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Brent Douglas is an Associate in the Employment, Labor & Benefits Practice, and is based in the firm’s San Diego office. He counsels employers and corporate executives on employment law issues, including class action claims. Brent also advises clients on avoiding or mitigating workplace issues, conducts workplace investigations, and trainings for management personnel on nondiscrimination, non-harassment, and anti-bullying.

Today we offer our last installment in our 2016 Year in Review segment, which will cover the key labor & employment law developments from 2016 in California. Prior installments for the DC Metro Area, New York and Massachusetts are available here.  In addition, please join us in NYC on April 6, 2017 for Mintz Levin’s Third Annual Employment Law Summit as we address some of the key labor & employment issues impacting employers in 2017.  Register here.

In 2016 employers in California had to adjust to compensation and benefits related changes such as a new state minimum wage, a new method of calculating compensation for “piece-rate employees,” and expanded “kin care” benefits. The California Fair Pay Act, aimed at addressing gender wage discrimination also went into effect, modifying existing laws in a few key ways. The legislature also amended California’s Private Attorneys General Act to grant employers a few new ways to “cure” violations.

In 2017 employers should ensure they are complying with “all gender” bathroom requirements and that when making hiring decisions they do not rely on “juvenile offense history.” Employers should also be aware that there is a trend for cities and/or counties to further limit the kinds of information employers may consider in making hiring decisions. Also on the horizon is the probability that the legislature will revisit a new unpaid parental leave law that would impact smaller businesses.

Continue Reading 2016 California Employment Law Year In Review

By Michael Arnold, Brent Douglas and Audrey Nguyen

Beginning next year, employers may no longer force their California employees to resolve their employment-related disputes outside of California or use non-California law when doing so.  With limited exceptions, the new law, codified at Labor Code Section 925, will be applicable to all employment agreements entered into, modified, or extended on or after January 1, 2017.  The new law is yet another attempt by California policymakers to provide added protections to employees working in their state.

Continue Reading Another Employee-Friendly Law: New California Law Aims to Keep Employment-Related Disputes Centered in California

Did you know that the world is now inhabited by creatures called Pokémon?  (Or maybe they’ve always been there?)  Some run across the plains; others fly through the skies; and some live in the mountains….and some, yes, some, are located right in your workplace.  Pokeman WorkplaceThrough the magic of downloading Pokémon Go to your smartphone, you too can see these creatures and catch them for some apparently critical scientific testing.

Employers not familiar with Pikachu, Charizard, and Lucario can rest assured – your employees are.  In less than one week, Pokémon Go became the most downloaded smartphone videogame ever, and employers are clamoring for advice on how to deal with a workforce that already seems sufficiently and consistently distracted.

Continue Reading Pokémon Go in the Workplace: Oh Look There’s a Pikachu!

The trend toward local regulation of employment laws continues in California with three new local wage and hour enactments.

San Diego

On June 7, 2016, San Diego voters passed a ballot initiative containing two provisions for hourly workers. First, San Diego’s new minimum wage will be $10.50 per hour once the ballot results are confirmed, which is expected to be in mid-July.  Second, San Diego will have its own paid sick leave policy of five days (40 hours) – which is in excess of the state law that allows employers to limit use of accrued paid sick leave to three days (24 hours).

Like the state law, San Diego’s paid sick leave will accrue at one hour for every 30 hours worked and cannot be used until after 90 days of employment. Also like the state law, San Diego’s sick leave initiative allows accrued leave to be front loaded or accrued, and it must be carried over year to year.

Continue Reading Three California Municipalities Enact New Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Laws

California and New York have each passed laws that will gradually raise their state’s minimum wage rate to $15 per hour.  This is a stunning development coming just four years after a small group of New York fast food workers initiated the call for the increase.  The new laws will impact millions of Americans and put pressure on other jurisdictions and business to make similar increases in other parts of the country.  We briefly break down the new laws below.

Continue Reading California and New York Approve Phased-In $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage, Highest in Country’s History

From:              Ned Help

To:                   Carrie Counselor

Date:               April 6, 2016

Subject:          Offer Letters for Employees Working Abroad

Ned:

As promised, I am following up on my email from last week regarding some additional resources for employees working abroad.  The offer/assignment letter is a great place to specifically outline additional resources and tools the employer will provide to the employee stationed abroad, which may include the following:

Continue Reading Innocents Abroad: Sending Employees Into Harm’s Way – A Word About Offer Letters – Part II

The United States Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Tyson Foods employees could use representative evidence to establish liability and damages for class certification purposes.  The opinion gives the plaintiffs’ class action bar a second victory in the Court’s current term, albeit a far narrower one than many commentators had feared.  (We covered the first victory here.)  Perhaps, more importantly, the Court sidestepped a seemingly more controversial issue regarding whether a class may include uninjured class members.  That issue will have to be decided another day.  We analyze the Tyson Foods opinion below.

Continue Reading Taking an Evidentiary Approach, the Supreme Court Rules that Employees Can Use Representative Samples to Establish Classwide Liability and Damages, But It Leaves Open Question of Whether Classes Can Include Uninjured Class Members

From:             Ned Help

To:                 Carrie Counselor

Date:              March 23, 2016

Subject:         Offer Letters for Employees Working Abroad

Carrie:

Although I’ve been writing offer and assignment letters for more than 15 years, I’m curious as to what are today’s best practices for preparing these documents as our company extends its global reach.  Specifically, what are the critical components these letters need to address for employees who will be working abroad in places like Latin America, Northern Africa, and the Middle East?  As a company entering markets in the developing part of the world, we are increasingly sending our employees into unstable areas, and we do not have any special policies implemented for these situations.  What are other companies doing to address employees in these situations?

Thanks,
Ned

Continue Reading Innocents Abroad: Sending Employees Into Harm’s Way – A Word About Offer Letters – Part I

Beginning April 1, 2016, new California regulations (§11023 specifically) will require all California employers with more than five employees to have written policies regarding harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.  For some employers, this may mean drafting a specific policy for the first time; for others, it may require some tinkering with an existing policy.  Below we address the new regulations.

Continue Reading Notice to California Employers: New Rules Dictate Precisely What Must Be in Handbooks Regarding Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation

In Howard v. Hertz Global Holdings, Inc., a Hawaiian Federal Court found that Hertz Rent-a-Car could not be held responsible for its employee’s Facebook comments about one of its customers.  While employers should welcome the outcome, it did turn on the facts, and could have produced a different result under different circumstances.  Employers therefore, should consider installing safeguards to ensure proper social media use by their employees.

Continue Reading Employer Not Responsible for Employee Defaming Customer on Facebook