9th Circuit Says Forum Selection and Choice of Law in Employment Agreement Violate California Law

On March 14, 2022, the 9th Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California’s decision in DePuy Synthes Sales, Inc. v. Howmedica Osteonics Corp. and Stryker Corp., that invalidated the New Jersey forum selection clause in the employment contract of Stryker’s former sales associate as a matter of California law and denied Stryker’s motion to transfer the litigation to New Jersey. Though forum selection clauses are generally enforceable under federal law, the 9th Circuit reasoned that deference must be given to state law in determining the validity of a forum selection clause before considering whether the clause is enforceable under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

The case involved a former Stryker medical device sales associate, Jonathan Waber, who was employed by Stryker in California and who signed an employment contract with Stryker without legal representation. The agreement included non-competition and non-solicitation provisions, and also included forum-selection and choice-of-law clauses requiring adjudication of contract disputes in New Jersey. After less than one year of employment with Stryker, Waber left Stryker to work for one of its competitors, DePuy. After receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Stryker, DePuy and Waber preemptively filed a declaratory judgment action in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Stryker and its subsidiary, Howmedica.

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Employer Beware: New California Employment Laws for 2022

*Originally published by CalCPA in the January/February 2022 issue of California CPA.

To borrow from both the Grateful Dead and Miley Cyrus, “… what a long, strange trip it’s been …” and “there’s always gonna be another mountain … ain’t about what’s on the other side, it’s the climb.” Among the lasting 2021 impacts of politics, aberrant weather and wildfires—and COVID-19— is increased regulation of California employers. More than 330 bills introduced in the most recent California legislative session mention “employer,” compared to about 560 bills in 2020. While most bills did not pass the Legislature, many were signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, bringing more rules and risks for employers in our state dealing with COVID-19, workplace safety, wage and hour rules, worker classification, working conditions, leaves of absence, posters, Department of Fair Employment and Housing matters, settlements and nondisparagement agreements, and wage rates.

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EEOC Issues New COVID-19 Guidance Addressing Vaccinations in the Workplace

Today, after much anticipation and just in time for the Memorial Day holiday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released updated guidance on COVID-19 vaccination issues raised under federal equal employment laws. We outline five things you need to know about the new guidance.

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Employer Beware: New California Employment Laws for 2021

Among the lasting 2020 impacts of fires, politics and COVID-19, is increased regulation of California employers. More than 563 bills introduced in the last California legislative session mention “employer,” compared to about 300 bills in 2019. While most bills stalled in the Legislature, many were signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, bringing more rules and risks for employers in our state, dealing with workplace safety; sick leave; workers’ compensation; diversity and discrimination; worker classification and wages; privacy; employee leaves; and settlements.

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Ixchel Pharma, LLC v. Biogen, Inc.: Opening the Door to Non-Compete Agreements Between Businesses in California

In a recent decision, Ixchel Pharma, LLC v. Biogen, Inc.,[1] the Supreme Court of California opened the door for some restrictive covenants between commercial enterprises, but it left alone California law generally prohibiting post-employment restrictive covenants with employees.
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Labor Law Update: Your Labor of Love

*Originally published by CalCPA in the January/February 2020 issue of California CPA.

More than 300 bills introduced in the 2019 California Legislative session mention “employer,” compared to 589 bills in 2018. While most bills bogged down or died in the Legislature, many of the bills—which likely would have been vetoed by former Gov. Jerry Brown—were signed into law by first-term Gov. Gavin Newsom, ushering in a new wave of more regulation of employers in the Golden State.

The following are essential elements of many key state Assembly Bills (AB) and Senate Bills (SB) that became law Jan. 1 (unless otherwise noted) and affect private employers.

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