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California amends lactation law effective January 1, 2019

California employers should be aware of a change in our state's lactation accommodation law as of January 1. Previously, an employer could satisfy the requirement for a private room for breastfeeding mothers to express milk so long as the room was not a "toilet stall."

To prevent employers from using bathroom areas outside of stalls as designated areas to express breast milk, the legislature amended the law in AB 1976 to say the location must be one "other than a bathroom."

Court says store must pay workers for unworked on-call shifts

Our state is known for its wide-reaching employee protections. A recent Court of Appeal case illustrates this in the context of a department store that required retail employees to call in two hours before possible on-call shifts to see if they had to report in person.

In the February 4 decision Ward v. Tilly's, Inc., Tilly's assigned its employees on-call shifts, but required them to call in two hours before their scheduled on-call shift to see whether they should actually come in to work. If they were told to come in, they were paid for their shifts; if not, they did not receive any compensation for having been "on-call."

California court allows rounding software for meal-break tracking

In a case widely lauded as pro-employer, the California Court of Appeal in the Fourth District recently agreed with the trial court that a health staffing company's use of time-rounding software to track its employees' required meal breaks was fair and neutral and allowed under state law.

Respondeat superior in California courts (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this post, we introduced the December 2018 case of Moreno v. Visser Ranch, Inc., in which a California appellate court addressed issues of employer liability for losses or injuries caused by an employee when he or she was acting within the scope of employment; specifically, in that case, the employer had allowed an employee to use its company vehicle for business and personal reasons and the employee got into an accident leaving his passenger son inured. The son sued, among other parties, his father's employer, who owned and insured the vehicle he was in when the accident happened.

The driver, Mr. Moreno, was allowed to operate the company truck for around-the-clock use during both work and personal time.

California employer liable for employee driving company vehicle while using vehicle for personal use (Part 1)

A recent California court decision raises important issues for employers who allow their employee to use company vehicles for personal reasons. In Moreno v. Visser Ranch, Inc., an employer allowed its employee to use a truck it owned and insured for both business and personal travel. Employee Ray Moreno was required to be on call 24/7 to respond immediately to cell phone calls and maintenance needed at all times at the ranches, farms and dairies operated by the employer.

Mr. Moreno was driving this truck with his passenger son when the truck was involved in a single-vehicle, rollover mishap. They were returning from a family gathering to their home on the employer's premises, where the son was headed to work there.

Study shows older-worker job losses more damaging than thought

At our law firm, we advise California employers on how to comply with state and federal laws against age discrimination. Last summer, we posted in this space about a class-action lawsuit alleging that social-media advertising for job openings that only display in the feeds of workers under a certain age are discriminatory based on age. Those in the employment law field are still waiting for this decision to understand its implications.

Today, we will discuss a new study of the circumstances surrounding older-employee job loss. The Urban Institute and ProPublica concluded from their analysis of data from the Health and Retirement Study or HRS that over 50 percent of older employees are "pushed out" earlier than they would have otherwise chosen to leave their positions.

California employers need to keep detailed payroll records

There are many legal and practical reasons for California employers to keep accurate, careful records of hours worked and wages paid. For example, federal and state tax and other deductions must be correctly calculated. California law also requires employers to include detailed payroll calculations on pay stubs.

A recent California Court of Appeal case out of the First Appellate District underscores the need for employers to keep accurate records of hours each employee works, especially overtime hours. In Furry v. East Bay Publishing, LLC, a sales and marketing director sued his former newspaper employer for unpaid overtime, among other things.

California noncompete-clause ban now has narrow exception

California law is serious about protecting employees within its borders. To that end, Labor Code section 925, which became effective in 2017, explicitly provides that an employer, as a condition of employment, may not force employees who primarily work and reside in California to agree to resolve legal disputes arising out of their employment in California, in courts of a different state. The statute also provides that an employer may not deprive an employee of a "substantive protection" of state law in any dispute arising here.

One of the state's strong employee protections is its ban on the covenant not to compete or noncompetition clause, which is an employment contract term prohibiting an employee from working for a competitor for a set time period after leaving. 

Study looks at nuances of gender pay gap

The Institute for Women's Policy Research published a fascinating study in November 2018 that revealed that the gap between the pay women and men receive is more serious than traditional data has shown. Using a sophisticated, multi-year analysis that considered periods of time when people were out of the labor market or worked part-time, the authors concluded that instead of the usual figure cited based on government data that women earn 80 cents on the dollar as compared with men, 49 cents on the dollar is more accurate.

You can view the entire study in detail here.

An introduction to wrongful discharge of California employees

At our law firm, we provide advice to a wide variety of Northern California private and public employers about the employee-employer relationship, including under what circumstances it may be illegal under state or federal law to fire someone. It is wise for employers to have some basic understanding of the laws related to wrongful termination as employer-employee relationships begin and evolve.

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