On January 29, 2015, the California Supreme Court ruled that an employer did not violate the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) when it terminated an employee who was out on medical leave because the worker engaged in conduct in violation of the employer’s policy.
Events Leading up to Termination of Employee while on CFRA Leave
Avery Richey was hired in 2004 by Power Toyota Cerritos. Around the time of his hire, Richey received an employment manual stating that outside work while on approved CFRA leave was prohibited. A general understanding existed at Power Toyota that outside employment of any kind, including self-employment while on approved leave, was against company policy and that other employees had been fired for violating the rule.
Class Action Lawsuits Allege Mislassification of Employees
Uber and Lyft will be facing class action lawsuits due to two separate lawsuits filed in San Francisco federal court. The suits, originally filed in 2013, are seeking class-action status and are now making their way through the courts. The reason for the lawsuits–some Uber and Lyft drivers allege they have been misclassified as independent contractors when they should be classified as employees, and therefore eligible for overtime and minimum wage.
Furthermore, beyond allegations they should have full employee status, the plaintiffs are seeking reimbursement for expenses including gasoline and car maintenance costs, which they would normally receive if they had employee standing in California. Since drivers for both companies are currently classified as independent contractors, they cover these costs themselves.
Walmart Hit with California Labor Class Action Lawsuit
A California pharmacist has filed a class action lawsuit against Walmart, accusing the retail giant of missed rest periods and unpaid overtime, violations of California Labor Law and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The California labor code lawsuit was originally filed in Orange County Superior Court in December of last year and was removed to federal court on February 6.
The named plaintiff, Afrous Nikmanesh, worked as a Walmart pharmacist from November 2003 to September 2014. In addition to the allegation of missed rest periods, Nikmanesh claims that the retailer did not pay him and other pharmacists in the class for time studying for and completing APhA Immunization Training Programs. The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of current and former pharmacists employed by Walmart in the U.S., as plaintiffs assert that the Immunization training was directly related to the responsibilities of a pharmacist.
Labor Violations at California Winery
According to a Februrary 24, 2015 release by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), an Orlando-based labor contractor will pay $163,227 for violations of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The contractor, Manuel Quezada, provides labor crews to Roederer Estate, a 33-year old winery located about 125 miles north of San Francisco. All told, 60 migrant workers will receive $99,953 in back wages under the MSPA, and $63,274 in wages and damages under the FLSA.
MSPA and FLSA
According to DOL reports, Quezada has provided labor crews to Roederer Estate for the last ten years for grape harvesting, pruning and nut harvesting around the northern California area.
Quezada was cited for violations that occurred at
In Jazmina Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, three health care workers sued their hospital employer for alleged Labor Code violations and related claims. On appeal, their primary complaint was a hospital policy that illegally let health care employees waive their second meal periods on shifts longer than 12 hours. Statute requires two meal periods for shifts longer than 12 hours but an order of the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) authorizes employees in the health care industry to waive one of those two required meal periods on shifts longer than 8 hours. The principal issue before the California Court of Appeal concerned the validity of the IWC order.
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding Sex Discrimination by Federal Contractors
Kicking off a year expected to be a year filled with regulatory changes, the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) issued its proposed new regulations regarding sex discrimination by federal contractors. On January 28, 2015, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking updating the rules that govern how federal contractors and subcontractors prohibit sex discrimination. The proposal would rescind outdated guidance, align requirements with prior amendments to Title VII, established legal precedent, and better address the realities of today’s workplaces. OFCCP’s proposed rule deals with a variety of barriers to equal opportunity and fair pay, including pay discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environments, a lack of workplace accommodations for pregnant women as well as gender identity and family caregiving discrimination.
California Assembly Bill 1897 Took Effect January 1, 2015
Assembly Bill 1897, designed to protect temporary workers from California labor code violations, was originally signed by California Governor Jerry Brown in September 2014. The law imposes new joint liability for companies whose labor subcontractors violate wage and workplace safety laws. For example, if a temp agency violates California labor law, the company that hired the temp agency can also be liable for those California employee violations.
Purpose of AB 1897
This new law is designed to address issues that exist in industries that typically outsource their employment to temp agencies and staffing firms. As the Office of Legislative Counsel noted in the bill’s preamble, the purpose of AB 1897 is…
[To] require a client employer to share with a labor contractor all civil legal responsibility and civil liability for all workers supplied by that labor contractor for the payment of wages and the failure to obtain valid workers compensation coverage…[as well as]…prohibit a client employer from shifting to the labor contractor legal duties or liabilities under workplace safety provisions with respect to workers provided by the subcontractor.
In addition to shared liability for violations cited above, Section 2810.3(e) of the bill includes
EEOC Releases Fiscal Year 2014 Enforcement and Litigation Data – EEOC Statistics
On February 4, 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its Fiscal Year 2014 breakdown of discrimination charges. The Fed’s latest fiscal year ran from Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2014–a time period in which the commission received 88,778 charges of workplace discrimination.
According to the EEOC, the comprehensive set of fiscal year 2014 private sector data tables provide detailed breakdowns for the 88,778 charges of workplace discrimination the agency received during the fiscal year.
Analysis by the Commission revealed the number of charges filed decreased compared with recent fiscal years, due in part to the government shutdown during the reporting period. The EEOC release stated, “While charge filings were down overall compared to the previous fiscal year, first quarter charge filings–which included the period of the shutdown–were 3,000 to 5,000 less than the other quarters.”
In California labor lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney approves settlement that was previously rejected just one month earlier. The result–more than 3,000 class members are to receive an estimated sum of $1.6 million.
Lead plaintiff Nikola Lovig worked for Sears Roebuck & Co.’s (Sears) for one year before filing his California labor lawsuit in April 2011. Lovig was one of the company’s in-home service technicians who traveled between the homes of customers to repair various Sears appliances and products.
Lovig’s lawsuit was filed in US District Court for the Central District of California and accused Sears of 1) failing to pay minimum wage and overtime, 2) withholding payment for paid vacation days after employees quit, 3) failing to provide adequate meal and rest breaks, 4) failing to reimburse employees for expenses, and 5) issuing incomplete wage statements. The alleged actions are violations of the California Labor Code and the California Business & Professions Code.