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California Supreme Court: the federal de minimis rule does not apply in California wage cases

May employers ask workers to perform brief, minor tasks while off the clock? This is the central question of Troester v. Starbucks, in which a former Starbucks shift supervisor alleged that the company did not properly compensate him for work he was regularly required to perform after clocking out, including transmitting data to corporate offices, activating the store alarm, turning of lights and locking up, walking other workers to their cars or waiting with them for their rides, and occasionally putting away patio furniture that had been left outside. Starbucks argued that the time spent on remaining closing tasks was too negligible to require tracking and compensation.

A federal district court calculated that the shift supervisor's unpaid labor over 17 months added up to just under 13 hours, worth about $103 under the minimum wage at the time. The court then applied the de minimis doctrine (from de minimis non curat lex, "the law does not concern itself with trifles") in finding in favor of Starbucks. The doctrine has been used by federal courts in other cases involving very small amounts of off-the-clock labor under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

New law clarifies key terms in salary history inquiry ban

As many California employers are aware, state law now prevents employers from asking job applicants about their salary history or from using salary history to make decisions regarding job offers or starting salaries. As we discussed in a previous post, this new law, which went into effect on January 1, also requires that employers provide pay scale information to applicants upon reasonable request.

This law did not, however, clearly define the key terms involved in this requirement, namely "applicant," "pay scale" and "reasonable request." Assembly Bill 2282, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on July 18, clarifies what these terms mean in the context of the new requirements:

More employer responsibilities regarding national origin (part 3)

Today, we wrap up our conversation about new California regulations to keep employees and job applicants safe from national-origin discrimination. Having just taken effect on July 1, these rules describe how California employers can meet their related responsibilities.

We previously talked about the definition of "national origin" and explained what the rules say about national-origin discrimination related to language. Now, we discuss remaining subjects under the new amendments.

New California rules on national-origin discrimination (part 2)

Today we continue our discussion about extensive amendments to California national-origin employment discrimination regulations that took effect on July 1, 2018. Duggan Law Corporation will be educating our employer clients about their legal responsibilities toward job applicants and employees under these new rules.

As we discussed in our previous post on this subject, harassment and discrimination based on an employee's national origin has long been unlawful under state and federal laws. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing's new regulations that took effect July 1, however, expand and clarify for employers important aspects of this category of illegal discrimination and harassment of job applicants and employees.

Duggan Law attorneys named to 2018 Northern California Super Lawyers lists

Duggan Law Corporation is proud to announce that four of our attorneys have been selected for inclusion in 2018 Super Lawyers lists. The Super Lawyers rating service recognizes outstanding lawyers who have achieved a high level of both professional achievement and peer recognition.

Founding partner Jennifer Duggan and partner Laura McHugh have been selected for inclusion in the 2018 Northern California Super Lawyers list. No more than 5 percent of all attorneys in Northern California are selected to receive this distinction. Jennifer Duggan has been selected to the Super Lawyers list every year since 2012. Laura McHugh was previously recognized by Lawyers of Distinction in 2017 and 2018 as among the top 10 percent of labor and employment lawyers in the country.

California national-origin rules go into effect July 1

California employers must become aware of sweeping new state anti-discrimination regulations taking effect on Sunday, July 1, 2018. While discrimination or harassment based on national origin as a protected class has long been illegal under state law, the new rules provide employers with more detailed direction about what constitutes national-origin discrimination.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the state agency that issued the rules and will enforce them. DFEH conducted an extensive notice-and-comment period during which the public had the opportunity to provide input. In response, the agency made some changes to the original proposal.

A new age-discrimination theory may bring concerns for employers

A large proposed class-action lawsuit called Bradley v. T-Mobile filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco raises a legal argument that advertising for employees on Facebook may involve illegal employment discrimination based on age.

The Communications Workers of America, a large union, filed the suit in December and amended it at the end of May to include additional defendants and to add claims that California's employment discrimination laws and unfair competition laws are being violated. Broadly, the allegation is that placing an employment ad on Facebook that filters those who can view the ad by age and leaves out older ages from the ad request (such as people in their 50s and 60s) results in unlawful disparate treatment based on age.

San Francisco city attorney seeks Uber and Lyft hiring records

Legal news topics we recently reported on in two separate posts have come together in a third matter potentially significant to some Northern California employers. Specifically, on May 29, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued a news release announcing he issued subpoenas to transportation providers Lyft and Uber for personnel records.

We previously blogged about Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, a California Supreme Court case in which the court adopted a new, more restrictive test to determine whether a worker is an employee covered by wage and hour, workers' compensation and other similar laws, or an independent contractor not protected by such laws.

EEOC settles sexual harassment and retaliation suit against Goodwill

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued a press release announcing an $850,000 settlement in a sexual harassment and retaliation suit against Goodwill Industries of the East Bay Area and an affiliated employer.

The money will be paid to eight employees, some of whom have developmental disabilities. Six were janitors who alleged regular sexual harassment by their supervisor. Two were managers who alleged employer retaliation for supporting the women's complaints.

Pre-employment wages may not be used to justify paying women less than men: Ninth Circuit decides major Fresno case under the federal Equal Pay Act

All California employers have a legal responsibility to pay wages and salaries in nondiscriminatory fashion. We recently published a post about a new California law that took effect on January 1, 2018, that forbids employers from asking new hires - either orally or in writing - about their past salary levels or wage amounts.

Under the new law, an employer not only may not ask about past salary, but also may not use a past salary level as the basis of a hiring decision or a new starting wage. The idea behind the law is that because a past salary level could have been based on illegal discrimination such as because of gender, using that past salary to make future employment decisions at a new employer would just perpetuate the discriminatory gap in pay from one job to the next. San Francisco also prohibits this practice by city ordinance.

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