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.Read More
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Pregnancy Discrimination Act, or PDA forbids companies from discriminating against employees based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment including hiring, firing, promotions and demotions. The PDA was the center of Rosario Juarez’s lawsuit against her employer, AutoZone, who demoted Jaurez in 2006 after she became pregnant. On November 17, 2014, a California jury ruled in her favor, ordering the auto parts retailer to pay her $185 million in punitive damages and $873,000 in
compensatory damages, for lost wages and emotional stress.
Juarez was hired by AutoZone in 2000 as a customer services representative and was promoted to parts sales manager in 2001. After requests for promotion, and complaints to the human resources department, she was promoted to store manager in 2004.
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 upRead More
On November 6, I was proud to introduce the Governor of the Great State of California to the delegates who were present at the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) National Meeting in Los Angeles. Having recently risen to the post of Board Chair of the Los Angeles Region, I was given this honor.
The Governor spoke for about 20 minutes, he was witty and engaging and demonstrated why he has been such a mainstay in California Politics for four decades. Among many topics he discussed he addressed the ADL on issues which center around stopping extremism and hate crimes. In our law enforcement outreach programs the ADL interacted closely with the Governor when he was Attorney General five years ago. Governor Brown participated and worked with the ADL in bringing white supremacists and others to justice. I was proud to be a part of this event and the ADL whose 101 year mission has been and continues to be, “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.”
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Senate Bill 1314 Amends California’s Unemployment Insurance Code
Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1314 on September 17, 2014, enacting legislation that extends the time period to appeal an award or denial of unemployment benefits by the Employment Development Department (EDD). Human Resources managers and employees alike look to take advantage of the additional time to evaluate claims and the related benefits of pursuing an appeal through EDD.
California’s Unemployment Insurance System
The Employment Development Department (EDD) administers California’s unemployment insurance system. California employers fund the unemployment insurance system using a predetermined percentage of their payroll tax payments. Employer payments are held by the EDD in a special reserve fund, which is used to pay unemployment benefits to employees who have become unemployed through no fault of their own. As benefits are debited from an employer’s reserve fund, the employer may begin to pay higher tax rates to replenish their fund.Read More
Our previous post (New California Employment Laws for 2015 – part 1) covered three new employment laws passed during California’s 2014-2015 legislative session and subsequently signed by Governor Brown. Three more new laws are briefly described below, each with an effective date of January 1, 2015.
Penalties for Minimum Wage Violations to Include Waiting Time Penalties
Labor Code section 1197.1 lists various statutory penalties against employers who fail to timely pay wages of a resigned or discharged employee. Specifically, it authorizes employees to recover a civil penalty (as specified), restitution of wages, and liquidated damages. There are three ways to pursue such violations (e.g., through a “Berman Hearing” before the Labor Commissioner, through a civil action, or through a Labor Commissioner citation), but waiting time penalties under section 203 were available only under the first two methods (i.e., not for Labor Commissioner Citations). AB 1723 amends the law to authorize waiting time penalties for Labor Commissioner Citations as well.
Time Off for Emergency Rescue Personnel
Labor Code section 230.3 prohibits an employer from discharging or in any manner discriminating against an employee for taking time off to perform emergency duty as a volunteer firefighter, reserve peace officer, or emergency rescue personnel. AB 2536 expands the existing definition of “emergency rescue personnel” to include an officer, employee, or member of a disaster medical response entity sponsored or requested by the state. An employee who is a health care provider (as defined) must notify their employer at the time they become designated as an emergency rescue personnel, and when the employee is notified they will be deployed because of that designation.Read More
California’s 2014-2015 legislative session ended August 31st, and a significant number of bills impacting employers were passed by the legislature. Governor Brown signed numerous bills sent to his desk covering various areas of employment law including discrimination, arbitration, and health and insurance benefits. A short summary of three of these new laws are highlighted below. The effective date for each of these laws is January 1, 2015, unless otherwise noted.
Unpaid Interns and Volunteers Now Protected from Discrimination and Harassment
AB 1443 amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to extend harassment and discrimination protections to interns and volunteers. It amends Government Code section 12940(c) – which currently prohibits discrimination in apprentice training programs – to also preclude discriminating against interns and volunteers on the basis of any legally protected classification (e.g., race, religion, disability, etc.) and to prohibit sexual harassment of them, and to extend the existing religious belief accommodation requirements to them.Read More
Retaliation Claim Dismissed When Employer Proves It Was Not Aware Of Whistleblowing Activity
A California federal district court recently held that absent evidence that an employer knew of the alleged protected activity, an employee cannot assert a claim under California’s whistleblower statute. In United States of America ex rel. Darryn Kelly v. Serco, Inc., the district court ruled in favor of Serco under both the False Claims Act and California’s retaliatory discharge provision codified at California Labor Code section 1102.5. The court not only rejected the relator’s claims, but it also resolved all issues in the employer’s favor on summary judgment.
Plaintiff Darryn Kelly was employed as an analyst by Serco, a federal contractor engaged to upgrade wireless communications systems along the U.S./Mexico border. Mr. Kelly complained to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that Serco had been engaging in what he believed to be fraudulent time tracking measures. Kelly claimed employees kept track of their time manually rather than through the required automated system, which resulted in inaccurate and fraudulent reports to the government. Kelly believed these practices violated ANSI 748, which is a set of guidelines that applies to certain government contractors.Read More