California has broken with federal precedent once again in favor of its state employees, rejecting application of the Fair Labor Standard Act’s de minimis rule in a lawsuit seeking recovery of unpaid wages under California state law. Under the de minimis doctrine, employers are excused, in some circumstances, from paying employees under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for small amounts of otherwise compensable time worked when that time is administratively difficult to track. The California Supreme Court held last week in Troester v. Starbucks Corporation, that the de minimis doctrine does not apply to claims for unpaid wages under California state law where an employer requires its employees to work small amounts of time off the clock on a regular basis or as a regular feature of the job. Continue Reading California Supreme Court Rejects FLSA’s De Minimis Doctrine
Earlier this month, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board issued a memo instructing regional agency officials on how to assess workplace rules in light of the new standard established by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (Dec. 14, 2017). Together, the Boeing decision and the General Counsel’s memo shift the presumption regarding facially neutral workplace rules back in favor of the employer.
It was a good start to the week for employers. That is because on Monday the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Lewis v. Epic Systems, and two other related cases, and held that class action waivers in employment agreements with arbitration clauses must be enforced as written. In reaching this conclusion the Court flatly rejected the National Labor Relations Board’s position that class action waivers are invalid because they violate an employee’s right to engage in protected concerted activity under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
After six years of uncertainty, those employers with appropriate class action waivers in their employment agreements can breathe a collective sigh of relief. For all other employers, it may be time to reconsider whether an employment agreement that includes a class action waiver can reduce your liability exposure. Continue Reading Supreme Court OKs Class Action Waivers in Employment Arbitration Agreements
The California Supreme Court adopted a new test Monday for determining whether workers are employees—rejecting the court’s previous multi-factor test. The decision in Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, S222732 (Cal. Apr. 30, 2018), has immediate ramifications for employers in California who hire or utilize independent contractors. In short, the bar for establishing “independent contractor” status has been raised, and California companies will have to assess their practices in order to conform to this new reality. Continue Reading California Supreme Court Raises Bar on Independent Contractor Status
The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Monday, on the eve of National Equal Pay Day, that it violates the Equal Pay Act to use pay history to justify wage gaps between male and female employees for the same or substantially similar work. The decision in Rizo v. Yovino, No. 16-15372 (9th Cir. Apr. 9, 2018) has immediate ramifications for employers in the Ninth Circuit in evaluating employee compensation. Continue Reading Consideration of Pay History to Justify Gender Wage Gaps Held Unlawful by Ninth Circuit on Eve of National Equal Pay Day
On February 21, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers, S. Ct. No. 16-1276 (Feb. 21, 2018), narrowing the scope of who qualifies for whistleblower protection under the Dodd-Frank Act. Dodd-Frank is a federal law which, in conjunction with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, provides incentives and protections for whistleblowers who report suspected securities law violations to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The issue before the Court was whether “the anti-retaliation provision of Dodd-Frank extend[s] to an individual who has not reported a violation of the securities laws to the SEC and therefore falls outside the Act’s definition of ‘whistleblower[.]’” The Court held that the definition of “whistleblower” in Dodd-Frank did not include employees who failed to report suspected securities law violations to the SEC. While the Court’s decision was based on the statutory language of Dodd-Frank, the decision may present an argument for narrower interpretations of the protections afforded to employees under the whistleblower provisions of the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII and the ADEA, and other laws such as the False Claims Act. Continue Reading High Court Narrows Whistleblower Status Protections Under Dodd-Frank
As we had previously reported, in 2015 the then-Democrat controlled National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the Browning-Ferris case ruled that a joint employer relationship could be found if an entity had mere indirect or potential control over individuals employed by another entity. This decision reversed decades of precedent in which the NLRB held that a joint employer relationship would only be found if one entity had “direct and immediate control” over individuals employed by another entity. Continue Reading Ping-Pong Anyone? NLRB Vacates <em>Hy-Brand</em> and Reinstates – For the Moment – <em>Browning-Ferris</em>
Like many holidays, Valentine’s Day is a time when employees celebrate, while HR representatives, in-house counsel, and business owners hold their breath. In the #MeToo era, employers should consider proactively addressing workplace relationships and shoring up internal policies for dealing with complaints. Here are some tools to help employers get in the Valentine’s Day spirit. Continue Reading Love is in the Air? Practical Tips for Dealing with Workplace Relationships
In a recent speech, the head of the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) once again warned companies about the antitrust risks of certain agreements among employers not to hire each other’s employees. The Federal Trade Commission and DOJ Antitrust Division have challenged these agreements for years. To avoid the new criminal risks that can come with some of these so-called “no-poach” agreements, companies should review any agreements with others regarding hiring practices and ensure their antitrust training is properly designed and targeted. Continue Reading DOJ Antitrust Division Again Emphasizes Risks of “No-Poach” Agreements
Schiff Hardin’s Labor & Employment Group again presents our annual legislative update, summarizing legislation slated to take effect in 2018 under federal law and Illinois, California, New York, Georgia, Michigan, and District of Columbia law.