Posts from September 2011.

The California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Monday, October 3, 2011 in Harris v. Superior Court (Liberty Mutual Insurance). The California Supreme Court granted review of Harris almost four years ago on November 28, 2007, and identified the issue to be decided as follows:

As we previously reported here, in May, it was announced that the Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH") would begin a new collaborative effort with the University of California at Irvine School of  Law to combat allegations of systemic discrimination. The DFEH and UC Irvine established a clinic in which law students will assist DFEH agents on tasks which include evaluation, investigation, and prosecution of discrimination claims.  

As we previously reported here, the National Labor Relations Board has recently filed complaints against a number of employers alleging the employers unlawfully terminated or disciplined employees who posted on social media websites, such as Facebook, statements critical of their working conditions.  In one press release, the NLRB states such discussions were "protected concerted activity within the meaning of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, because it involved a conversation among coworkers about their terms and conditions of employment, including their job performance and staffing levels."

In a press release issued today, the California Department of Industrial Relations announced that Labor Commissioner Julie Su, filed in the Alameda County Superior Court a lawsuit seeking damages and penalties in excess of $17 Million against ZipRealty for alleged wage and hour violations. Click here to download and read a copy of the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit Ms. Su filed in the Alameda County Superior Court ...

The 2011 California legislative season is coming to a close. Below is a summary of the employment-law-related bills that were signed or are pending before the Governor. The Governor has until October 9, 2011 to consider, and sign or veto the bills passed by the Legislature this year.

Bills Signed by Governor Brown

SB 272 (DeSaulnier) Leave of Absence: Organ Donation - This bill provides that the days of leave for ...

As we previously reported here, in an announcement dated August 25, 2011 the National Labor Relations Board confirmed the approval of a final rule which requires all employers under NLRB jurisdiction to post a Notice which will inform employees of their rights. Those rights include the rights to form and join unions and to engage in concerted activities for mutual aid and protection, which may include group protests over working conditions or demands for workplace change through social media.

On June 21, 2011, the United States Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards, issued a little-known Notice of Proposed Rulemaking whereby the DOL seeks to expand the scope of and requirements of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (29.U.S.C. 433). The proposed rule reverses long-standing practices under the law and subjects employers and those who provide advice to employers regarding union activities, such as attorneys and labor consultants, to increased reporting requirements. The public comment period ends on September 21, 2011, and the new rule is expected to be adopted shortly thereafter. The proposed rule has been viewed by some in the business community as a political favor for unions designed to enhance their ability to unionize employees.  A copy of the proposed rule and the opportunity to submit comments can be viewed by clicking here.  

Last Thursday, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and announced his American Jobs Act. On Monday, President Obama formerly presented the Bill to Congress.  Among the provisions included the 155-page Bill but which the President did not announce in his speech last week is the "Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011". This law, if passed, would make it an unlawful discrimination practice for an employer to deny employment (i.e., decline to hire) an individual on account of the applicant's unemployment.  In short, President Obama's proposed law would make being unemployed a protected class on par with other protected classes such as race, color, religion, national original, age, and sex. Specifically, Section 374 of the Americans Jobs Act makes it unlawful for employers to:   

In a press released issued today, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing touts an administrative award of $846,300 against an employer for allegedly failing to accommodate an employee's medical condition and for allegedly terminating the employee "relying on [an] insufficient travel pretext." The DFEH press release states as follows:

AALRR was ranked the 36th largest law firm in California by California Lawyer in its annual survey of the state's largest law firms. AALRR moved up five places in this year's ranking. 

As we previously reported here, there was little doubt Governor Jerry Brown's appointment of UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the California Supreme Court would be swiftly confirmed by the California Commission on Judicial Appointments, consisting of three members:  California Supreme Court Presiding Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (appointed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), California Attorney General Kamala Harris (a Democrat elected in 2010 after serving as the District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco), and Senior Presiding Justice of the California Court of Appeal  Joan Dempsey Klein (appointed by Governor Brown during his first term as Governor of California).  

On August 17, 2011, the California Court of Appeal held an employee does not have to be licensed as an attorney to qualify as an exempt employee under "learned professions" exemption of Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order 4-2001. This case is significant because it allows an employer to apply the learned professions exemption to individuals who may not be licensed. Employers can make individual determinations based on an individual's actual education, training, and duties. This permits a more flexible application of the exemption that takes into consideration the realities of a given situation. 

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