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Ryan Abernethy is a senior attorney in the firm’s Labor & Employment and Litigation practice groups. Ryan has successfully represented clients in all areas of employment law including the defense of claims involving workplace discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, wage and hour issues, trade secrets infringements and class actions.  He also regularly counsels clients regarding compliance, risk management, policy preparation and training.

In this age of expensive class-action litigation, many California companies have found solace in their arbitration agreements. Under certain circumstances, the enforcement of such agreements includes the dismissal of class action claims. This has largely been made possible by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) which requires judges to enforce a wide range of written arbitration agreements notwithstanding contrary state law. California courts have a long history of delivering rulings that attempt to narrow the scope and effect of the FAA. As one of the latest examples, the California Court of Appeal for the Fifth District held that truck drivers who complete only intrastate deliveries are exempt from the FAA because their work was part of a “continuous stream of interstate travel.”
Continue Reading Certain Delivery Drivers Are Exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act and May Proceed with Class Actions

On April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court applied an expansive definition of independent contractor in a ruling that is sure to have a dramatic impact on many California businesses, and the burgeoning gig economy in particular.

In the case of Dynamex Operations W. v. Superior L.A. County, a class action was brought on behalf of a group of delivery drivers who were classified as independent contractors by delivery company, Dynamex. Dynamex argued that the drivers were properly designated as independent contracts under the totality-of-the-circumstances standard set forth in the Borello case—utilized by California businesses since 1989—which concentrated primarily on the degree of control the employer exercised over the worker. Dynamex’s drivers provided their own vehicles, paid their own transportation expenses (fuel, tolls, vehicle maintenance, and insurance), set their own schedules, and were generally free to choose the sequence in which they made deliveries and the routes they would take. They were also allowed to simultaneously work for other delivery companies.  
Continue Reading The California Supreme Court Makes It More Difficult to Classify Workers as Independent Contractors – Assumes all Workers are Employees

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) have long required large employers with 50 or more employees to provide unpaid job-protected parental leave for employees to bond with a new child. Effective January 1, 2018, the New Parent Leave Act (NPLA) extends similar parental leave requirements to California employers with 20 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

The NPLA adds section 12945.6 to the Government Code, requiring these mid-size employers to provide up to 12 workweeks of unpaid job-protected leave for employees to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.  As with the FMLA and CFRA, employees must have worked for the company at least 12 months, and at least 1,250 hours during the preceding 12 months, to qualify for NPLA leave.
Continue Reading Protected Leave For New Parents Now Applies to Mid-Size Employers in California