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In September 2016, after a five-year investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division made an announcement: it had reached an agreement with Los Angeles County Superior Court to resolve allegations that the court was discriminating against its users based on their national origin. The department launched the federal probe in response to an administrative complaint filed in 2010 by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), which claimed the court was failing to provide meaningful access to its services for individuals who spoke limited English — in a state where 20 percent of the population fit that…
If you’ve read my prior articles for CEB, you may have recall my first post on reframing your relationship with your rules of professional conduct. I specifically discussed California Rules of Professional Conduct, rule 1.1, “Competence,” encouraging readers to pay close attention to the concept of “legal services.” Legal services incorporate everything that a lawyer utilizes to represent their clients and run a law firm. On March 22, the California Supreme Court adopted new language in comment 1 to include a lawyer’s duty to have competence in their use of technology. Comment 1 specifically states: “The duties set forth in…
One thing unchanged by the COVID-19 pandemic is California’s hesitancy to join the now nearly two-thirds of U.S. states authorizing some form of remote online notarization, or “RON,” whereby notaries and document-signers can communicate online using audiovisual technology rather than meet face-to-face. California’s latest attempt to authorize RON—the “California Notary Protection Act,” or AB 1093—is stuck in the Legislature, suggesting that for at least another year, California notaries must continue to perform their duties in signers’ physical presence. Socially Distant Notaries in 2020 As CEB reported last year, California lawmakers proposed, but never enacted, emergency COVID-19 notary legislation
As of April 16, 2021, at least 1831 lawsuits regarding denials of insurance benefits for COVID-19 claims have been filed nationwide. Rather than slowing, the number of lawsuits filed each month has increased every month since March 2020. Insurance policies with Business Income, Extra Expense, or Civil Authority coverage typically afford coverage for “direct physical loss of or damage to” insured property or property located within a specified distance from the insured property. See ISO form CP 00 30 10 12 (Business Income And Extra Expense) or ISO form BP 00 30 07 13 (Businessowners Coverage Form, Business Income).…
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 first recognized the viability of the so-called “ministerial exception,” an affirmative defense that forecloses discrimination claims against a religious entity when the plaintiff plays a central role in the entity’s core religious mission. As with many legal questions, however, the trick is delineating the scope of the exception. Although the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on this question is scant, its two decisions unmistakably show a tendency toward expanding the exception’s reach, particularly in light of the court’s current makeup. Side note: Don’t confuse the ministerial exception with statutory provisions in federal antidiscrimination statutes that expressly…
When was the last time you read your engagement letter line by line, from beginning to end? No, really, when did you do this last? Do you recall the last time you updated your engagement letter? You can answer honestly, because you’re probably reading this in the comfort of your office. Maybe updating your engagement agreement has been at the top of your to-do list for a while. Well, now is as good a time as any. My general advice to clients and friends is to read your template engagement letter from beginning to end, line by line, at least…
It was 2018, and one of Asher Waite-Jones’ clients was making minimum wage working part-time in a warehouse when he was assessed about $2000 in fines and fees for a DUI conviction. To pay those, the client, a young man in his 20s, dropped out of school so he could pick up additional work hours. But not long afterward, he was laid off. The client spent a couple of years looking for other work, but his criminal record made it hard to find steady employment. And when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, his options narrowed even more. When Congress passed the…
With over 200 languages and dialects spoken in California, court interpreters are essential to breaking down the language barriers that inhibit many Californians from accessing our courts. According to the statewide Language Access Plan Report adopted by the Judicial Council of California in 2015, approximately 40% of Californians speak a language that isn’t English at home, and approximately 20% have English language limitations. Given this significant need, the high demand for court interpreters in California family law departments comes as no surprise. But requesting and working with court interpreters in family law proceedings can be tricky, especially if you’re not…
In 2020, the California courts of appeal published several cases with useful guidance for litigators claiming or opposing statutory attorney’s fees. In Department of Fair Employment & Hous. v. Cathy’s Creations, Inc. (2020) 54 Cal.App.5th 404, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued a bakery that denied services to a same-sex couple, but lost its suit for injunctive relief. The court held that the prevailing defendant was not entitled to attorney’s fees under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 because Government Code section 12974, a unilateral fee-shifting statute that provides fees to DFEH only, is the later…
Seyfarth Synopsis: Headlining the number of employment-related bills California legislators introduced by the February 19th deadline are those that would extend COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave and provide other leaves and accommodations. After last year’s pandemic-caused truncation of the 2020 legislative session—in which the governor signed only 372 new laws, the fewest since 1967—many expected the introduction of a large number of bills. Yet “only” 1,560 bills were introduced in the Assembly this year, the lowest number in six years—though there is no shortage of labor and employment-related bills. Below, we summarize the most significant labor and employment bills introduced,…