California Passes AB 5: The Lawful Use of Independent Contractors in California is Drastically Limited

Caroline Powell Donelan and Caitlin I. Sanders

Just last year, the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal. 5th 903 (“Dynamex”) abruptly replaced the longstanding test in California for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor (versus an employee) with a more stringent “ABC” test for purposes of the California Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Orders.

Under the “ABC” test, a worker is presumed to be an employee unless the hiring entity can prove that the worker is (A) free from control; (B) providing services unrelated to the hiring entity’s business; and (C) holding him or herself out as an independent business. More on the landmark decision in Dynamex can be found here.

Last week, California Governor Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill (“AB”) 5, which codifies and expands the “ABC” test set forth in Dynamex, making it even more difficult for employers to properly classify workers as independent contractors in California.

What are the basic provisions of AB 5? Continue reading “California Passes AB 5: The Lawful Use of Independent Contractors in California is Drastically Limited”

Once in a Lifetime? Rare Battle Won for Golden State Employers—but the PAGA War Rages On

Caroline Powell Donelan and Taylor C. Morosco

While talking heads focused on the debates heating up in Houston last week, the California Supreme Court on Thursday put an end to a nearly five-year debate regarding the permissible scope of recovery and arbitrability under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”), a statute that has left employers in the Golden State scratching their heads for over a decade.

On September 12, 2019, California’s highest court held that “underpaid wages” are not recoverable under PAGA. The decision, ZB, N.A. v. Superior Court (“Lawson”), marks big changes in the wild-west of PAGA litigation, yet many key questions remain unanswered.

You May Ask Yourself, Well, How Did I Get Here?

Ahh, PAGA. Where to begin? For the last 15 years, PAGA has allowed private citizens to step into the shoes of the Labor Commissioner, essentially turning “aggrieved” employees into bounty-hunters for the State’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency (“LWDA”). Specifically, PAGA litigants are authorized to recover civil penalties on behalf of the State for certain Labor Code violations, which would otherwise be recoverable only by the Labor Commissioner. If successful, employees receive a 25 percent share of civil penalties recovered, with the remaining 75 percent going to the LWDA. And one other thing, PAGA allows for the recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs, which are often exponentially larger than the underlying civil penalties and statutory damages recovered—leaving no surprise as to why PAGA has become such a popular vehicle for plaintiffs’ attorneys. Continue readingOnce in a Lifetime? Rare Battle Won for Golden State Employers—but the PAGA War Rages On”

New York Expands Workplace Protections for Religious Attire, Clothing, and Facial Hair

Mara B. Levin, Anthony A. Mingione, Stephen E. Tisman, and Jacob W.E. Kearney

A new amendment to the New York State Human Rights Law expressly prohibits workplace discrimination based on religious attire, clothing, and facial hair. New York employers should review their current policies and work with counsel to ensure compliance by the October 8, 2019, effective date.

Governor Cuomo recently signed legislation (S.4037/A.4204) that amends the New York State Human Rights Law to expand religious protections for employees and applicants in the workplace. The New York State Human Rights Law already prohibits employers from imposing upon employees and applicants “a condition of obtaining or retaining employment” that would require them “to violate or forego a sincerely held practice of [their] religion.” N.Y. Exec. Law § 296(10)(a). The new law ensures that those same protections now encompass an employee’s or applicant’s religious attire, clothing, and facial hair. Continue reading “New York Expands Workplace Protections for Religious Attire, Clothing, and Facial Hair”

New York Closes in on Comprehensive Employee Wage Lien Law

Mara B. Levin, Anthony A. Mingione, and Stephen E. Tisman

New York is on the precipice of passing a law that would allow employees to easily file liens against an employer’s property in connection with pending wage disputes. The bill also would permit employee access to certain sensitive employer records and expand the scope of personal liability for owners in disputes over wages. Employers should monitor these developments and work with counsel to prepare an action plan should this bill become law.

The New York State Legislature has recently passed a bill that could substantially alter the legal landscape of wage disputes if signed into law by Governor Cuomo. The proposed Employee Wage Lien bill would allow employees to obtain liens against an employer’s real property and personal property based on allegations involving nonpayment of wages. If signed into law, the bill will become effective within 30 days. Similar laws have been enacted on other states.

The law will allow employees to file a notice of a lien up to three years following the end of the employment giving rise to the wage claim. Employees will be able to place liens up to the total amount allegedly owed based on claims relating to overtime compensation, minimum wage, spread of hours pay, call-in pay, uniform maintenance, unlawful wage deductions, improper meal or tip credits or withheld gratuities, unpaid compensation due under an employment contract, or a claim that the employer violated an existing wage order. In addition, the State Attorney General and Department of Labor will be able to obtain a lien on behalf of an individual employee—or a class of employees—against an employer that is the subject of an investigation, court proceeding, or agency action.

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Have Employers Taken Home the Iron Throne with Lamps Plus?

Caroline Powell Donelan and Taylor C. Morosco

On April 24, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 5–4 opinion in Lamps Plus, Inc., et al. v. Varela holding that class arbitration is only allowed when the parties’ agreement explicitly allows for it. In other words, when an arbitration agreement is silent or even ambiguous as to whether class-wide proceedings are allowed, claims must be arbitrated on an individual basis.

Lamps Plus is the latest decision from our highest court bolstering the enforceability of individual arbitration in the workplace.

In this post, we’ll take a semi-deep dive into Lamps Plus and evaluate potential implications for your workplace as well as for future litigation strategies. Continue reading “Have Employers Taken Home the Iron Throne with Lamps Plus?”

Time to Start Collecting Pay Data—Judge Sets September 30 as Date for Filing of EEO-1s

Mark Blondman and Emery Gullickson Richards

As we reported last month Judge Tanya Chutkan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled on March 4 that the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) was to reinstate the EEOC’s 2016 pay reporting Rule, the enforcement of which had been blocked by the Trump administration. Under that Rule, which was to have been effective with the filing of EEO-1 forms in March 2018, employers with more than 100 employees would be required to collect and report aggregated W-2 data and hours worked, based on gender, race, and ethnicity, in 10 job categories, across 12 pay ranges, for each of a company’s physical locations.

The one issue left unanswered by Judge Chutkan’s March 4 Order was when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) was required to collect the employee pay data. This morning, Judge Chutkan, held that the Commission had to collect the data by September 30, 2019. The EEOC has indicated it will make the collection portal available by July 15 and provide information and training to employees prior to that date.

The clock is ticking and, absent a successful appeal of Judge Chutkan’s March 4 decision, employers should now be collecting the data required to be included in the EEO-1 form and be prepared to file those reports on or before September 30. Members of our Firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group are available to assist in navigating the EEO-1 Form.

Minimize Litigation Risks When Using Biometric Data

Ana Tagvoryan, Brooke T. Iley, and David J. Oberly

The following article was published on SHRM.org.

This is the second article in a two-part series on biometric technology and the law. The first article explains the legal requirements for using biometrics in the workplace. This article provides tips on avoiding liability.

Under various state laws, the potentially extensive legal exposure to individual and class-action lawsuits stemming from the collection, storage and use of biometric data should give employers pause before they implement biometric-data programs in the workplace.

Companies that acquire and use biometric data face the thorny task of complying with an intricate web of regulations governing the use of that data—a task that will only become more difficult as more states adopt their own versions of biometric data privacy legislation.

A new wave of biometric-data lawsuits, particularly in Illinois, will likely build as a result of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Jan. 25 ruling in Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp., No. 123186, which determined that plaintiffs can pursue claims for mere technical violations of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), even absent any actual injury or harm. Many lawsuits have not centered on challenges to employers’ use of biometric data but instead have focused on the collection of such data.

Fortunately, employers can implement several best practices to minimize the risk of becoming embroiled in litigation stemming from the use of workers’ biometric data. Continue reading “Minimize Litigation Risks When Using Biometric Data”