In the recent case of Huerta v. Kava Holdings, Inc., 2018 WL 5999639 (Cal. Ct. App. Nov. 14, 2018), the California Court of Appeal held that a prevailing employer that made a section 998 settlement offer to the plaintiff in an action brought under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) was not entitled to costs and expert witness fees incurred after the plaintiff’s rejection of the offer.

With the passage of AB 2605 earlier this year, employees covered by specific Collective Bargaining Agreements (“CBAs”) who hold a “safety-sensitive” position at a petroleum facility are now exempt from certain California rest and recovery period requirements. This bill is a legislative response to the highly criticized Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc. 2 Cal.5th 257 (December 22, 2016) decision. In Augustus, ABM Security required its security guards to keep their radios on during their rest and recovery periods in case of an emergency. The plaintiffs argued that this “on-call policy” required them to not be relieved of all duty, and therefore unlawfully denied their right to a rest period. The California Supreme Court agreed, holding that being “on call” requires employees to remain “at the ready” and therefore unable to fully engage in personal activities.

Cal/OSHA is advising employers that special precautions must be taken to protect workers from hazards from wildfire smoke.

On November 6, 2018, a majority of Californians voted “Yes” on Proposition 11, which will allow private sector emergency ambulance employees, specifically, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics, to remain “on-call” during their meal periods and rest periods so they can respond in case of an emergency. 

Effective January 1, 2019, construction workers covered by certain collective bargaining agreements (“CBA”) will be exempt from the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, commonly referred to as PAGA. 

On October 22, 2018, the California Court of Appeal followed the California Supreme Court’s guidance in Dynamex, and differentiated between a taxi driver’s Industrial Welfare Committee Wage Order claims, and non-Wage Order claims. (Garcia v. Border Transportation Group, LLC (D072521, Court of Appeal, 4th App. Dist. Div. 1).  In line with the Supreme Court’s decision, the Court of Appeal applied the ABC independent contractor test to Wage Order claims, while leaving other wage and hour claims for evaluation under the multi-factor Borello test.  The Wage Orders regulate basic working conditions for California employees, including minimum wage, meal breaks, and rest periods.

California’s Fourth Appellate District, Division One, recently upheld a trial court judgment in favor of Certified Tire and Service Centers (“Certified Tire”), finding the company’s compensation system for its tire technicians complied with California’s wage and hour laws.

On September 25, 2018, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the claims of potentially hundreds of thousands of Uber drivers for misclassification as independent contractors cannot proceed as a class action.  (O’Connor v. Uber Technologies, Ninth Circuit Case No. 16-15595.)  In this case, the drivers signed arbitration agreements containing class action waivers, which the Ninth Circuit initially refused to enforce based on the state of the law at the time.  However, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems (Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S.Ct. 1612, 200 L.Ed.2d 889 (2018)) which issued in June, the appellate court held that the waivers must be enforced and that the case cannot proceed as a class action.  The court ordered that the arbitration agreements be enforced so that the arbitrations proceed on an individual basis. 

In a decision issued by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on September 10, 2018, the court rejected a challenge based on federal preemption grounds to the California Labor Commissioner’s use of the Borello standard for determining independent contractor status. The challenge was made based on the motor carrier provisions of the Federal Aviation and Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (“FAAAA”), 49 U.S.C. § 14501, et seq., which prohibit states from enacting or enforcing laws or regulations that relate to “a price, route or service of a motor carrier . . . with respect to the transportation of property.”

This summer, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2282, which resolves ambiguities created by prior pay equity legislation AB 1676 (2016) and AB 168 (2017).  As you may recall, AB 168 prohibits questions on applications and during interviews regarding salary history.  The law also requires employers to provide a pay scale upon demand by applicants.     

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