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Category Archives: Court Decisions

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Did You Know…Depression Does Not Automatically Qualify An Employee For FMLA Leave

Posted in Court Decisions, Disability Discrimination, Discrimination, Leave Laws

In recent years, employers have been bombarded by increasing numbers of lawsuits by employees with mental disabilities alleging discrimination and retaliation.  These lawsuits are based on a variety of theories including alleging being denied federal and/or state protected medical leave.  In a small blow to this growing trend, however, the Eleventh Circuit recently vacated a… Continue Reading

Did You Know…The Continuing Saga of Arbitration Agreements & Unconscionability

Posted in Court Decisions

In light of the United States Supreme Court decision in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, the California Supreme Court recently reversed its own prior decision where it had held that an arbitration agreement that requires an employee to waive the right to a hearing [Berman hearing] before the state labor commissioner is contrary to public… Continue Reading

Did You Know…Public Employees’ Facebook “Like” is the Internet Equivalent of a Political Yard Sign

Posted in Court Decisions, Privacy, Social Media

The courts are taking steps to protect communications made via social media; e.g., Ehling v. Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corp., No. 2:11-cv-03305 (D.N.J. Aug 20, 2013) (holding that private Facebook posts are protected under the Stored Communications Act). Likewise, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that “liking”  something on Facebook is a form of… Continue Reading

Did You Know…Ninth Circuit Holds No Aggregation of PAGA Penalties to Establish Federal Diversity Jurisdiction

Posted in Class Actions, Court Decisions, Litigation, Wage and Hour

In Urbino v. Orkin Servs. of California Inc., a divided Ninth Circuit held that civil penalties recoverable by individual employees under California’s Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”) cannot be aggregated to meet the $75,000 amount in controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction. A wage-and-hour representative PAGA action brought originally in California state court, Urbino was removed… Continue Reading

Did You Know…U.S. Supreme Court Narrowly Defines “Supervisor” For Purposes of Title VII Employer Liability

Posted in Court Decisions, Harassment

In Vance v. Ball State University, No.11-556, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ball State, making it harder for employees to sue employers for harassment under Title VII.     The Court adopted a narrow definition of “supervisor” for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII, holding that an employee is a “supervisor” only if… Continue Reading

Did You Know…U.S. Supreme Court Strengthens Class Action Waivers in AmEx Ruling

Posted in Class Actions, Court Decisions

In another employer-friendly decision, the U.S. Supreme Court reinforced its support for class action waivers, ruling in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant that an explicit class action waiver in an arbitration agreement cannot be invalidated simply because the plaintiff’s cost of individually arbitrating a claim exceeds the potential recovery. Justice Scalia, writing for… Continue Reading

Did You Know… The Supreme Court’s DOMA Ruling Opening Federal Benefits to Same-Sex Couples Requires Employers to Update Employee Benefits Policies

Posted in Court Decisions

The Supreme Court’s ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage as a legal union only between one man and one woman is unconstitutional requires employers to treat same-sex couples who are legally married the same as married opposite-sex couples under federal law. In prohibiting federal law from distinguishing between same-sex couples and… Continue Reading

Did You Know…Class Certification Denied in Wang v. Chinese Daily News

Posted in Class Actions, Court Decisions, Wage and Hour

In Wang v. Chinese Daily News, the Ninth Circuit reversed the class certification it had previously affirmed and remanded the matter for further consideration of Rule 23(a) commonality and Rule 23(b)(3) predominance.  Notably, the Ninth Circuit applied the 2011 United States Supreme Court decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart and held that Wal-Mart‘s  prohibition on “trial by… Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Clarifies Standard for “Mixed Motive” Defense to Employment Discrimination Claims

Posted in Court Decisions, Discrimination

In a partial victory for employers, the California Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. City of Santa Monica that even when an employee proves that a discriminatory motive was a “substantial factor” in an adverse employment decision, the employee is not entitled to damages, reinstatement, or backpay, if the employer can show that the same… Continue Reading

Did You Know…Class Action for Meal and Rest Break Violations Defeated – Legally Compliant Policies Are Key

Posted in Court Decisions, Wage and Hour

In Flores v. Lamps Plus, Inc., the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s denial of plaintiff’s motion for class certification based on Lamps Plus’s alleged failure to ensure that employees took their meal and rest breaks.   Relying on Brinker, the Court  held that  “the employer is not obligated to police meal breaks and ensure… Continue Reading

Did You Know…Wage and Hour Class Actions Can Be Converted into Individual Arbitrations Which Can Significantly Reduce an Employer’s Exposure

Posted in Class Actions, Court Decisions, Wage and Hour

Employers who have arbitration agreements may be able to convert putative wage and hour class actions into individual arbitrations, reducing their potential exposure from millions (or hundreds of millions) to thousands of dollars.  In 2010, the Supreme Court held in Stolt–Nielsen S.A. v. Animal Feeds Int’l Corp. that if the parties to an arbitration agreement… Continue Reading

Did You Know…Prevailing Parties in Meal or Rest Break Actions Are Not Entitled to Attorney Fees

Posted in Court Decisions, Wage and Hour

On the heels of Brinker, the California Supreme Court ruled on April 30, 2012, in Kirby v. Immoos Fire Protection, Inc., that parties prevailing on a claim that Labor Code section 226.7 was violated are not entitled to attorney’s fees.  Section 226.7, subdivision (a) prohibits employers from requiring employees to work during Industrial Welfare Commission (Wage… Continue Reading

Did You Know…Government Code § 996.4 Trumps Labor Code § 2802

Posted in Court Decisions

In Thornton vs. California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (PDF), Thornton contended that she was statutorily entitled to reimbursement from the California Unemployment Insurance Board (“Board”) for the attorneys’ fees and other expenses she incurred in connection with the District Attorney’s and the Attorney General’s investigations of the circumstances of her hiring as an Administrative Law Judge… Continue Reading

Did You Know…The California Supreme Court Has Clarified Meal and Rest Period Obligations

Posted in Class Actions, Court Decisions, Wage and Hour

The California Supreme Court finally issued its long-awaited decision in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court.  In a unanimous opinion, the Court held employers (1) need only provide meal and rest periods, not ensure nor police that they are taken, (2) are not required to provide a meal period every five hours (no rolling meal… Continue Reading