In brief

The California Supreme Court recently established new law on two important topics for meal period compliance and litigation. Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC (2021) San Diego Superior Court, Case No. S253677 (February 25, 2021). First, the Court held that California employers cannot round time punches for meal periods. Second, the Court held that time records showing noncompliant meal periods raise a rebuttable presumption of meal period violations. The Donohue Court also implicitly approved a method for employers to use to determine whether meal period premiums should be paid for missed, short or late meal periods.


Continue Reading California Rejects Meal Period Rounding

The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) recently updated its “Guide to COVID-19 Related Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]” to include wage and hour issues arising out of employer-mandated COVID-19 tests or vaccinations.

On March 4, 2021, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) confirmed that an employer does not violate the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) by requiring employees to receive an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine so long as the employer does not discriminate against or harass employees or job applicants on the basis of protected characteristics, provides reasonable accommodations related to disability or sincerely-held religious beliefs or practices, and does not retaliate against employees who engage in protected activity, such as requesting an accommodation. While this guidance arguably protects employers against FEHA claims, employers should not take the DFEH’s guidance as permission to mandate vaccines in other contexts, and it is not yet clear whether employers can safely mandate vaccines approved only under Emergency Use Authorizations by the Food and Drug Administration.

If employers can legally mandate vaccines, the question becomes whether employers must pay for the time spent being vaccinated. Now, the DIR has weighed in on employer obligations to pay for tests and vaccines when mandated by the employer.

For ease of reference, the FAQ is copied here.

    1. Is my employer required to compensate me for the time spent obtaining a COVID-19 test or vaccination?

If the employer requires an employee to obtain a COVID-19 test or vaccination (see Department of Fair Employment and Housing FAQs for guidance on the types of COVID-19 tests an employer may require and on vaccination), then the employer must pay for the time it takes for the testing or vaccination, including travel time.


Continue Reading California Requires Employers to Compensate Employees for Time Spent Obtaining a COVID-19 Test or Vaccination

As previously covered, California reinstated and expanded COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave last week. For more on the law’s requirements, click here.

The new law requires employers to give employees notice of the leave benefit:

  • The California Labor Commissioner has issued a model poster available here and FAQs are available here.
  • The poster

Last Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 95 into law, providing California employees with up to two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) for COVID-19 absences, including paid time off for vaccination. The new law reinstates and expands the prior California supplemental paid sick leave law that expired on December 31, 2020

Government agencies are increasingly setting their sights on larger targets, ramping up enforcement efforts to root out systemic discrimination. This has important ramifications for employers who may suddenly find themselves defending a claim that, for all intents and purposes, feels like a class action, even though it started as an individual agency charge. With advancements in technology, large data sets on workforces are more common than ever, and government agencies are taking advantage of this and will not hesitate to request data on classes of individuals to search for trends indicating potential discrimination.

EEOC Intensifies Campaign against Systemic Discrimination

In her first public speech since being named as Chair of the EEOC, Charlotte Burrows pledged that the federal government’s workplace civil rights agency will emphasize enforcement of laws to combat systemic discrimination. This commitment to addressing systemic discrimination is consistent with President Biden’s plans to combat racism. (In January, Biden signed an executive order creating a government-wide “racial equity review” and underscoring enforcement of anti-discrimination laws. Read more here.)


Continue Reading Government Agencies Eye Larger Targets: How Employers Can Navigate the Increase in Systemic Litigation

With special thanks to Lothar Determann for this post.

The California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (CPRA) introduces sweeping changes to the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), which already imposes an obligation on California employers to issue privacy notices to employees since January 1, 2020. These notices must be updated as

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) closed this most recent legislative season by signing dozens of new bills into law that affect California employers. Though some were emergency bills and took effect upon signing, the remainder take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

The laws are wide-ranging, encompassing topics from pandemic-related measures, to the first board of

It’s hard to miss the uptick in litigation against high profile US companies over alleged unequal pay for female employees these days. Cases seem to hit the headlines frequently and several targeted industries include professional sports, professional services organizations, and technology companies. With equal pay protections constantly expanding, and employees often seeking class certification, in 2021, employers should be especially diligent in identifying and rectifying unjustified pay disparities.

So, if you need a New Year’s Resolution, consider undertaking a pay equity audit. This will position your company to determine, at baseline, whether any unjustified pay disparities exist, where those disparities lie and proactively take any remedial measures to help mitigate against becoming a headline. In conducting a pay equity audit, employers should pay close attention to the legal backdrop of pay equity, and how that landscape is changing.

As we head into the New Year, here are several US developments companies ought to know:

California Enacts First Employee Data Reporting Law

On September  30, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 973, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson’s bill relating to annual reporting of employee pay data. SB 973 requires private employers with 100 or more employees to report employee pay data to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) by March 31, 2021, and annually thereafter, for specified job categories by gender, race and ethnicity. California will be the first state to require employers to submit such employee data.


Continue Reading US Pay Equity and Transparency Developments: What You Need to Know Going Into 2021

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) signed into law in March is set to expire December 31, 2020. The law requires covered employers with less than 500 employees to provide US-based employees with paid sick leave (up to 80 hours) and paid family care leave (up to 10 weeks) for COVID-19-related purposes. To help

After the fastest reported increase in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic- with new infections doubling in the past 10 days-California Governor Newsom “sound[ed] the alarm,” announcing on November 16 that 40 counties are moving in the wrong direction under the state’s reopening plan. Twenty-eight counties moved into the state’s most restrictive purple tier under California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, signifying that the coronavirus is “widespread.” Now, 41 of the state’s 58 counties are purple, a stark contrast from only 13 purple tier counties last week.

Several Bay Area and Southern California counties are affected:

  • Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Napa and Solano counties are reverting to the purple tier, while San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties are stepping back into the second-most restrictive red tier (indicating “substantial” virus spread).
  • Orange and Ventura counties-which improved to red in September and October, respectively-are retreating to purple, joining Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Bernardino counties in the purple tier.

California employers and employees are already feeling the effects. Purple status severely limits indoor activity, including:

  • Restricting capacity at retail establishments and malls (open indoors at 25% capacity);
  • Moving fitness centers, family entertainment, and movie theaters to outdoor only;
  • Limiting restaurants and wineries to limited outdoor-only service;
  • Closing bars and breweries;
  • Requiring schools to remain online only; and
  • Requiring non-essential offices to work remotely.

With 94% of the state’s population now in the purple tier, talk of curfews, and restrictions being one step away from the stay-at-home orders that swept the US in March, the scaled back reopening undoubtedly will have devastating economic impacts on businesses and their employees.


Continue Reading California “Sounds the Alarm,” Stepping Back into Purple and Issuing a Travel Advisory