Posts in Wage & Hour.
California Court of Appeal Increases Potential Employer Exposure by Allowing Recovery of Attorney’s Fees in Meal and Rest Break Actions

On September 12, 2022, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, held that employees are entitled to recover attorney’s fees and costs stemming from a claim for failure to provide uninterrupted rest periods. Betancourt v. OS Restaurant Services, LLC, Case No. B293625 (Cal. Ct. App 2022). In her complaint, plaintiff Raquel Betancourt also alleged that she was retaliated against and wrongfully terminated for reporting these repeated rest break and food safety violations.

Categories: Wage & Hour
California Court of Appeal Confirms That 2018 Federal Regulation Preempts California Meal and Rest Break Laws for Truck Drivers but Holds Regulation is Not Retroactive

On December 28, 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) issued a regulation under the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984 (49 U.S.C. § 31101, et seq.) that preempted California’s meal and rest break rules.  In doing so, the FMCSA decided that California may no longer enforce its meal and rest break laws with respect to drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles.

On November 15, 2021, the West Hollywood city council enacted an ordinance that establishes a local minimum wage, and requires employers to provide paid and unpaid leave benefits. On May 16, 2022, the city council approved amendments to the ordinance and published Administrative Regulations (637879708613130000 (weho.org)) regarding the law, discussed below.

The ordinance’s minimum wage and leave benefits are restricted to only hourly, non-exempt, employees. There are also exceptions available for unionized employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement. 

Department of Labor Rescinds Independent Contractor and Joint Employer Rules from Previous Administration

On March 11, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor announced plans to rescind two final rules which were promulgated under the prior administration: (1) the Independent Contractor Rule, which sets forth the standard under which a worker may be considered an independent contractor or employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); and (2) the Joint Employer Rule, which provides guidance for determining joint employer status when an employee performs work for his or her employer that simultaneously benefits another individual or entity.

Categories: DOL, Wage & Hour
President Biden’s Administration Halts Department of Labor’s Final Rule for Worker Classification

On January 6, 2021, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced the new final rule for worker classifications called the “economic reality” test. The new DOL final rule provided that two core factors were to be examined to determine whether a worker is properly classified as an independent contractor under federal law: (1) the nature and degree of control over the work; and (2) the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative and/or investment. As previously discussed here, these requirements are much less stringent than the “ABC” test adopted by California, which requires that the worker perform work outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business and that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established business of the same nature.

Categories: Wage & Hour
Ninth Circuit Issues Important Decision on Per Diem Pay 

On February 8, 2021, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision clarifying the circumstances under which a per diem benefit must be included in the regular rate of pay for overtime purposes under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The court held that since per diem benefits functioned as compensation for work rather than as reimbursement for expenses incurred by traveling healthcare clinicians, they were improperly excluded from the clinicians’ regular rates of pay for purposes of calculating overtime pay under federal law. Clarke v. AMN Servs., LLC (9th Cir., 2021) No. 19-55784, 2021 WL 419473.

Categories: Wage & Hour

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
Supreme Court Denies Plaintiffs the Ability to Seek Recovery of Unpaid Wages Under PAGA

On September 12, 2019, the California Supreme Court decided in a unanimous decision that in a Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) action seeking to recover penalties under California Labor Code Section 558, a plaintiff may recover civil penalties but may not recover actual unpaid wages. This is an important decision, which now clearly prevents a plaintiff from seeking both statutory penalties and wages under PAGA (as is often argued by the plaintiff). The high court did, however, reinforce that actions seeking statutory penalties under PAGA cannot be compelled to arbitration.

California Supreme Court Rejects Conversion Claim for Unpaid Wages

Can an employee sue his employer for unpaid wages by claiming that his employer and its principals “converted” his personal property to their own use, and that the principals are individually liable for the employer’s conduct? No, held the California Supreme Court in the recent case of Voris v. Lampert, (Cal S Court Case No. S241812), issued on August 15, 2019. 

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