California Supreme Court

Background:

Under California law, employers must provide non-exempt employees with one 30-minute meal period that begins no later than the end of the fifth hour of work and another 30-minute meal period that begins no later than the end of the tenth hour of work.  Cal. Lab. Code § 512; IWC Wage Order No. 4-2001,

Gig Economy Workers Gain Security, But at What Cost?
by Scott Rodd, Stateline

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It started with installing some red and green LED lights. Then came the disco balls, neon eyeglasses and a gold Bluetooth karaoke microphone.

Daniel Flannery had transformed the car he drives for Uber and Lyft into a party on wheels.

“You put everything together, and it encourages people to loosen up,” he said. “Sometimes, I have people call me up and say, ‘We don’t want to go anywhere — we just want to drive around and sing.’”

Flannery, who drives to supplement his retirement income, said he loves the freedom that comes with it — setting his own schedule and adding his own flair to what he dubs his “Swag Rides.”
Continue Reading In the News: Lukas Clary in Stateline Article on the Unfolding Impacts of Dynamex Decision

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

The United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Hollingsworth v. Perry, 570 U.S. ___ (2013) , this morning, regarding the validity of Proposition 8. The outcome is that same-sex marriage is once again legal in California. The Supreme Court did not rule on a specific right to same-sex marriage, but rather it stated that neither it nor the federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (which includes California) had the power to hear the case. Hollingsworth is largely a procedural case, and it requires some background to fully understand.

In 2008, the California Supreme Court held that the California Constitution’s equal protection clause prohibited limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. Shortly thereafter, California voters passed Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples. The Respondents in Hollingsworth, two same-sex couples, filed suit against various California state and local officials in federal District Court asserting that Proposition 8 was invalid under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. California state officials declined to defend Proposition 8, and the District Court allowed the Proponents (the parties who put Proposition 8 on the ballot) to defend it. The District Court then declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional, and state officials declined to appeal. The Proponents then appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit ultimately held that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, and the Proponents appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Even though the Ninth Circuit found Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional, it put a “stay” in place, meaning that same-sex marriages were put on hold while the appeal to the Supreme Court was pending.

Continue Reading Marriage Equality Returns to California

By:   Chelcey E. Lieber

The California Supreme Court recently granted review of Richey v. Autonation, Inc., a Court of Appeal case that vacated an arbitration award in favor of the employer. The Court rejected the employer’s argument that it had an “honest belief” that an employee was misusing his CFRA/FMLA leave, and this honest belief justified the employee’s discharge. We previously discussed the Richey case here https://www.thelelawblog.com/2012/11/articles/labor-law/the-continuing-danger-of-terminating-employees-on-leave-an-honest-belief-that-leave-is-being-misused-is-not-always-enough-richey-v-autonation-inc/ on our blog.


Continue Reading California Supreme Court Grants Review of CFRA/FMLA Case Richey v. Autonation, Inc.