Labor and Employment Law

Newly-Published Labor and Employment Law Cases

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California Business & Industrial Alliance v. Becerra (CA4/3 G059561 6/30/22) 
California’s Private Attorneys General Act does not violate the separation of powers doctrine by allowing private citizens to seek civil penalties on the state’s behalf without the executive branch exercising sufficient prosecutorial discretion. PAGA is not meaningfully distinguishable from comparable qui tam statutes outside the employment context.

Hamilton v. Wal-Mart Stores (9th Cir. 19-56161 6/30/22) PAGA/Manageability 
Claims under California’s Private Attorneys General Act may not be dismissed for failure to meet the manageability requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.

Grande v. Eisenhower Medical Center (SC S261247 6/30/22) Privity/Wage & Hour/UCL 
Grande settled a prior lawsuit alleging wage and hour claims against the staffing agency that placed her at the hospital, which was not named as a released party in the settlement. Claim preclusion did not apply to Grande’s subsequent suit against the hospital alleging the same wage and hour claims because the hospital was not in privity with the staffing agency.

Essick v. County of Sonoma (CA1/4 A162887 6/29/22) Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act 
Outside investigator’s report evaluating County supervisor’s harassment claims against the elected County sheriff was not a personnel record under Penal Code section 832.8, and thus not exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act, because the County is not the sheriff’s employing agency nor did it become the sheriff’s employer by commissioning the investigation.

Callahan v. Brookdale Senior Living Cmties. (9th Cir. 20-55603 6/29/22) PAGA Intervention 
Plaintiff in separate Private Attorneys General Act lawsuit against same employer was properly denied intervention by the district court, and therefore lacked standing to appeal the district court’s approval of the PAGA settlement in this case.

Torres v. Texas Dep’t of Public Safety (US 20–603 6/29/22) USERRA/Sovereign Immunity
States do not have sovereign immunity against claims brought under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.

Seviour-Iloff v. LaPaille (CA1/1 A163503 6/28/22) Wage and Hour 
The statute of limitations on a claim for unpaid wages under Labor Code section 98 begins to run on the date the claimant files the claim, as long as the claim substantially complies with the definition of a complaint in Department of Labor Standards Enforcement regulations. Labor Code section 1197.1 allows a private cause of action against an individual responsible for underpaid wages. Calculation of waiting time penalties must include the value of employees’ employer-provided housing.

Broome v. The Regents of the U. of Cal. (CA1/5 A160591.6/27/22) Public Employment Pension Benefits 
Plaintiff retirees did not have a vested contractual right to pension benefits based on salary higher than the maximum compensation limitation imposed by federal tax law. Although the University’s Regents had adopted a resolution allowing for salary above the cap to be considered in calculating pension benefits, the resolution was never implemented and neither its language nor extrinsic evidence showed an intent to create a contractual right to the higher salary base for pension benefits.

Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (US 21–418 6/27/22) First Amendment Freedom of Religion/Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses 
Public school football coach’s on-field prayer after end of game was protected by the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment, and thus could not be the basis for discipline by the school district.

P. ex rel. Spitzer v. AWI Builders, Inc. (CA4/3 G059795A 6/22/22) Unfair Competition Law/Labor and Employment Practices in Public Works
In civil enforcement action by district attorney under the Unfair Competition Law (Business & Professions Code § 17200 et seq.), the trial court properly denied a motion to recuse the district attorney based on alleged mishandling of privileged material obtained via search warrants in an earlier criminal investigation.

Allen v. Santa Clara Cty. CPOA (9th Cir. 19-17217 6/23/22) Pre-Janus Agency Fees 
Extending Danielson v. Inslee, 945 F.3d 1096 (9th Cir. 2019), the court held that public employers have a good faith defense to a claim for a refund of pre-Janus agency fees.

County of Sonoma v. Pub. Employment Relations Bd. (CA1/3 A163100 6/23/22) PERB/Meyers-Milias-Brown Act 
The court remanded for the Public Employment Relations Board to determine whether voter-approved amendments to the ordinance governing the County’s civilian law enforcement oversight commission had a significant and adverse effect on officers’ terms and conditions of employment such that they were subject to negotiation with officers’ unions before adoption. The court further held that PERB’s remedial authority was limited to declaring void the Board of Supervisors’ action placing the measure on the ballot and does not extend to declaring void the ordinance amendments themselves.

Garcia v. Super. Ct. (CA2/5 B315701 6/21/22) Meal and Rest Breaks/Pre-FMCSA Order 
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2018 order concluding that California’s meal and rest break rules are preempted by federal law does not bar meal and rest break claims based on conduct that predated the order.

Meza v. Pacific Bell Telephone Co. (CA2/3 B317119 6/17/22) Wage Statements 
Labor Code section 226(a) does not require an employer to list on a wage statement the overtime rates and hours from prior pay periods underlying a subsequent bonus based on those overtime hours.

Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana (US 20–1573 6/15/22) FAA Preemption/PAGA 
The Federal Arbitration Act preempts the rule of Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal. 4th 348, insofar as it precludes division of Private Attorneys General Act actions into individual and non-individual claims through an agreement to arbitrate. Iskanian’s prohibition on wholesale waivers of PAGA claims is not preempted by the FAA.

Johnson v. WinCo Foods (9th Cir. 21-55501 6/13/22) Job Applicants/Pre-Employment Drug Testing 
Plaintiffs were not entitled to wages and reimbursement of expenses under the Labor Code and Unfair Competition Law (Business & Professions Code § 17200 et seq.) for time spent travelling to and from, and undergoing, mandatory drug testing as part of WinCo’s hiring process because they were not employees at the time of the testing.

People v. Maplebear, Inc. (CA4/1 D079209M, filed 5/18/22, mod. 6/6/22) Misclassification/Arbitration
Instacart’s arbitration agreements with individual gig workers did not apply to enforcement action brought by city attorney under Unfair Competition Law (Business & Professions Code § 17200 et seq.) claiming employer misclassified the workers as independent contractors.

Belaustegui v. ILWU (9th Cir. 21-55434 6/7/22) USERRA Discrimination 
A longshore worker who returned to employment after military service could pursue a discrimination claim under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) because (1) credits toward employment time for military service granted under a collective bargaining agreement are “benefits of employment” under USERRA, and (2) USERRA required the employer to reinstate him to the position he was reasonably certain to have attained absent his military service.

Southwest Airlines Co. v. Saxon (US 21-309 6/6/22) Arbitration/Airline Cargo Loaders 
Workers who load and unload cargo and baggage from airplanes are not subject to the Federal Arbitration Act because they belong to a “class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce” and thus are excluded from coverage under Section 1 of the Act.

Owino v. CoreCivic (9th Cir. 21-55221 6/3/22) Class Certification / Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act 
District court properly certified three classes in an action brought by individuals who were incarcerated in immigration detention facilities owned by CoreCivic. Plaintiffs presented significant proof of a classwide policy of forced labor and that narrowing of two classes based on the statute of limitations was not required at the certification stage.

Vatalaro v. County of Sacramento (CA3 C090896, filed 5/5/22, pub. ord. 6/1/22) Labor Code section 1102.5 Whistleblower Retaliation
Summary judgment properly granted to County where it satisfied its burden under Labor Code section 1102.6 to show by clear and convincing evidence that it would have released Vatalaro from probation even if she had never complained about her assignments.

Morgan v. Sundance, Inc. (US 21–328 5/23/22) Arbitration 
The Federal Arbitration Act’s “policy favoring arbitration” does not grant federal courts license to create arbitration-specific variants of federal procedural rules, like those concerning waiver. Rather, the FAA is intended “to place [arbitration] agreements upon the same footing as other contracts.” Thus, to establish a party waived its right to arbitrate, the party opposing arbitration need not prove that the moving party’s delay in asserting its right to arbitrate prejudiced the opposing party.

Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc. (SC S258966 5/23/22) Missed Meal Break Pay = Wages | Prejudgment Interest = 7% 
If an employer unlawfully makes an employee work during all or part of a meal or rest period, the employer must pay the employee an additional hour of pay. (Lab. Code, § 226.7, subd. (c).) This additional hour of pay constitutes wages subject to the same timing and reporting rules as other forms of compensation for work because, while it is designed to compensate for the unlawful deprivation of a guaranteed break, it also compensates for the work the employee performed during the break period. Labor Code section 218.6, which provides a 10% prejudgment interest rate to claims for nonpayment of wages, does not apply to claims for missed meal and rest periods under Labor Code section 226.7, and therefore the default constitutional interest rate of 7% applies to such claims.

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