California Protects Unpaid Interns
Joining a growing number of states, California has enacted a new law that provides employment protections to unpaid interns. In late September, Governor Jerry Brown made California the fourth state in the country (and fifth jurisdiction, including Washington, D.C.) by banning sexual harassment and discrimination against unpaid interns in the workplace. California protects unpaid interns via a statute that extends California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act not only to unpaid interns but to volunteers and individuals in apprenticeship training programs as well. Oregon was the first state to enact such protections in 2013, followed by Illinois and New York this summer. With the passage of California’s law – and similar legislation being considered in states such as Michigan – employers need to be cognizant of the growing trend to extend the protections of employment laws to unpaid interns.
The legal status of unpaid interns is a hot topic in the
FLSA Pleading Requirements
The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, establishes standards such as the national minimum wage rate, the 40-hour work week, and overtime pay equivalent to one and a half times an employee’s regular rate of pay. Historically, the pleading requirements for FLSA claims have been relatively relaxed, and a plaintiff only needed to make bare allegations of statutory violations to advance to the discovery phase of litigation. However, with the large number of
Genetic Information Discrimination
According to a release by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), three southern California seed and fertilizer providers will pay $187,500 to settle a genetic information and disability discrimination lawsuit. The suit was filed by the EEOC on behalf of a class of job applicants who were subjected to illegal medical exams and family medical history inquiries.
The EEOC contended that the agricultural companies (All Star Seed, Inc., La Valle Sabbia and Abatti), which operated as a single employer, required job applicants to undergo physical exams and fill out health questionnaires as a condition of employment that violates federal laws. The EEOC charged that the questionnaires contained improper inquiries about the applicants’ medical conditions and family medical histories, also known as genetic information.
One applicant was denied hire as a result of a physical examination and drug test which solicited disability-related information and family medical history unrelated to the job. After a prior medical condition was revealed, the applicant was denied hire due to his perceived disability even though the prior condition had no correlation to the work he was currently successfully performing.
The United States Supreme Court will determine if Iskanian will be taken up at its conference meeting on January 9th. The Conference meeting is a closed door meeting without clerks and only the nine justices present. The results of the conference will be made public on January 12th at 7:00 PST.
We all hoping the justices have a relaxed and happy holiday and they come back to work with full dockets and no desire to wade further in arbitration jurisprudence.
With respect to minimum wage, the elections on November 4, 2014 changed more than Congressional power in D.C. As the debate rolls on regarding the federal minimum wage rate, San Francisco and Oakland voted to increase their local minimum wage rates during the recent midterm elections. In doing so, San Francisco became the second U.S. city to raise its minimum wage to $15.00 per hour, while Oakland raised its minimum wage to $12.25 per hour.
San Francisco’s new minimum wage increases from $10.74 per hour to $12.25 per hour, effective May 2015. The minimum wage rate will then increase every year until the rate reaches $15.00 per hour in July 2018. 77% of voters approved the ballot measure, which applies to all employees in the city, except youths under 18 in government-subsidized training programs and people over 55 at some government-subsidized nonprofits.
How old does one have to be to decide the law or impart wisdom to others? This is an interesting question. A truism is that when someone is appointed to be a judge at a young age they can expect to serve for many years. Justice Joseph Story was the youngest at 32 when President Madison nominated him to the United States Supreme Court, but that was in 1812. He ranks 9th out of 112 jurists in terms of length of service on the court. At the time, life expectancy was only 40 years, so he was not expected to live to see 65, which he did. The newest addition to the California high court, Leondra Kruger, a Pasadena native, by comparison would expect to live another 44 years, well exceeding Story’s tenure. It is also conceivable that Ms. Kruger will eventually be tapped to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Demographically she would be a great pick by any future Democratic President because she is young, female and African-American.
The last two months have been busy for the question of who decides the scope of a class claim in arbitration when the arbitration does not specifically allow or prohibit such a proceeding. On October 9th the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District in Network Capital Funding Corporation v. Papke, disagreed with another panel of justices in the Second Appellate District in Sandquist v. Lebo creating a split. The justices in Sanquist held that the arbitrator should decide the question of what type of proceeding should be allowed class or individual because it was in essence a procedural process in the dispute. The justices in Papke disagreed instead looking at it in terms of contract interpretation. What did the parties agree to is a threshold question for the court to decide. They had both the 3rd and 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to back them up on their interpretation.
On November 12 the California Supreme court took up