  (AB 1396, AB 2675).  The new laws apply to both in-state and out-of-state employers, require that employers provide copies of the signed commission contracts to their employees, and also require that employers obtain signed receipts from the employees for such contracts.  Even if a contract governing commissions expires, the terms will “live on” past the contract’s date of expiration until the parties enter into a new agreement or until the employment is terminated.

Action plan: Review your variable compensation contracts to identify those that are commission-based.  If the contracts are not spelled out in sufficient detail, prepare compliant agreements to be effective January 1, 2013.  Obtain signatures, get receipts and maintain your records.  Calendar when existing contracts are set to expire, so that any new terms, if needed, can be added. (more…)