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Lukas Clary is a shareholder in the firm’s Labor and Employment and Litigation practice groups and serves as the firm’s Marketing Shareholder.  Lukas has experience representing clients in all aspects of employment litigation.  He regularly handles claims involving allegations of workplace discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, unpaid overtime and wages, missed meal and rest periods, and class actions.

Are you sure you’re paying your exempt employees enough?   Even if you are right now, you might not be come December 1, 2016.  The U.S. Department of Labor unveiled today its long-awaited Final Rule updating the definitions of most types of exempt employees under federal law.

While there are several important provisions in the new

To sit or not to sit, that is the question.  And now the California Supreme Court has given us an answer.  Well, sort of.  They have told us how to find the answer.  Even that’s a stretch.  Pull up a seat and I will explain.

To help it resolve two class actions involving California Wage Order requirements that employers provide employees with suitable seats, the Ninth Circuit recently certified some questions for the California Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court responded in Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.  As stated verbatim in the Supreme Court’s responsive opinion, these were the questions posed by the Ninth Circuit:Lucas Clary 02_web

  1. Does the phrase “nature of the work” refer to individual tasks performed throughout the workday, or to the entire range of an employee’s duties performed during a given day or shift?
  2. When determining whether the nature of the work “reasonably permits” use of a seat, what factors should courts consider? Specifically, are an employer’s business judgment, the physical layout of the workplace, and the characteristics of a specific employee relevant factors?
  3. If an employer has not provided any seat, must a plaintiff prove a suitable seat is available in order to show the employer has violated the seating provision?”

If you just want the short answers, the opinion was kind enough to give us those right up front as well.  Again, verbatim:

  1. The “nature of the work” refers to an employee’s tasks performed at a given location for which a right to a suitable seat is claimed, rather than a “holistic” consideration of the entire range of an employee’s duties anywhere on the jobsite during a complete shift. If the tasks being performed at a given location reasonably permit sitting, and provision of a seat would not interfere with performance of any other tasks that may require standing, a seat is called for.
  2. Whether the nature of the work reasonably permits sitting is a question to be determined objectively based on the totality of the circumstances. An employer’s business judgment and the physical layout of the workplace are relevant but not dispositive factors. The inquiry focuses on the nature of the work, not an individual employee’s characteristics.
  3. The nature of the work aside, if an employer argues there is no suitable seat available, the burden is on the employer to prove unavailability.

So, there you go.  If you just wanted the answers, you can stop reading now.  But if you want a little elaboration and more background on how the Court arrived at those answers, and my thoughts on what employers should take away from the opinion, remain seated and continue ahead.

Continue Reading Pull up a Chair: California Supreme Court Weighs in on Suitable Seating

Training new employees is expensive.  That is particularly true when an employer offers to pay for an employee’s educational training.  The benefits of doing so include a more educated and well-trained workforce, as well as increased morale and employee loyalty.  The risk, of course, is that an employee may decide to take his or her

Equal pay claims just got a lotLucas Clary 02_web tougher to defend in California.  Last month, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 358, a new law which aims to curb a statewide pay disparity between men and women.  The law, dubbed the California Fair Pay Act, goes into effect on January 1, 2016 and requires immediate, affirmative assessment by most California employers. 

Overview of the California Fair Pay Act. 

Current law already requires California employers to pay men and women the same wage for performing equal work in the same establishment.  The new law broadens that requirement.  It removes the term “equal work” and replaces it with “substantially similar work.”  This means work that is substantially similar when viewed as “a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.”  The new law also removes the “same establishment” requirement, meaning that employees can now bring equal pay claims by showing the employer paid an opposite sex employee at a different location higher wages for substantially similar work.
Continue Reading California’s New Equal Pay Laws Promise to Bring More Litigation