California Employees Win $15 Million Settlement in Seating Case

In the largest settlement of its kind, on October 28, 2016, a California Superior Court approved a $15 million settlement in a lawsuit called Garrett v. Bank of America, which alleged that California bank tellers should have been provided seats while they performed their jobs. The lawsuit was brought under the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), which allows an employee to sue his or her employer to recover civil penalties under the California Labor Code. The settlement
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California Supreme Court Rules that Employees Are Entitled to Seats

On April 4, 2016, the California Supreme Court issued a decision that will benefit many workers in California. The case is called Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy Inc. In Kilby, for the first time, the court interpreted Section 14(a) of the California wage orders, which states: “All working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.” Although the seating requirement has existed in California since the early 1900’s, many employers
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The Perils of the Gig Economy

As the economy recovers from the Great Recession of 2008, many permanent jobs have been replaced by temporary independent contractor positions, called “gigs.” The gig economy has been a boon to employers, because unlike employees, independent contractors don’t receive health insurance, vacation pay, overtime pay, or retirement benefits. In addition, many laws that protect employees, such as the wrongful termination and minimum wage laws, do not apply to independent contractors. However, federal and state authorities are now taking a closer
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Home and Mobile Offices: What’s the Law?

Improvements in technology have given employees more freedom than ever before. Employees are now able to work at home, in their car, or at the gym. But this freedom comes with a cost: work encroaches on personal and family time, and expensive laptops and smartphones are now indispensable. Many employees do not know that their employer must pay them for all the time they spend working, even if that work is performed outside the office. So, for example, if you
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What Should Be in a Paystub?

Each time you are paid, your employer must give you a paystub that clearly explains your gross wages, your rates of pay, your hours worked (unless you are exempt and paid by salary), all deductions, your net wages earned, the period for which you are being paid, and the name and address of your employer. Many California employers don’t include this basic information in their paystubs. If your employer gives you a deficient paystub, you may be entitled to up
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California employees have the right to challenge an employer’s illegal employment policies and employment contracts.

California has some of the strongest employee protection laws in the nation. California law prevents discrimination in employment, ensures fair pay for all workers, and protects employees who exercise their legal rights. Nevertheless, California employers sometimes try to evade the law by inserting illegal provisions into their employment contracts and employee handbooks. Here are some examples of provisions that may violate California law: Non-compete clauses: These clauses prevent or discourage employees from accepting a job with the employer’s competitor. Confidentiality
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Employees are not required to arbitrate claims brought under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act.

Encouraged by rulings by the conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, employers have been trying to limit the rights of California employees to bring their claims in court. A large percentage of employers in California now require their employees to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of employment. Under these agreements, the employees waive their right to bring a claim in court and instead must pursue their claims through private arbitration. Private arbitration is generally less favorable for employees
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Court rules that employers must reimburse employees who use their personal cell phones for work.

In Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc. (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 1137, the California Court of Appeal ruled that employers are legally required to reimburse employees for cell phone charges if the employees use their personal cell phones for work. Under California Labor Code section 2802, an employer is required to indemnify its employees for all reasonable and necessary expenses the employees incur in the course of their jobs. Before Cochran, no appellate court had directly applied Section 2802 to cell
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