Smartphones and Class Actions

As we have discussed in previous posts, smartphones are making life a bit more challenging for business owners, especially in terms of overtime pay. It’s a modern reality that today’s workplace is anywhere within range of a wireless signal.  With many employees habitually checking their smartphones at all hours for emails, text messages, voicemails, tweets, and other electronic transmissions, more and more employers are finding themselves with a potential wage and hour class action on their hands.

Updates to “Joint Employer” Legislation?

Generally speaking, joint employment, or co-employment, is the sharing of control and supervision of an employee’s activity among two or more business entities. A benefit of the increasingly popular employment practice is the ease with which joint employers are often able to hire experts in niche industries, individuals with specialist skills, and/or even replace their regular workforce. Currently, however, no single legal definition of joint employment exists and Congress is out to change that.

One Work Week is Six Days and a Day of Rest

California’s “Day of Rest” statute continues to plague employers, but a recent case brings with it some good news. Under California Labor Code section 550-558.1, an employer is prohibited “from ‘caus[ing] his employees to work more than six days in seven” unless “the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week.”[1]

According to a California Supreme Court ruling that just came down the pipe, employees must average no less than one day of rest for every seven over the course of a calendar month, giving even more work-scheduling flexibility to employers.

An Amendment to Increasing Protection for the Transgender Population

Employers, beware: New regulations expand existing transgender protections under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA protects individuals who identify as transgender and provides protections on the basis of both gender identity and gender expression — regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth. California law also specifically protects an employee’s right to appear or dress consistently with his/her gender identity or gender expression.

The amendments to FEHA became effective July 1, 2017 and specifically address transitioning, dress standard, name preference, identity, and documentation as they relate to the workplace and housing.[1]

Expanded Protections to Victims of Sexual Assault

Prior to AB 2337, a law that expands the rights of certain employees, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking were protected if:

  • their employers retaliated against them,
  • they took time off,
  • they requested reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits, or
  • sought equitable relief from the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement as it related to their abuse, assault, or stalking.[1]

Things are changing, however, and, with the approval of AB 2337, victims now receive more extensive protection and information.

Non-Competes in California – A Non-Starter?

Are non-compete agreements truly a thing of the past in California? It seems that the California Supreme Court would like employers to think so. After all, in 2008 the Court brought down the hammer on these covenants not to compete (a clause under which one party (usually an employee) agrees not to enter into or start a similar profession or trade in competition against another party (usually the employer)), holding that California Business Code §16600 prohibits all restraints on trade, including non-solicitation provisions (Edwards v. Arthur Anderson, 44 Cal. 4th 937(2008)).

EEOC Focuses on Age Discrimination

With the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) on the horizon, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is focusing on the issue of age discrimination in the workplace. Age discrimination involves treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of his or her age and the ADEA “forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. It does not protect workers under the age of 40”. Side note: It is not unlawful for an employer or other covered entity to favor an older worker over a younger one, even if both workers are age 40 or older.

California’s Bathroom Bill

In 2016, Assembly Bill No. 1732, also known as the “All-Gender” Bathroom Bill (Bathroom Bill), was introduced to the California legislature and subsequently signed into law by Governor Brown.  The Bathroom Bill was sponsored by California NOW, Equality California, and the Transgender Law Center because “restrict[ing] access to single-occupancy restrooms by gender create problems of safety, fairness, and convenience.” And recently, the bill went into effect.

Before the Bathroom Bill