BUSINESS BRIEF:

QUARTERLY EMPLOYMENT LAW

UPDATES

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By: Phillip Maltin

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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By: Ricardo Rozen

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

ON THE HORIZON:

CASES PENDING BEFORE THE CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATES > CASES PENDING

California Supreme Court will Clarify Whether the Termination of a News Media Producer by a News Outlet Constitutes the Exercise of Free Speech

SUMMARY: The Plaintiff is a 51-year-old African-and Latino-American who worked for CNN for 18 years, 16 of them as a producer.  A new Western bureau chief refused to promote him, and ultimately fired him, largely because he believed that Plaintiff had plagiarized passages of a story he produced.  The Plaintiff sued CNN for discrimination based on age, race, color, ancestry and association with a person with a disability, and defamation, among other claims. 

The California Supreme Court Will Review the Arbitrability of PAGA Claims Involving Unpaid Wages

SUMMARY: The Plaintiff, an employee of a bank, had signed an agreement to arbitrate disputes with her employer. The employee filed suit in state court under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) seeking penalties and underpaid wages under Labor Code section 558 on behalf of herself and other “aggrieved employees.” The trial court ordered the matter into arbitration.

Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Asks the California Supreme Court to Decide When Out-of-State Employers Must Comply with California Wage Laws

SUMMARY: The Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is considering three cases involving class actions by airline workers under the California Labor Code, related to two sets of airline employees.  The first set is employees working in California under a collective bargaining agreement. 

Must Trial Courts Order Certain Union Employees to Arbitrate Their Claims for Unpaid Wages Upon Termination? 

SUMMARY: A security guard for the San Francisco Giants alleged the baseball team failed to pay him final wages, on time, upon termination, under Labor Code section 201.  A collective bargaining agreement governs his employment.  

Breaks and Premium Pay? California Supreme Court to Review Break and Pay Policies for Ambulance Workers

SUMMARY: The Plaintiff, an ambulance driver worked 24-hour shifts, was paid for all 24-hours and received his meal and rest breaks, but was on call for emergencies during them. 

Correctional Officers May Be Entitled to Compensation for Time Spent Under the Employer’s Control Before and After Their Scheduled Shifts

SUMMARY: Correctional officers filed a class action against the state alleging it did not compensate them for all time spent completing tasks (for example, putting on their gear) in advance of or after their shifts.  The California Court of Appeal determined that the Fair Labor Standards Act applies to unionized correctional officers because their collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) calls for the FLSA to apply when determining hours worked. 

May an Employee Recover Unpaid Wages in a Conversion Lawsuit, Inclusive of Emotional Distress Damages? 

SUMMARY: The employee agreed to work for both wages and an ownership interest in the company. When the company did not pay the Employee, and withheld the stock certificates, the employee sued under traditional wage and hour laws and under the common law claim of civil theft called “conversion.”  The Court of Appeal recognized that adequate remedies already exist in the Labor Code for unpaid wages and refused to extend the tort of conversion to claims for unpaid wages. 

California Supreme Court Will Determine (i) Whether to Enforce Arbitration Agreements that Bar Employees from Bringing Claims Before the Labor Commissioner, and (ii) When a Demand for Arbitration Must Be Made to Avoid Waiver

SUMMARY: The Court of Appeal reversed a trial court’s order denying an employer’s motion to compel the employee to arbitrate claims for unpaid wages the employee filed with the California Labor Commissioner.  The appellate court ruled that arbitration, as a means of resolving the dispute, is sufficiently “accessible and affordable” when compared to “Berman” hearings at the Labor Commissioner. 

An Employer that Settles a Plaintiff’s Individual Labor Code Claims May Defeat Associated PAGA Claims

SUMMARY: An employee sued alleging wage and hour claims against his former employer both as an individual and as a representative of other employees in a Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) action.  The employee had signed an arbitration agreement during his employment.  

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