Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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The appeal presented to the Court of Appeal here was one in a certified wage and hour class action following a judgment after a bench trial in favor of defendants Certified Tire and Services Centers, Inc. (Certified Tire) and Barrett Business Services. Inc. (collectively, defendants). Plaintiffs contended Certified Tire violated the applicable minimum wage and rest period requirements by implementing a compensation program, which guaranteed its automotive technicians a specific hourly wage above the minimum wage for all hours worked during each pay period but also gave them the possibility of earning a higher hourly wage for all hours worked during each pay period based on certain productivity measures. The Court of Appeal concluded plaintiffs' arguments lacked merit, and accordingly affirmed the judgment. View "Certified Tire and Service Centers Wage and Hour Cases" on Justia Law

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Levandowski and Ron started working at Google in 2007. Both resigned from Google in 2016. After leaving, they formed Otto, a self-driving technology company which Google considered a competitor of its own self-driving car project. In August 2016, Otto was acquired by Uber. In October 2016, Google initiated arbitration proceedings against Levandowski and Ron for allegedly breaching non-solicitation and non-competition agreements. The arbitration was scheduled to commence in April 2018. Google sought discovery from Uber, a nonparty to the arbitration, related to pre-acquisition due diligence done by Stroz at the request of Uber and Otto’s outside counsel. Over Uber’s objections, the arbitration panel determined the due diligence documents were not protected by either the attorney client privilege or the attorney work product doctrine and ordered them produced. Uber initiated a special proceeding in superior court seeking to vacate the discovery order and prevailed. The court of appeal reversed the superior court’s order. The due diligence-related documents prepared by Stroz were not protected attorney-client communications nor were they entitled to absolute protection from disclosure under the attorney work product doctrine. Although the materials had qualified protection as work product, denial of the materials would unfairly prejudice Google’s preparation of its claims. View "Uber Technologies, Inc. v. Google LLC" on Justia Law

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Paolo Pedrazzani was the owner, president, secretary, and director of Pama, Inc. which did business as Via Italia Trattoria (Via Italia), a restaurant in Encinitas. During the time period for which the trial court awarded the civil penalties at issue, Pama employed 71 individuals at Via Italia. Labor Code section 558 (a) provided that an employer "or other person acting on behalf of an employer" who violates or causes a violation of the state's applicable overtime laws shall be subject to a civil penalty. Similarly, section 1197.1 (a) provided that an employer "or other person acting either individually or as an officer, agent, or employee of another person" who pays or causes to pay an employee less than the state's applicable minimum wage shall be subject to a civil penalty. Following a trial, the superior court issued civil penalties against Pedrazzani as the corporate employer's owner as the "other person" who caused violations of these two statutes. The issue on appeal was whether any individual other than the corporate employer can ever be found liable for the civil penalties associated with statutory violations in the payment of wages to a corporate employee where, as here, there is no allegation or finding that the corporate laws have been misused or abused for a wrongful or inequitable purpose. The Court of Appeal modified judgment against Pedrazzani to the extend that civil penalties assessed were not distributed in accordance with the applicable statutory scheme; otherwise, the judgment was affirmed. View "Atempa v. Pedrazzani" on Justia Law

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The Association represents San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officers. The Commission prescribes and enforces SFPD regulations. The agreement between the two gives the Association the right to notice and an opportunity to meet and confer regarding “any proposed change in general orders or other matters within the scope of representation.” The Commission announced that it planned to revise SFPD’s use of force policy and began meeting with stakeholders. In response to the Association's request that the city confer regarding the proposed policy, the city stated that "the policy is a managerial right outside the scope of bargaining" but agreed to meet once the new policy was approved, “to consider negotiable impacts.” A draft policy was prepared. Disagreement remained regarding provisions that prohibited police use of the carotid restraint and strictly prohibiting officers from shooting at moving vehicles. The Commission adopted the policy. The city met nine times with the Association then declared an impasse. The Association filed a grievance, alleging failure to negotiate in good faith. The city concluded that remaining areas of disagreement were management rights, outside the scope of representation, including the prohibition against shooting at moving vehicles and the ban on carotid restraint. The court of appeal affirmed denial of the Association’s motion to compel arbitration. The parties did not agree to subject the city’s determinations regarding the revised use of force policy to arbitration. View "San Francisco Police Officers' Association. v. San Francisco Police Commission" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal granted the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (Department) petition for review (Petition) of a Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (Board) opinion, which raised an issue of statutory construction. The Petition posited whether a finding of permanent total disability had to be made in accordance with Labor Code section 4660, or did section 4662 (b), provide a separate path to such a finding. The Court of Appeal concluded section 4660 governed how the finding and award of permanent total disability shall be made “in accordance with the fact,” as provided in section 4662 (b). View "Department of Corrections etc. v. W.C.A.B. etc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Sarah Sumner was the dean of A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary (Tozer Seminary), part of defendant Simpson University in Redding, California. Although Sumner had a written employment agreement, her employment was terminated by Robin Dummer in his capacity as acting provost of the university on the ground Sumner was insubordinate. In response to Sumner’s complaint alleging breach of contract, defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, defendants moved for summary judgment on the ground Sumner’s employment was within the ministerial exception, an affirmative defense, and that as a result judicial review of her employment-related dispute was precluded by the First Amendment. The trial court agreed, and granted summary judgment. Sumner argues the ministerial exception was not applicable because she was not a minister, and the facts were in dispute as to whether Simpson University was a religious organization. She argues that even assuming the ministerial exception is applicable, it did not preclude enforcement of her contract and tort claims. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court correctly concluded that Simpson University was a religious organization and that Sumner was a minister for purposes of the ministerial exception, but that her contract cause of action was not foreclosed by the ministerial exception. Defendants failed to show that resolution of Sumner’s contract claim would excessively entangle the court in religious matters. However, her tort causes of action were part and parcel of the actions involved in her termination, and were therefore barred by the ministerial exception. View "Sumner v. Simpson University" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jessica Ayon appealed an adverse summary judgment in a personal injury case. Late one evening in May 2013, Brittini Zuppardo was driving home from her boyfriend’s house while talking on the phone with Michelle Halkett. Zuppardo was defendant Esquire Deposition Solution’s (Esquire) scheduling manager; Halkett was a court reporter for Esquire. Zuppardo’s vehicle struck plaintiff, who suffered significant injuries. The issue here at trial was whether Esquire could be held liable under a theory of respondeat superior. In their depositions, both Zuppardo and Halkett testified they were good friends and were talking about family matters on the evening of the accident. It was not within Zuppardo’s job description to call court reporters after hours for work purposes, though on rare occasions she had done so. Plaintiff contended a jury could have inferred from evidence admitted at trial that the two did not, in fact, have a close friendship, and that the call concerned work matters, not personal matters. Code of Civil Procedure section 437c(e) provided that “summary judgment shall not be denied on grounds of credibility,” with certain exceptions. The Court of Appeal determined no execution could be applied in this case; ultimately, plaintiff had no evidence that Zuppardo was operating within the scope of her employment at the time of the accident. Plaintiff attacked Zuppardo’s and Halkett’s credibility. "But that is not enough, and thus the court correctly granted summary judgment." View "Ayon v. Esquire Deposition Solutions" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Moss Bros. Toy, Inc. (MBT) appealed an order granting defendant-respondent Ernesto Ruiz’s anti-SLAPP motion, or special motion to strike MBT’s entire first amended complaint (FAC) against Ruiz. The FAC alleged MBT was Ruiz’s former employer and that Ruiz breached two March 2010 arbitration agreements with MBT by failing to submit Ruiz’s employment- related claims against MBT to arbitration, and by instead filing a lawsuit for his employment-related claims against MBT’s agent, Moss Bros. Auto Group, Inc. (MBAG). MBT claimed the anti-SLAPP motion was erroneously granted because the FAC was not based on protected activity, but was instead based on Ruiz’s breach of his March 2010 arbitration agreements with MBT. MBT also claimed it demonstrated a probability of prevailing on its claims alleged in the FAC. After review, the Court of Appeal affirmed the order granting the anti-SLAPP motion. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court discussed that the entire FAC was based on protected activity, namely, Ruiz’s act of filing his lawsuit against MBAG for his employment-related claims in case No. CIVDS2107201, even though the FAC was also based on Ruiz’s alleged breach of the 2010 arbitration agreements. In the unpublished portion of this opinion, the Court explained that MBT failed to demonstrate the probability of prevailing on its claims against Ruiz as alleged in the FAC. View "Moss Bros. Toy, Inc. v. Ruiz" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Joe's Crab Shack and Landry's Restaurants on behalf of a putative class of salaried employees of Joe's Crab Shack restaurants in California who were allegedly misclassified as exempt managerial/executive employees and unlawfully denied overtime pay. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss because plaintiffs failed to bring their suit to trial within five years. The court held that the appeal of the district court's remand order did not make it impracticable or futile to bring the case to trial within the statutory period; any delay in fully complying with the electronic discovery order did not make it impracticable or futile to bring the case to trial within the statutory period; and the court need not determine whether this court's writ review of the order compelling disclosure of putative class members' contact information made it impracticable or futile to bring the case to trial within the statutory period. View "Martinez v. Landry's Restaurants, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Labor Commissioner issued an award of $81,565.34 in favor of Burkes, an employee of Robertson’s business, for unpaid overtime wages, penalties, and interest. Robertson filed a timely pro se notice of appeal in the Solano County Superior Court but failed to post a statutorily required appeal bond or cash deposit in the amount of the award within the time provided (Lab. Code 98.2(b). He subsequently requested a waiver of the requirement, alleging indigency. The trial court found Robertson’s failure to request a waiver before the deadline for filing a section 98.2 notice of appeal deprived it of jurisdiction and dismissed the appeal. The court of appeal affirmed. A section 98.2 notice of appeal is the statutory prerequisite for obtaining a trial de novo in superior court; although an appeal and trial de novo are distinct concepts, in this context the terms are often used interchangeably. Even if the jurisdictional undertaking requirement did affect the availability of the trial de novo process for employers, it does not deprive the employer of a full and fair opportunity to be heard on a wage claim. The primary process for deciding wage claims is not the trial de novo but the administrative procedure reflected in section 98. View "Burkes v. Robertson" on Justia Law