News & Analysis

$3.7 million compensatory damages award to Rite Aid store manager upheld

In 2015, a Los Angeles jury awarded $8.7 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a store manager at Rite Aid Corporation. The award consisted of more than $3.7 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. Rite Aid appealed, with partial success.

CA leads the way on transgender issues, nonbinary gender designation

Three bills addressing gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation were recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown. The bills, which have various effective dates, are detailed below.

County can't SLAPP away social worker's retaliation claim

SLAPP is an acronym for "strategic lawsuit against public participation." California has a special procedure, referred to as the anti-SLAPP statute, that authorizes a trial court to strike a cause of action arising from a person's exercise of her constitutional rights to free speech or to petition for redress of grievances. The statute was enacted to discourage lawsuits brought primarily to chill, or dissuade, the valid exercise of those constitutional rights. Employers sometimes try to use the anti-SLAPP process in an attempt to get courts to dismiss First Amendment cases brought by employees. As the employer in the following case found out, however, it's the rare employment case in which this procedure can be used successfully.

Creative attempt to obtain consent to arbitration of a PAGA claim is flatly rejected

Under California law, predispute agreements that require employees, as a condition of employment, to relinquish the right to assert a representative action under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) are unenforceable. On the other hand, postdispute agreements to arbitrate PAGA claims may be enforceable because at that point, an employee is represented by counsel and can weigh the pros and cons of proceeding in an arbitration forum rather than court. So what is the boundary between a "predispute" agreement and a "postdispute" agreement with respect to waivers of the right to assert a PAGA claim in court?

9th Circuit rejects DOL's interpretation of 'tip-credit' reg

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal law that imposes minimum wage and overtime compensation requirements, permits employers to take a credit for minimum wage purposes for a portion of the tips received by employees who are engaged in an occupation in which they "customarily and regularly receive" tips totaling more than $30 a month.

NLRB didn't have to use new standard for deferring to arbitration awards

What happens when a union-represented employee claims she was discharged because of her protected activities (such as being a zealous shop steward) and the company contends she was discharged for safety infractions and insubordination? What happens if the dispute is resolved in the company's favor by an arbitration award under the parties' collective bargaining agreement but the employee also files an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)? Should the NLRB decide the case on the merits or "defer" to the arbitration decision and dismiss the charge?

More employers can claim contraception exemption under new rules

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced recently that it was expanding the circumstances in which an employer can offer a group health plan that doesn't cover contraception. The action was taken in response to an Executive Order from President Donald Trump asking the agency to amend the contraception coverage regulations to promote religious liberty. New exemptions allow a wider range of employers to opt out of providing coverage for some or all types of contraception if they can demonstrate a religious or moral objection to doing so.

Bah hug-bum! Be alert for sexual harassment at the holiday party

Every December we are asked about the do's and don'ts of holiday parties. You've read our general responses in articles like "6 tips for minimizing holiday party liability" (on pg. 1 of our December 7, 2015, issue). But the close of 2017 arrives with some special cautions. The whole world is watching the drama of workplace harassment, and the office holiday party might be the Super Bowl—often boring, but the one event in which almost everybody takes part. So here are some special points to keep in mind this year.

Slippery situation: No workers' comp benefits for parking lot fall

The Arkansas Court of Appeals recently upheld a decision from the Workers' Compensation Commission that an employee who injured her knee after falling in her employer's parking lot wasn't entitled to benefits because she wasn't performing employment services at the time of the injury.

Mr. Independent: Jury verdict that worker is an independent contractor stands

The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Arkansas employers) recently upheld an Arkansas district court decision adopting a jury's conclusion that a process server was an independent contractor—not an employee—and was therefore not entitled to payment of overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).