California Workplace Law Blog

Insight & Commentary on California Workplace Law Issues & Developments

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The last few weeks have been quite tense for California employers as they watched the drama unfold with the state’s Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) over amendments to the standing COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) In case you missed it: a few weeks ago, Cal/OSHA delayed a vote on amendments to the ETS to have more time to consider new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the state’s health department. Then, Cal/OSHA considered new proposed amendments, which passed following two votes during an emergency meeting. These changes would have…
On January 1, 2021, California’s statewide minimum wage increased to $14 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees and $13 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. Now that we are almost halfway into the year, all things need to get ready for summer, including minimum wage rates.  Many localities have their own minimum wage ordinances which are higher than the state minimum wage and are set to increase this summer. The following local minimum wages will increase effective July 1: Locality New Minimum Wage Berkeley $16.32 Emeryville $17.93 City of Los Angeles $15.00 County of…
In a significant victory for California employers, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a $102 million award against Walmart in a suit alleging that the retailer violated the California Labor Code’s wage statement and meal-break provisions. The decision is Magadia v. Wal-Mart Associates, Inc., May 28, 2021, No. 19-16184. The Ninth Circuit’s opinion is an important clarification of the cognizable harm required to establish Article III standing under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) and the Labor Code’s wage statement requirements. The critical takeaways: An employee does not have standing to bring PAGA claims in…
In an emergency meeting on June 9th, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board reversed itself and voted to withdraw the amended COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) it had just approved on June 3rd.  As such, employers will remain governed by the ETS that was passed in November 2020. The emergency meeting was held so that the Board could consider changes to California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance regarding face coverings that will go into effect June 15th. The Board could consider new revisions as early as their regular meeting scheduled for June 17th. The Board also has the option…
California law is not typically seen as amiable to compelling employees to arbitrate their claims. However, in Franklin v. Community Regional Medical Center, ___ F.3d___(9th Cir. 2021), the Ninth Circuit panel upheld a motion to compel arbitration by a non-signatory to an arbitration agreement based on California law. Read the full article on Jackson Lewis Litigators at Work.…
Before 2020, the City of Santa Monica was one of a handful of cities that had a right of recall ordinance. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, many local governments enacted right to recall ordinances to return displaced workers to their prior positions.  Recently, the state joined these local governments, passing SB 93 relating to the right of recall for the hospitality industry. As more employers have obligations under such regulations, the California Court of Appeal has timely issued a published opinion regarding Santa Monica’s right of recall ordinance, which the Court of Appeal notes is similar to the…
On May 20, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board  (“Board”) delayed a vote on proposed changes to the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”). At that time, the Board claimed they would revise the ETS to address updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) for fully vaccinated persons. However, the revised ETS passed by the Board late on June 3rd falls short of following all of the CDC’s newest guidance and takes a more restrictive approach than previously proposed revisions. The amended ETS will be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) and the OAL has 10…
Since California announced plans for “preparing to get back to normal,” many California employers have eyed California’s reopening date of June 15th as the date they can return to the office or resume normal operations. But even though it is clear California wants to reopen the economy, California employers that are preparing their return to work plans are still unsure of what steps they need to ensure a safe workplace for employees as they return. This is largely because California public health and safety agencies continue to impose significant obligations on employers related to COVID-19 preventive measures and management and some…
As the June 15th reopening date approaches, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a statement describing significantly reduced COVID-19 restrictions.  The CDPH statement confirms all sectors listed in the current California Blueprint for a Safer Economy may return to usual operations based on several general public health recommendations. Capacity limitations and physical distancing will no longer be required. California will continue to follow CDPH guidance for face coverings. California’s guidance has not been updated to mirror the CDC.  While the Governor and others have indicated California will update its face-covering guidance, it has not yet occurred.…
In the wake of recent workplace shootings, employers may be wondering if there are any specific regulations to protect employees from such events. Labor Code § 6302(h) as part of the California Occupational Safety and Health Act, excludes “any injury or illness or death caused by the commission of a Penal Code violation” from the definition of serious injury or illness, and Cal/OSHA has no mandatory duty to respond to such incidents. However, Cal/OSHA does have the authority to investigate any workplace accident on a discretionary basis, as provided by Labor Code § 6313(b), which states: “[t]he division may investigate…