Can California Employers Be Liable For Failure To Prevent Something That Never Happened?

If this sounds like an oxymoron to you, join the crowd.  For years, California employers have relied on the principle that plaintiffs cannot prevail under Government Code section 12940(k) for “failure to prevent” discrimination (or harassment or retaliation) if the plaintiff does not prevail on the underlying claim.  The failure to prevent cause of action has been viewed as a derivative cause of action that stems exclusively from a finding that discrimination, harassment or retaliation actually occurred.  Carter v. California Dept. of Veterans Affairs (2006) 38 Cal. 4th 914, 925, fn. 4.  The Carter rule has been used as a successful tool for employers when filing motions for summary judgment and eliminates “failure to prevent” tag-a-long claims when the underlying law is not broken.

Employer’s Delay is Fatal to Enforcement of Arbitration Agreement

On January 4, 2021, a California appellate court held an employer waived its right to enforce an arbitration agreement against a truck driver who filed a wage and hour class action against it, by waiting almost twenty months after the case was filed to make an arbitration demand.  The court held that the delay was unjustified because the employer’s conduct in defending the case in court for that period of time was inconsistent with its right to arbitrate and because such delay prejudiced the employee’s ability to use the benefits and efficiencies of arbitration. Garcia v. Haralambos Beverage Co., No. B296923, 2021 WL 22015 (Cal. Ct. App. Jan. 4, 2021).

California Employers: The federal Department Of Labor’s Final Rule For Worker Classifications Does Not Eliminate The Requirements Under California’s ABC Test

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) just announced a “final rule” setting forth the standard for worker classifications – employee versus independent contractor – under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  The FLSA establishes federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards for the public and private sectors.  All employers in the United States must abide by the FLSA; however, many states, including California, set forth more stringent requirements for worker classifications. 

Recently, a California Court of Appeal held that crew members on a ship that provided maintenance services to offshore oil platforms were governed by California’s wage payment laws.  The decision, in the case of Gulf Offshore Logistics v. Superior Court, held that the State’s laws applied to such employees because California served as the basis for their operations, even though they resided in other states and their employer was located in Louisiana.  Gulf Offshore Logistics, LLC v. Superior Court of Ventura Cty., WL 7137048 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 7, 2020).

Categories: Wage & Hour
More Training Required for Human Resource Employees and Managers in California

On September 29, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1963 expanding the list of mandated reporters in California.  Existing law, the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, requires mandated reporters to report whenever they, in their professional capacity or within the scope of their employment, have knowledge of or observe a child whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect.  Failure by a mandated reporter to report an incident of known or reasonably suspected child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months of confinement in a county jail, by a fine of $1000, or both. 

Tags: Training

California Labor Code section 1102.5 is an expansive whistleblower statute frequently used by plaintiffs’ attorneys to sue for wrongful termination.  Section 1102.5’s many protections include prohibiting employers from adopting rules preventing employees from making complaints (sub (a)), prohibiting retaliation against an employee who has “reasonable cause to believe” that an activity may be illegal (sub (b)) and prohibiting retaliation against an employee who refuses to participate in an activity that is illegal (sub (c)).  Subsection (d) also protects employees from retaliation based on conduct at prior employment.

New Benefits Required In Wine Country: Sonoma County Enacts Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

On August 18, 2020, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors enacted an emergency ordinance to establish supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“PSL”) requirements for private employers with employees who work in its unincorporated areas. The Paid Sick Leave Ordinance (“PSLO”) became operative immediately upon enactment and will run concurrently with the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), expiring on December 31, 2020; however, the PSLO would be automatically extended by any extension of the provisions of the FFCRA.

In Joana David v. Queen of the Valley Medical Center (2020) 51 Cal.App.5th 653, the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District affirmed a trial court’s ruling granting summary judgment in favor of an employer in a wage and hour litigation bought by a former employee on the basis that the employer’s policies and procedures were legally compliant on their face and in practice. 

 In a 7-2 decision authored by Justice Alito, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the ministerial exception set forth in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, 565 U.S. 171 (2012).  (Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, Case Nos. 19-267 and 19-348 (July 8, 2020)(“OLG”)).

Numerous California Cities and Counties Scheduled to Increase Local Minimum Wage July 1, 2020

With the local minimum wage in several California cities increasing on July 1st, employers should take time to verify that they are meeting the minimum wage requirements of the cities in which they operate and prepare for any increases.

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