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“Rowdy” Roddy Piper famously said: “Just when they think they have the answers, I change the questions.”

California employers can relate to this feeling of uncertainty, given a recent trend of California appellate decisions that have upended established legal “answers” regarding certain employment law issues. Following last year’s decision by the California Supreme Court in Dynamex to adopt a new “ABC test” to determine employment status under the Wage Order, and the Court of Appeal’s decision in AMN Healthcare that cast doubt 33 on years of established authority regarding non-solicitation of employee provisions, the Court of Appeal in Ward v. Tilly’s, Inc. recently adopted a new standard for reporting time pay. Because disputes over reporting time pay may lead to putative class action claims, this decision is particularly important for California employers.

California is one of a few states requiring employers to pay a certain minimum amount to nonexempt employees as “reporting time” (also referred to as “show-up pay”) if the employee reports to work but does not actually work the expected number of hours. Specifically, each of California’s Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders requires employers to pay employees “reporting time pay” for each workday “an employee is required to report for work and does report, but is not put to work or is furnished less than half said employee’s usual or scheduled day’s work.”

In Ward v. Tilly’s, a divided Court of Appeal has expanded the “reporting time” obligation to situations where employees are required to contact their employer two hours before on-call shifts—even though they never actually physically report to work.


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Co-authored by Mike Leggieri (Employment & Compensation Partner, SF) and Steven Chasin (Litigation Associate, DC)

To paraphrase Pharaoh Ramses II, so it is written, so it shall be done.

In Schein, Inc. v. Archer and White Sales, Inc., 586 U.S. __ (January 8, 2019), the first opinion by Justice Kavanaugh, a unanimous Supreme Court reiterated this principle of the Federal Arbitration Act. Specifically, the Court confirmed that when an arbitration agreement delegates to an arbitrator the question of whether the agreement applies to a particular dispute, courts have no power to decide this question, even if a court considers the arbitrability argument to be “wholly groundless.”


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As we previously discussed here, the United States Supreme Court’s May 2018 decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis was a clear win for employers that seek to avoid the expense and disruption of class litigation by resolving disputes individually through binding arbitration. As explained by the Supreme Court in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, “[i]n bilateral arbitration, parties forego the procedural rigor and appellate review of the courts in order to realize the benefits of private dispute resolution: lower costs, greater efficiency and speed, and the ability to choose expert adjudicators to resolve specialized disputes.”

For employers looking to take advantage of the benefits of individual arbitration, there are several drafting nuances to consider before rolling out or updating existing arbitration agreements.


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California courts mostly take a no prisoners approach to Business and Professions Code section 16600, the statute prohibiting illegal restraints on trade. Courts broadly interpret Section 16600, which states that “every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void,” to invalidate most post-employment non-competes and customer non-solicits, including covenants preventing former employees or their new employers from “hiring” employees of a former employer (so-called “no hire agreements”). But Section 16600 does not bar all post-employment covenants–just those that “restrain” trade.


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In August, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee) upheld an arbitration agreement that required individual arbitration of claims under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Court’s decision is in line with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis.

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Last week, in Troester v. Starbucks Corporation (Case No. S234969), the California Supreme Court weighed in for the first time on the viability of a de minimis defense to California wage and hour claims.

Many commentators have since rushed to declare that “de minimis” is dead. Not so.


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