Posts tagged Department of Labor

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 June 25, 2018, a California court of appeal offered employers who use rounding systems to calculate employee payroll a reassuring ruling, approving a policy that rounded employee’s time to the nearest quarter hour. In AHMC Healthcare, Inc. v Superior Court (2018) No. B285655, the issue arose out of AHMC Healthcare’s use of a payroll system that automatically rounded employee hours up or down to the nearest quarter hour prior to calculating wages and issuing paychecks (instead of using the employee’s exact check-in and check-out times). Emilio Letona and Jacquelyn Abeyta, both employees of AHMC Healthcare, brought a class-action suit against AHMC Healthcare, Inc. for failure to pay wages and failure to furnish timely and accurate wage statements. The plaintiffs claimed this rounding system was in direct violation of the Labor Code, and presented evidence of time records from San Gabriel Valley Medical Center L.P. (where Letona was employed) and AHMC Anaheim Regional Medical Center L.P. (where Abeyta was employed).

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 ...

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 – “COBRA” as commonly known – gives certain former employees, their spouses, and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at the employer’s group rates. COBRA generally obligates employers with 20 or more employees to offer COBRA coverage when coverage is lost due to certain specific events, and to notify their employees of the availability of such coverage.

On May 11, 2010, the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, and Department of Health and Human Services issued interim final rules regarding the extension of health coverage for adult dependent children until the age of 26. The rules provide guidance on how the Affordable Care Act provision regarding extended coverage to adult dependents affects health insurance plans and employers.

On May 20, 2010, the Department of Labor ("DOL") issued a final rule requiring federal contractors with prime contracts over $100,000 and federal subcontractors with subcontracts over $10,000 to post notices informing employees of certain rights under the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"). This new requirement takes effect June 21, 2010.

The required notice identifies employees' rights under the ...

As we previously reported here, On March 24, 2010, the United States Department of Labor("DOL") Wage and Hour Division made a significant change in its compliance assistance by moving from its longstanding practice of issuing fact specific opinion letters to issuing more general, across-the-board Administrator's Interpretations. The change is significant because it likely signals the DOL's intention ...

Other AALRR Blogs

Recent Posts

Popular Categories

Contributors

Archives

Back to Page