Posts from January 2021.
Ninth Circuit Upholds Victory for Trucking Industry: California Meal and Rest Break Rules Preempted by Federal Law as to Commercial Drivers

In a welcome surprise to the trucking industry, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on January 15, 2021, upheld the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (“FMCSA”) December 2018 determination that California’s meal and rest break rules (“MRB rules”) are preempted by federal law and do not apply to commercial truck drivers engaged in interstate commerce.  California’s strict meal and rest break laws require more breaks, more often, and with less flexibility as to timing than the federal hours-of-service regulations do for commercial drivers.  The decision is a welcome reprieve for the trucking industry which has faced a fair share of wage and hour battles in California over the last decade.

Categories: Court Ruling

Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that the political environment in the United States right now has everyone a little bit on edge, especially in the midst of an ongoing international health crisis.  Passions are running high, and tempers are flaring; however, California employers have particular cause to exercise caution and diligence when their employees voice and/or demonstrate their political beliefs.

DOL Permits Back-of-the-Restaurant Staff to Share in Servers’ Tips

On December 22, 2020, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) finalized a rule opening tip pools to employees who do not normally receive tips themselves. As the restaurant industry looks towards easing lockdown restrictions and a hopeful return to “business as usual” in 2021, California restaurants should be mindful of the impact of the DOL’s new regulations.

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).

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. 

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