Labor and Employment Law

Newly-Published Labor and Employment Cases

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Thole v. U. S. Bank N. A. (US 17-1712 6/1/20) ERISA/Standing 
The United States Supreme Court held that plaintiffs lacked Article III standing because, win or lose, they would still receive the exact same monthly benefits they are already entitled to receive.

N. L. v. Credit One Bank, N.A. (9th Cir. 19-15399 6/3/20) Class Representative Settlement/Washington State Meal Break Law
The 9th Circuit held that where class representative voluntarily settles only his individual claims without indicating any financial stake in the unresolved class claims [regarding Washington state meal break law] it renders the class claims moot, and therefore the appeal should be dismissed.

Obbard v. State Bar of California (CA1/5 A155106 4/28/20) Superior Court Research Attorneys are State of California Employees Not Subject to MCLE
The State Bar of California (State Bar) argued that respondent Philip B. Obbard, a research attorney for the Superior Court of the State of California, is not a state employee and is not, therefore, exempt from the State Bar’s mandatory continuing legal education requirements.  (See Bus. & Prof. Code, § 6070, subd. (c) [exempting “employees of the State of California”]). The trial court disagreed and entered judgment for Obbard.  The Court of Appeal affirmed.

Williams v. U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc. (CA1/4 A156226 6/8/20) Wage and Hour Class Action/Arbitration 
The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order dismissing plaintiff’s class claims and compelling arbitration of his individual claims. In a class action, an order denying certification to a proposed class does not preclude an absent member of the putative class from later seeking to certify an identical class in a second action.  (Smith v. Bayer Corp. (2011) 564 U.S. 299, 312–316 (Smith); Bridgeford v. Pacific Health Corp. (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 1034, 1041–1044 (Bridgeford).)  In this [wage and hour] case, the 9th circuit was called upon to determine a closely related question: whether collateral estoppel bars an absent member in a putative class that was initially certified, but later decertified, from subsequently pursuing an identical class action.

Trejo v. County of Los Angeles
 (CA2/1 B293564 6/9/20) Civil Service/Probation by Reassignment
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s issuance of a writ of mandate directing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to reinstate a deputy as permanent civil service employee. Deputy sheriff challenged his employer’s practice of extending probation while investigating the deputy’s claimed misconduct as violating the Los Angeles County Civil Service Rules.  Trial court agreed with deputy and issued a writ of mandate. The Court of Appeal held that the plain language of the rules does not authorize the department’s practice of extending probation by re-assigning deputies under investigation to administrative duty.  The Court of Appeal also agreed that the deputy did not fail to exhaust administrative remedies.

Horne v. Ahern Rentals, Inc. (CA2/8 B299605 6/10/20) Hirer’s Responsibility for Contractor Employee Injury
The Court of Appeal confirmed the trial court’s granting of the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The family of an employee of an independent contractor sued the hirer of the independent contractor, alleging the hirer’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the employee’s death.  With some exceptions, such suits are barred by the Privette rule.  (Privette v. Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 689 (Privette).)  One of those exceptions is that a hirer is liable for injury to an employee of a contractor if the hirer exercised control over safety conditions at the worksite in a way that affirmatively contributed to the employee’s injuries.  (Hooker v. Department of Transportation (2002) 27 Cal.4th 198, 202 (Hooker).) Here plaintiffs failed to present evidence that defendant affirmatively contributed to decedent’s injuries under Hooker’s retained control exception to the Privette rule.

Gutierrez v. Brand Energy Services of Calif. (CA1/3 A154604 6/16/20) Pre-Shift Employer-Mandated Travel Time/CBA
The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment entered by the trial court in favor of the defendant and remanded back for further proceedings. Plaintiff, a former Brand employee, sued Brand for nonpayment of his pre-shift employer-mandated travel time in violation of several Labor Code and Business and Professions Code provisions.  Plaintiff brought this lawsuit on his own behalf and on behalf of a proposed class of similarly situated persons.

In granting summary judgment for Brand prior to class certification, the trial court found a complete defense existed with respect to each of plaintiff’s causes of action under California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 16‑2001, section 5(D) (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11160(5)(D)).  According to the trial court, this provision permitted union-represented employees and their employers to enter into collective bargaining agreements (CBA’s) that waived the right to all compensation for employer-mandated travel time.  The trial court further found that the applicable CBA’s in this case, as amended by a June 2017 letter of understanding (LOU), confirmed a bargained-for practice wherein Brand compensated its employees for post-shift mandatory travel time but not pre-shift mandatory travel time.

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