Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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Huff worked for Securitas, which hires employees to work as security guards, and contracts with clients to provide guards for a particular location. Securitas typically provides long-term placements. After Huff resigned, he sued Securitas, alleging a representative cause of action under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA, Lab. Code, 2698) and citing Labor Code sections 201 [requiring immediate payment of wages upon termination of employment]; 201.3(b) [requiring temporary services employers to pay wages weekly]; 202 [requiring payment of wages within 72 hours of resignation]; and 204 [failure to pay all wages due for work performed in a pay period]. The trial court held that Huff was not a temporary services employee under section 201.3(b)(1), and, therefore, could not show he was affected by a violation and had no standing to pursue penalties under PAGA on behalf of others. The court of appeal affirmed the subsequent grant of a new trial. Under PAGA an “aggrieved employee” can pursue penalties for Labor Code violations on behalf of others; the statute defines an aggrieved employee as having suffered “one or more of the alleged violations” of the Labor Code for which penalties are sought. Since Huff’s complaint alleged that another violation of the Labor Code (separate from the weekly pay requirement) affected him personally, the failure to establish a violation of the weekly pay requirement did not preclude his entire PAGA claim. View "Huff v. Securitas Security Services USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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Western Dental accepts dental assistant student externs. Externs who want to be considered for full-time employment must submit a written application, undergo a background check, and be interviewed. Western posted job openings both to advertise actual open positions and to create a pool of applicants for positions that might open in the future. In May 2015, a requisition for a dental assistant in the Napa office was approved, and a solicitation for applications was publicly posted. It is unclear whether this solicitation was posted to create a pool of applicants. Abed began her Napa office externship in May 2015. She was pregnant but did not inform Western. Abed’s supervisor completed three evaluations of Abed. Abed consistently received high marks. Eventually, her co-workers discovered that Abed was pregnant. According to Abed, Strickling stated, "if she’s pregnant, I don’t want to hire her.” Abed claims she was told there were no positions available at the Napa office. Abel sued under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (Gov. Code 12900). The trial court ruled in Western’s favor because Abed had not submitted an application. The court of appeal reversed. Even though Abed never applied for a job, she raised triable issues of material fact as to whether Western intentionally discriminated against her by falsely telling her that no position was available. View "Abed v. Western Dental Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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After defendant Coastal Pacific Food Distributors, Inc. (Coastal Pacific) terminated plaintiff Terri Raines from her employment there, she sued Coastal Pacific for age and disability discrimination and other related claims. In addition, she sought recovery, both individually and in a representative capacity under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) for Coastal Pacific’s failure to provide and maintain accurate wage statements as required by statute. Raines appealed after the trial court reversed its original ruling denying Coastal Pacific’s motion for summary adjudication and instead granted the motion as trial was about to begin. Raines contended triable issues of fact remained: (1) on her individual claim for statutory penalties; (2) whether she sustained an injury; and (3) whether Coastal Pacific’s failure to provide accurate wage statements was knowing and intentional. Raines also argued the trial court erred in granting summary adjudication on her PAGA claim by improperly finding injury was required, and that the trial court erred in reversing its original order denying summary adjudication. The Court of Appeal found merit in only Raines' PAGA claim: a representative PAGA claim for civil penalties for a violation of Labor Code section 226(a) did not require proof of injury or a knowing and intentional violation. "This is true even though these two elements are required to be proven when bringing an individual claim for damages or statutory penalties under section 226(e). Because the trial court erroneously required proof of injury on the PAGA claim, the grant of summary adjudication was improper and we therefore reverse the judgment as to that claim." View "Raines v. Coastal Pacific Food Distributors" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Carl Taswell, M.D., who is certified in nuclear medicine, filed a complaint against the Regents of the University of California (the Regents). Taswell alleged he was retaliated against for his whistleblowing activities regarding patient safety at the brain imaging center during his employment by the University of California, Irvine. Taswell appealed after the trial court granted the Regents’ motion for summary judgment and summary adjudication. After review, the Court of Appeal reversed, finding that, following an administrative hearing, Taswell was not required to exhaust his judicial remedies (by seeking a writ of mandamus) to challenge the University’s rejection of his claims of retaliation. After exhausting his administrative remedies, Taswell was statutorily authorized to file this civil action and seek damages based on his statutory whistleblower retaliation claims; the administrative decision had no res judicata or collateral estoppel effect on this action. Also, a triable issue of material fact existed as to whether the University’s decisions to place Taswell on an investigatory leave of absence and to not renew his contract had a causal connection to Taswell’s whistleblowing activities. Therefore, summary judgment and/or summary adjudication should not have been granted on the theory that no triable issue of fact existed. View "Taswell v. The Regents of the Univ. of Cal." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Carl Taswell, M.D., who is certified in nuclear medicine, filed a complaint against the Regents of the University of California (the Regents). Taswell alleged he was retaliated against for his whistleblowing activities regarding patient safety at the brain imaging center during his employment by the University of California, Irvine. Taswell appealed after the trial court granted the Regents’ motion for summary judgment and summary adjudication. After review, the Court of Appeal reversed, finding that, following an administrative hearing, Taswell was not required to exhaust his judicial remedies (by seeking a writ of mandamus) to challenge the University’s rejection of his claims of retaliation. After exhausting his administrative remedies, Taswell was statutorily authorized to file this civil action and seek damages based on his statutory whistleblower retaliation claims; the administrative decision had no res judicata or collateral estoppel effect on this action. Also, a triable issue of material fact existed as to whether the University’s decisions to place Taswell on an investigatory leave of absence and to not renew his contract had a causal connection to Taswell’s whistleblowing activities. Therefore, summary judgment and/or summary adjudication should not have been granted on the theory that no triable issue of fact existed. View "Taswell v. The Regents of the Univ. of Cal." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jorge Fierro filed a class action suit against defendant Landry's Restaurant Inc., seeking remedies for what Fierro alleged to be Landry's' violations of specified California labor laws and wage orders. Landry's demurred to the complaint on the basis that each of the causes of action was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. As to Fierro's individual claims, the trial court overruled the demurrer, concluding that the statute of limitations defense did not appear affirmatively on the face of the complaint. As to the class claims, the trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend on the basis that a prior class action with identical class claims against Landry's had been dismissed for failure to bring the case to trial in five years as required by Code of Civil Procedure sections 583.310 and 583.360. Under the "death knell" doctrine, Fierro appealed that portion of the order sustaining without leave to amend the demurrer to the class claims. The Court of Appeals determined the trial court erred. From the record presented, the Court could not determine the basis of the dismissal of the prior action; and, in any event, because the dismissal of the prior action was not final for purposes of res judicata or collateral estoppel, it could not form the basis of a defense to the class claims in this action. Furthermore, because the Court agreed with the trial court that the statute of limitations defense did not appear affirmatively on the face of the complaint, there was no alternative basis on which to affirm the dismissal of the class claims. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded this matter with instructions to enter an order overruling Landry's' demurrer in its entirety. View "Fierro v. Landry's Restaurant Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jorge Fierro filed a class action suit against defendant Landry's Restaurant Inc., seeking remedies for what Fierro alleged to be Landry's' violations of specified California labor laws and wage orders. Landry's demurred to the complaint on the basis that each of the causes of action was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. As to Fierro's individual claims, the trial court overruled the demurrer, concluding that the statute of limitations defense did not appear affirmatively on the face of the complaint. As to the class claims, the trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend on the basis that a prior class action with identical class claims against Landry's had been dismissed for failure to bring the case to trial in five years as required by Code of Civil Procedure sections 583.310 and 583.360. Under the "death knell" doctrine, Fierro appealed that portion of the order sustaining without leave to amend the demurrer to the class claims. The Court of Appeals determined the trial court erred. From the record presented, the Court could not determine the basis of the dismissal of the prior action; and, in any event, because the dismissal of the prior action was not final for purposes of res judicata or collateral estoppel, it could not form the basis of a defense to the class claims in this action. Furthermore, because the Court agreed with the trial court that the statute of limitations defense did not appear affirmatively on the face of the complaint, there was no alternative basis on which to affirm the dismissal of the class claims. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded this matter with instructions to enter an order overruling Landry's' demurrer in its entirety. View "Fierro v. Landry's Restaurant Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a successful wage and hour class action against defendant over the use of an Alternative Workweek Schedule (AWS). After the trial court held that the AWS was improperly adopted, plaintiffs obtained judgment for unpaid overtime, interest, waiting time penalties, inaccurate wage statement penalties, and attorney's fees. The Court of Appeal held that the evidence did not support the full award of damages for unpaid overtime and that the wage statement penalties must be reversed. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court's judgment in part, reversed in part, and remanded with directions for the trial court to (1) reduce the award of overtime damages to provide the overtime premium of 1 hour 45 minutes per shift, rather than 2 hours per shift; (2) recalculate the waiting time penalties and interest accordingly; and (3) eliminate the award for wage statement penalties. The court vacated the trial court's award of attorney's fees in order to permit the trial court to reconsider the issue following remand. View "Maldonado v. Epsilon Plastics" on Justia Law

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Arnaudo Brothers challenged the Board's award of make whole-relief based on the determination that the company's litigation of a disclaimer issue did not further the policies and purpose of the Agriculture Labor Relations Act of 1975. The Court of Appeal held that the Board did not err when it identified and applied the rules that define when a certified union has made a disclaimer of interest in representing the bargaining unit; determined the statement by the Union representative that "we’re through with you" (if made) was not a clear and unequivocal disclaimer of interest; and concluded the Union's subsequent conduct consistent with a disclaimer could not render the equivocal disclaimer effective. Finally, the principles set forth in Tri-Fanucchi Farms v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd., (2017) 3 Cal.5th 1161, compelled the conclusion that the Board properly exercised its broad discretionary authority when it awarded make-whole relief in this case. View "Arnaudo Brothers v. ALRB" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Marisa Hernandez worked for defendant Rancho Santiago Community College District on and off for a number of years without any complaints about her performance. In 2013, she was hired as an administrative assistant. During her one-year probationary period, her performance was to be evaluated at three months, seven months, and 11 months. At the completion of 12 months of probation, she would be considered a permanent employee. Eight months into her probationary period and with the district’s consent, she went on a temporary disability leave to have surgery to replace a knuckle on a finger she injured while working for the district prior to her most recent hiring. She was scheduled to return to work on, or shortly after, the anniversary of her hiring date. The district, however, terminated her while she was on the approved leave, because her performance had not been reviewed. Hernandez sued the district under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (the FEHA, Gov. Code, sec. 12940(m), (n)), contending it failed to make reasonable accommodation for her medical condition and failed to engage in an interactive process. At the conclusion of the court trial, the court found in Hernandez’s favor and awarded her $723,746 in damages. The trial court found the district could have accommodated her by extending her probationary period, by deducting the four months she was on disability leave from her probationary period, or by adding the time away from work to the probationary period, and, contrary to the district’s position, the district would not have been required to make Hernandez a permanent employee on the anniversary of her hiring. The district appealed, contending it had to terminate Hernandez’s probation and employment because if it did not, she would have become a permanent employee without having had her performance evaluated. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. View "Hernandez v. Rancho Santiago Community College Dist." on Justia Law