Posts in Employee Benefits.

In Melendez v. San Francisco Baseball Associates LLC (2019) S245607, the California Supreme Court recently held that a security guard’s state law claim for unpaid wages and “waiting time” penalties could proceed over his employer’s objections that they had to be resolved under his union’s agreement.  Because the employee’s claim was founded on a right existing in state law, and not the agreement, he was permitted to proceed with his claim in court even though the agreement was relevant to the claim and would have to be “consulted” and determining it.

George Melendez worked as a security guard at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and filed a lawsuit when he was not paid his final wages immediately after the end of each San Francisco Giant’s home stand, concert, or other event at the stadium that he worked at.  He primarily claimed that the Giants’ failure to pay him wages due at the time of termination entitled him to “waiting time” penalties of up to 30 days’ additional pay after the completion of each assignment.  He principally relied on a 2006 Supreme Court Case, Smith v. Superior Court (2006) 39 Cal.4th 77, which held that a hair dresser who was hired to work for only a single day was required to be paid at the end of that job. 

The Giants argued that there were numerous provisions in its collective bargaining agreement with the Service Employees International Union, Melendez’s collective bargaining representative, which showed that security guards were employed on a continuous year-round basis and were not terminated after single job assignments. These included provisions that classified employees based on the number of hours worked per year, provided for probationary period of 500 hours of work, and required drug screening for new hires. Because of these provisions, the Giants argued that Melendez’s claim was preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act,  because it required “interpretation and application” of the union agreement.

Relying on past cases, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s 2000 decision in Balcorta v. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. (9th Cir. 2000) 208 F.3d 1102, the Supreme Court rejected the Giants’ federal preemption defense.  The Court stated that not every claim that requires resort to the language in a labor-management agreement is necessarily preempted, and that this is particularly the case when the meaning of the contract is not in dispute.  The case at hand did not involve a dispute over the terms of the agreement that required a court to interpret them, and preemption could not be found based only on the fact that interpretation of the contract terms was required to determine the validity of the employer’s defense. Instead, because the legal character of the claim relied on a state law right that was not substantially dependent on the contract’s terms, the employee was permitted to proceed in court with his unpaid wages and waiting time penalty claim.

The Melendez case confirms the important principle that unless a claim under a statutory law is expressly made the subject of an agreement to arbitrate under a union agreement, or is clearly and unmistakably provided for in the arbitration clause of the agreement, such a claim may proceed even though the employer’s factual and legal defenses to the claim are based on the provisions of the agreement.

Clients with questions regarding this case or arbitration and grievance procedures in collective bargaining agreements may contact the author or their usual labor law counsel at Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo.

On January 1, 2018, the California Legislature enacted the New Parent Leave Act (“NPLA”). The NPLA expanded baby-bonding benefits to employees of smaller employers (20-49 employees), a benefit that had been previously available only to employees of larger employers (50 or more employees) under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”).

New Posting Requirement

Along with this expansion comes a new poster that discusses the NPLA, CFRA, and Pregnancy Disability Leave:

www.dfeh.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2017/06/CFRA_PregnancyLeave_English.pdf 

All employers with 20 or more employees must display the poster.  The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) requires that the posters be placed where they can be easily seen by employees and applicants for employment.

In addition, if 10% or more of the employer’s workforce at any given location speaks a language other than English, the employer is required to post the notice in such other languages.  The DFEH published several translated versions of the poster at its website:

www.dfeh.ca.gov/resources/posters-and-brochures-and-fact-sheets/poster-and-brochure-tab-list/?target=posters

An employer must also incorporate a description of the NPLA in the next version of its employee handbook.

As an alternative to displaying multiple government-issued posters, some employers prefer to purchase and display an “all-in-one” poster from various sources.  Employers should review the posters to ensure they are up to date.

Medical Certification Form

The DFEH also recently updated the form that addresses the certification of a health care provider for leaves under the CFRA and the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”):

www.dfeh.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2017/12/CFRA-Certification-Health-Care-Provider_ENG.pdf

Please contact the authors or your usual employment law counsel at AALRR if you have any questions regarding the DFEH, NPLA, CFRA, or other posting requirements.

California announced the debut of its CalSavers program this month, designed to help employees save for retirement when their employers are not able to offer participation in another retirement program.

Effective January 1, 2018, benefits under Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) and State Disability Insurance (“SDI”) increased for all income levels and the seven-day waiting period for PFL was eliminated.

On October 12, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed the New Parent Leave Act ("NPLA") (SB 63) into law, expanding access to job-protected leave for employees of companies with 20 to 49 employees.

Effective January 1, 2018, SB 63 will allow employees who work for an employer that directly employs 20 to 49 employees within 75 miles, to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period to bond ...

Tags: CFRA, FMLA

Berkeley’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance took effect October 1, 2017.  The Berkeley minimum wage also increased on October 1, 2017.  And earlier this month, the City issued new guidance on its Family Friendly and Environment Friendly Workplace and Paid Sick Leave Ordinances.  The details of the Ordinances are outlined below.

Minimum Wage

Berkeley’s current minimum wage is $12.53 per hour and is scheduled to ...

On September 15, 2017, the 2017 California legislative session ended, with several employment-related bills being sent to the Governor’s desk.  The Governor has until October 15, 2017 to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature.  Below is a quick summary of key bills that may be signed and become effective in the upcoming year:

On August 31, 2017, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Texas ruled the Department of Labor (“DOL”) exceeded its authority by more than doubling the minimum salary level needed for an employee to qualify for the “executive, administrative, or professional” exemption from federal overtime and minimum wage laws (commonly referred to as the “white collar exemption”).  U.S. District Court ...

Last year Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2337, requiring employers to provide employees with a notice regarding the availability of domestic violence victim leave. The notice must be provided to new hires and other employees upon request.  The notice requirement took effect July 1, 2017, with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE” otherwise known as the Labor Commissioner ...

Earlier this year, voters in San Francisco approved amendments to the San Francisco Paid Sick Leave Ordinance in an effort to streamline the Ordinance’s provisions with that of the California sick leave law.  The changes to the San Francisco law take effect January 1, 2017.

Among the revisions to the Ordinance are the following provisions:

  • Explicitly recognizes front-loading sick leave, which it labels ...
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