Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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In a challenge to a Workers' Compensation Appeals Board order, the Court of Appeal held that a writ petition was timely filed. The court also held that despite significant changes in the law governing workers' compensation in 2004, disability resulting from medical treatment for which the employer is responsible is not subject to apportionment. In this case, petitioner contended that because her permanent total disability was the result of a failed surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition she contracted primarily due to the clerical work she performed for Costco for more than 25 years, apportionment was not appropriate. The court annuled the Board's order and remanded for an increase in petitioner's disability award. View "Hikida v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Toyota, for discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Gov. Code, 12900 et seq., as well as for wrongful discharge. The trial court granted summary judgment for Toyota. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that plaintiff presented sufficient evidence that a substantial motivating factor for his termination was invidious sex or gender stereotyping related to his sexual orientation (the perception that he was "too gay"). However, the court held that plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of material fact to support his FEHA retaliation and related common law tort claim. Accordingly, the court remanded for the trial court to enter an order granting Toyota's alternative motion for summary adjudication as to these causes of action. View "Husman v. Toyota Motor Credit Corp." on Justia Law

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Petitioner, an in-home caretaker for the Department of Social Services, was riding her bicycle from one private home where she worked to another home where she was scheduled to work when she was struck and injured by a car. The Workers' Compensation Appeals Board concluded that the going and coming rule barred her claim for benefits. However, the workers' compensation judge (WCJ) found that the required vehicle exception to the going and coming rule applied because petitioner was impliedly required to provide her own transportation between patients' homes. The appeals board then concluded that petitioner's injury arose out of and in the course of employment. In this case, petitioner's transit was for the benefit of the Department and was impliedly requested by the Department. The Court of Appeal annulled the appeals board's earlier decision and remanded with directions to issue a new decision and opinion consistent with this opinion. View "Yu Qin Zhu v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board" on Justia Law

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Kao was employed by Joy Holiday, a travel tour company. Kao had come to the U.S., lived with the company’s owners, and had worked for a net “allowance” of $1,700 per month for 11 months while waiting for his work visa. After he obtained that visa, he continued to work for the company until his termination. He sued, alleging breach of contract and that his monthly salary of $2,000 to $2,500 was below statutory standards for work in excess of 40 hours a week. (29 U.S.C. 201.; Lab. Code, 1194.2.) The court ruled against Kao on his breach of contract and statutory claims but awarded damages for unpaid labor under the equitable doctrine of quantum meruit. The court of appeals reversed, finding that Kao is entitled to compensation under the wage statutes, making an equitable remedy unnecessary. The court noted the parties’ express agreement establishing Kao's work requirements and compensation and concluded that the trial court erred in finding that he was not entitled to itemized wage statements and that the delay in paying his final compensation was excusable. View "Kao v. Joy Holiday" on Justia Law

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Monterey County entered into an agreement with the Monterey County Deputy Sheriffs Association, including a longevity performance stipend that provided that a member of the Association who achieved 20 years of service with the county and a satisfactory or outstanding performance evaluation could receive an additional stipend of up to eight percent. Plaintiffs sued the county, the Sheriff’s Office, and the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), seeking to compel the county to report the longevity performance stipend to CalPERS as an item of special compensation and to compel CalPERS to include the longevity performance stipend in calculating their retirement benefits. The trial court ruled as a matter of law that the longevity performance stipend was not reportable to CalPERS as an item of special compensation under California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 571(a), and granted judgment on the pleadings. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the longevity performance stipend does not qualify as an item of special compensation that must be reported to CalPERS and included in the calculation of plaintiffs’ retirement benefits. View "DiCarlo v. County of Monterey" on Justia Law

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AMR provides ambulance services in more than 15 California counties, employing dispatchers, call takers, drivers, emergency medical technicians (EMT’s), paramedics and nurses. Plaintiffs, four current or former employees, claimed that AMR failed to provide the meal and rest periods to which they were entitled under Labor Code sections 226.7 and 512 and the applicable wage orders issued by the California Industrial Welfare Commission. They alleged a class claim under the Labor Code; a class claim under Business and Professions Code section 17200, the Unfair Competition Law; and a claim for civil penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA), a representative action not subject to class action requirements. The court of appeal reversed the trial court’s denial of class certification as based on an incorrect legal assumption about the nature of rest periods: that a rest period during which an employee remains on call may be considered an off-duty rest period. The court acknowledged that there may be other bases on which the trial court may conclude on remand that plaintiffs have not shown the predominance of common issues required for class certification of their overarching rest period claim. View "Bartoni v. American Medical Response West" on Justia Law

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Temporary staffing company Real Time Staffing Services, LLC doing business as Select Staffing (Real Time) hired Garcia in 2011 as an hourly employee. Real Time then assigned Garcia to work for Pexco, LLC. As part of the hiring process with Real Time, Garcia filled out an employment application which included an arbitration agreement between Garica and Real Time. Pexco was not a signatory to the arbitration agreement. Garcia filed suit against Real Time, Pexco, and Aerotek, Inc. for violations of the Labor Code and unfair business practices pertaining to payment of wages during his assignment with Pexco. The operative complaint alleged “each and every one of the acts and omissions alleged herein was performed by, and/or attributable to, all DEFENDANTS, each acting as agents and/or employees, and/or under the direction and control of each of the other DEFENDANTS, and that said acts and failures to act were within the course and scope of said agency, employment and/or direction and control.” Each cause of action in the operative complaint was alleged against “All Defendants” and no distinction was made between Real Time or Pexco. Real Time and Pexco moved to compel individual arbitration of Garcia’s claims. The trial court granted the motion to compel arbitration. Garcia appealed the order granting Pexco’s motion to compel individual arbitration. The Court of Appeal found Garcia was equitably estopped from denying Pexco’s right to arbitrate and the agency exception applied. View "Garcia v. Pexco, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal granted the writ application of the employer, City of Jackson (City), after the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (Board) disregarded the apportionment determination of the qualified medical evaluator (QME) on the ground the determination was not substantial medical evidence and directed the workers’ compensation administrative law judge (ALJ) to make an award of unapportioned disability. The QME concluded that the employee’s disability - neck, shoulder, arm, and hand pain - was caused by cervical degenerative disc disease, and that the disease, in turn, was caused in large part by heredity or genetics. The QME thus assigned causation 49 percent to the employee’s personal history, which included, but was not limited to, the genetic cause of the degenerative disease. The ALJ agreed with the QME’s apportionment, but the Board did not. The Board concluded the QME could not assign causation to genetics because that is an “impermissible immutable factor[].” The Board also concluded that by relying on the employee’s genetic makeup, the QME apportioned the causation of the injury rather than the extent of his disability. Finally, the Board concluded the QME’s determination was not substantial medical evidence. After review, the Court of Appeal disagreed with each of the Board’s conclusions, annulled its order, and remanded with directions to deny reconsideration. View "City of Jackson v. WCAB" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer, SCPMG, alleging that the company refused to rescind her resignation in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Gov. Code, 12940 et seq., and public policy. Plaintiff alleged that while she was working for the company, she suffered a temporary disability, which arose as a result of a relatively uncommon side effect of the medication she was taking. The adverse drug reaction she suffered allegedly caused her to suffer from an altered mental state. While she was experiencing this altered mental state, she resigned from her job at SCPMG. After the company declined to rescind the resignation, plaintiff filed suit, alleging that SCPMG acted with discriminatory animus by refusing to allow her to rescind her resignation. The court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment for SCPMG, concluding that the company's refusal to allow plaintiff to rescind her resignation was not an adverse employment action under the FEHA, and that plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the SCPMG employees who accepted and promptly processed her resignation knew of her alleged temporary disability at the time they took those actions. In this case, summary judgment was appropriate because plaintiff failed to present evidence raising a triable issue of material fact about the legality of SCPMG's actions. View "Featherstone v. Southern California Permanente Medical Group" on Justia Law

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A construction company paid its employee only for the hours he worked at a jobsite. But rather than driving his vehicle directly from his home to the jobsite, the company expected the employee to first commute to the company’s “yard,” then drive a company truck from the yard to the jobsite, transporting coworkers and materials. One day, while driving from his home to the yard, the employee collided with a motorcyclist, who sued the construction company. The trial court granted the defendant-company summary judgment, finding that the employee was commuting to his “work,” and therefore he was not acting within the scope of his employment. However, the Court of Appeal found a material, triable issue: the location of the “workplace.” If the yard was the employee’s “workplace,” then he apparently was on an ordinary commute and he was not acting within the scope of his employment. In this lawsuit, defendant inferred from the undisputed facts that its yard was the employee’s “workplace,” even though it paid its employee only from the time he arrived at the jobsite. But if the employee’s jobsite was his “workplace,” as plaintiff inferred, then the employee was arguably on a business errand to the yard for the employer’s benefit, and that business errand would have started when the employee left his home. The Court could not state as a matter of law that the employee was not on a business errand while commuting from his home to the employer’s yard. Thus, it reversed the trial court’s granting of defendant’s summary judgment motion. View "Sumrall v. Modern Alloys, Inc." on Justia Law