California Supreme Court: Paying Meal and Rest Period Penalty Based on Employee’s Base Hourly Rate Is Not Enough

On July 15, 2021, the California Supreme Court ruled that an employee’s “regular rate of compensation” for the purposes of meal and rest break penalties includes all nondiscretionary payments, not just hourly wages. This decision will have significant impact on all employers in California because (1) going forward, employers cannot simply pay the employee’s base hourly rate for meal and rest break violations, and (2) this decision is retroactive.

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Ninth Circuit Decision Provides Potential Defense Strategy for Employers Facing PAGA Suits

In Magadia v. Wal-Mart Associates, Inc., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals tossed a $100 million-plus judgment against Walmart and held that employees lack standing to bring a claim under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) for labor code violations that they themselves did not suffer. Among other highlights, the federal appeals court found that California’s wage-statement law does not require employers to list a corresponding hourly rate when making a lump sum overtime adjustment payment. The decision provides helpful precedent for businesses litigating wage-and-hour class and representative actions, as well as employers with similar bonus schemes to Walmart.

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Summary of Revisions to Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

UPDATE: Cal/OSHA Withdraws June 3, 2021 revised ETS. In a special meeting held on the evening of June 9, 2021, the Cal/OSHA Board met to consider the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and California Department of Public Health regarding masking. The Board voted unanimously to withdraw the revisions to Cal/OSHA’s revised ETS that they had voted to approve on June 3, 2021, and that were set to go into effect on June 15, 2021 (pending approval from the Office of Administrative Law).  In a press release, Cal/OSHA stated that it will review the new mask guidance, bring any recommended revisions to the Board and that the Board could consider new revisions at a future meeting, perhaps as early as the regular meeting on June 17, 2021. In the meantime, the Cal/OSHA’s ETS adopted in November of 2020 will continue to remain in effect. Faegre Drinker will continue to monitor and provide insights with respect to Cal/OSHA’s revised ETS as well as other COVID-19-related topics. Insights will be updated on the firm’s COVID-19 Resource Center.

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Another Lawsuit Challenging Employer COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates

Faegre Drinker previously reported on one of the first lawsuits challenging a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. As employers continue to evaluate employee vaccination, another lawsuit has been filed in the Central District of California, California educators for Medical Freedom et al v. The Los Angeles Unified School District et al., 21-cv-02388 (C.D. Cal. filed 3/17/2021).

The California Educators for Medical Freedom, along with seven employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District, are seeking injunctive relief and potential damages due to a vaccine mandate instituted in March of 2021. Plaintiffs were allegedly told that if they were not vaccinated by April of 2021, they could face a “job detriment, up to and including termination from employment.”

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Summary of New California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave – What Employers Need to Know

On March 19, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 95, which extends and expands employer requirements to provide supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) to employees impacted by COVID-19. SB 95 goes into effect on March 29, 2021, (i.e., 10 days after being signed by Gov. Newsom) and adds sections 248.2 and 248.3 to the California Labor Code.

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Can California Employers Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine?

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has updated its COVID-19 FAQs and has issued its long-awaited guidance regarding employers mandating COVID-19 vaccines.

As a preliminary matter, the DFEH explained that it is not providing guidance on whether or to what extent an employer should mandate vaccination within its workforce. Rather, the DFEH stated that its guidance/FAQs are to address how employers comply with the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) if employers require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with an FDA-approved vaccine.

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