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.

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

Class Action Update: Arbitration Clauses Cannot Bar Claims for Public Injunctive Relief

Today, many businesses use arbitration as a means of resolving claims that arise. Indeed, many California consumer agreements contain arbitration clauses.

However, the California Supreme Court recently narrowed the protection of arbitration agreements with class action waivers. Financial services entities and other businesses will be required to review their current contractual provisions to ensure compliance in the Golden State.

California Supreme Court: Public Employees’ Work-Related Texts and Emails on Private Devices are “Public Records”

According to the California Supreme Court, public employees’ communications about official agency business may be subject to California Public Records Act (CPRA). This extends to communications on personal computers, smartphones, tablets, etc…

While this is a case involving a public sector employer and the CPRA, I foresee that it may – and sooner than later — be relevant to private sector employers and “bring your own device” policies (more on those here), as well as private sector employees’ privacy interests.

Commission-Based Employees Must Be Paid for Rest Breaks

Employers: Did you know that inside sales commission-based employees must be separately paid for their rest breaks? In another win for employees across the state, a California court recently held that certain employees paid on commission are also covered by the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Wage Order requirement that “rest period time shall be counted as hours worked for which there shall be no deduction from wages.” Last year, an appellate court held that employees who are paid on a piece-rate basis must be separately compensated for rest breaks and other non-productive time. Now, another Court of Appeals has extended this requirement to employees who are paid on a commission basis.