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Today California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a landmark bill making it more difficult for companies to engage independent contractors. (See our previous coverage HERE.) Assembly Bill 5 “will help reduce worker misclassification — workers being wrongly classified as ‘independent contractors’ rather than employees, which erodes basic worker protections like the minimum wage, paid sick days and health insurance benefits,” Newsom wrote in a statement.

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As previously detailed here, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 Epic Systems decision established that requiring employees to waive their right to pursue collective or class actions does not violate the National Labor Relations Act’s “catchall” protection—the right to engage in “concerted activity”—and courts must enforce arbitration agreements as written.

The Supreme Court not only confirmed the legality of class action waivers under the Federal Arbitration Act, but it also narrowly construed the NLRA’s catchall provision as focused on the right to organize unions and bargain collectively in the workplace.

The Court’s holding that the right to engage in such “concerted activities” does not guarantee collective or class action procedures underpins a recent NLRB decision concerning issues of first impression: imposing and requiring as a condition for continued employment a new class action waiver rule in response to collective action.


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As detailed in prior posts, in January, the Illinois Supreme Court held that a plaintiff need not plead an actual injury beyond a per se statutory violation to state a claim for statutory liquidated damages or injunctive relief under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). While recent decisions applying BIPA have been largely Illinois-based, the Ninth Circuit recently applied BIPA in Patel v. Facebook to affirm a lower court’s ruling that plaintiffs in the ongoing Facebook BIPA class action alleged a concrete injury-in-fact to confer Article III standing and that the class was properly certified.

The Ninth Circuit is the first federal circuit court to conclude that a plaintiff alleging a BIPA violation has standing for purposes of Article III of the US Constitution. The ruling makes it easier for plaintiffs to certify BIPA class actions, within and outside of Illinois. 
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On July 22, 2019, a three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit withdrew its holding that Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court—the landmark California Supreme Court decision that makes it harder for companies to rely on independent contractors—applies retroactively. The panel held instead that the question should be decided by the state’s highest court.

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On July 10, 2019, the California Senate Labor Committee voted in favor of Assembly Bill (AB 5). As we previously reported (see HERE), AB 5 would make it harder for companies to rely on independent contractors because it presumes a worker is an employee unless a hiring entity passes a difficult three-part test. Supporters

Hiring Entity:  When are gig workers employees?

Four Government Agencies & Courts:  It depends!

Trying to track the employment status of gig workers will make your head spin. Contractors? Employees? Super heroes?

In the last few weeks, four federal and California state agencies and courts — the US Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the California Labor Commissioner — have all weighed in on the debate. And, the answer is — it depends.

Follow our script below to help make sense of the patchy legal landscape.


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In last Thursday’s Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising, the Ninth Circuit made several impactful findings related to the infamous Dynamex decision:

  1. Aligning with several state court decisions supporting retroactivity, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Dynamex’s ABC test applies retroactively.
  2. It also applied Dynamex to a multi-level franchise structure, expanding the test beyond the independent contractor context.
  3. Last, the Court issued guidance to the district court on remand reaffirming the difficulty of “passing” the ABC test.


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On April 10, the EEOC released its charge filing statistics for Fiscal Year 2018, which ran from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018. These annually disclosed statistics reveal continued trends in the employment litigation space and provide an opportunity for employers to ensure their policies and practices address issues arising in the ever-changing modern workplace.

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Until death do you rule, and not a single day after.

In Rizo v. Yovino, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a ruling interpreting the Equal Pay Act by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals because the Ninth Circuit improperly counted the vote of Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who died 11 days before the ruling was announced.


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In the wake of the #MeToo movement, a number of states (and New York City) now mandate workplace sexual harassment prevention training.

The chart below is intended to help multi-state employers keep track of their obligations across the country.


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