Class & Collective Actions

This fall, California voters will have the opportunity to decide the fate of the state’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). After receiving more than the 700,000 signatures in support, the “California Employee Civil Action Law and PAGA Repeal Initiative” has qualified for the November 5, 2024 state ballot. If the initiative passes, PAGA will be repealed and replaced with the “Fair Pay and Employer Accountability Act,” which will double the statutory and civil penalties for willful state labor law violations, require 100% of monetary penalties be awarded to employees, and provide resources to employers to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws. The new law will preclude plaintiffs’ attorneys from recovering any fees in actions brought under the statute and impose other requirements to effectively “de-deputize” citizen attorneys general.

What Would the New Law Do?

In response to wide ranging criticism of PAGA, the ballot initiative seeks to repeal and replace PAGA with the Fair Pay and Employer Accountability Act. If passed, the initiative would:

  • Double statutory and civil penalties for willful violations;
  • Award 100% of monetary penalties to employees (instead of the current 25%);
  • Provide resources to employers to ensure labor compliance and allow employers opportunities to cure violations without penalties;
  • Require that the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) be a party to all labor complaints;
  • Prohibit award of attorneys’ fees (which are currently permitted under PAGA); and
  • Require that the state legislature fully fund the DLSE to meet the division’s requirements by law.

Continue Reading Is the End in Sight for PAGA Actions? Californians May Vote “YES” on November 5, 2024.

The Department of Labor’s “new” rule for classifying workers as employees or independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act took effect March 11, 2024. The DOL’s Final Rule returns employers to a familiar pre-Trump administration totality of the circumstances test that focuses on the “economic realities” of the worker’s situation. The practical impact is that it is now harder for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors, and it will likely increase federal wage and hour claims.

There are mounting legal challenges to the Final Rule contesting the DOL’s rulemaking authority. However, to date, none of the suits have been successful at blocking implementation of the Final Rule. So, for now, it stands.

Practice pointer: different legal tests for different laws

Employers new to the US are often baffled to learn that no single test exists to evaluate independent contractor status for all purposes. This means compliance is complicated since different tests may apply depending on the context. And yes, this also means that it’s feasible for a worker to be an independent contractor for some purposes and an employee for others (such as under state and federal law, for example). Continue reading for a summary of the key tests that come up most often for US multinationals.Continue Reading New DOL Rule Makes it Harder to Classify Workers as Independent Contractors (Plus a Quick Recap of the Key Misclassification Standards Across the US)

Special thanks to Celeste Ang and Stephen Ratcliffe.

We launched the seventh annual edition of The Year Ahead: Global Disputes Forecast, a research-based thought leadership surveying 600 senior legal and risk leaders from large organizations around the world and highlights key issues we anticipate to be crucial for disputes for this year.

We are pleased to share a recent SHRM article, “EEOC General Counsel: Anti-Discrimination Damages Caps Are Too Low,” with insights from our own JT Charron. Million-dollar jury verdicts in equal employment opportunity cases sometimes mask large cuts in final judgment due to federal caps on compensatory and punitive damages. Karla Gilbride, the EEOC’s general

Combining the views of 600 senior in-house lawyers at multinational companies across four continents with the insights of Baker McKenzie experts in tax, employment and antitrust, the 7th Edition of our Global Disputes Forecast helps in-house counsel see around corners as they prepare for 2024. The forecast includes detailed predictions for disputes involving ESG, cybersecurity

Illinois employers, do you utilize any workforce monitoring or security measures, such as time clocks, that involve individuals’: 

  • Fingerprints
  • Retina or iris scans
  • Scans of hand or face geometry
  • Voiceprints
  • Biometric information (information based on the above that is used by the company to identify an individual)

If so, read ahead because the Illinois Supreme Court just decided that doing so, without strict compliance with the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), could be a multi-billion dollar mistake.

In Cothron v. White Castle System, Inc. (issued February 17, 2023), the Court held that a separate BIPA claim accrues each time a private entity scans or transmits an individual’s biometric identifier or information in violation of section 15(b) or 15(d) of BIPA–not just the first time. Employers subject to BIPA now have no margin of error, because noncompliance with sections 15(b) or 15(d) of BIPA could mean cost-prohibitive–even ruinous–damages for the company.Continue Reading BIPA Liability in the Billions? Illinois Employers Beware: Claims Accrue with EACH Separate Scan or Transmission

California employers may soon need to rethink and revise their time-rounding policies–even if they’re neutral. In Camp v. Home Depot, USA, the California Supreme Court is set to weigh in on whether, under California law, employers may use neutral time-rounding practices to calculate employees’ work time for purposes of paying wages. A decision limiting or prohibiting the practice could require major changes to common timekeeping practices for payroll purposes, so employers–especially those engaging in time rounding–will want to keep a close eye on developments.

Here’s what’s happened so far, and what employers should do now.Continue Reading Is Time Rounding Over for California Employers? The California Supreme Court Will Weigh In

California’s latest attempt to restrict employment arbitration was foiled by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last Wednesday. On February 15, 2023, a three-judge panel decided that AB 51 (which prohibits employers from “forcing” job applicants or employees to enter into pre-dispute employment arbitration agreements covering certain discrimination and retaliation claims) is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). In doing so, the Ninth Circuit reversed its prior decision in the same case, issued by the same three-judge panel, which partially upheld AB 51 in 2021. While we expect the California Attorney General to challenge the Ninth Circuit’s February 15 decision, California employers can breathe a sigh of relief for now knowing it’s still lawful for most to continue to require arbitration agreements.Continue Reading California Employers Still Can Require Arbitration. For Now.

In 2023, uncertainty is the new certainty, with the economic cycle replacing Covid-19 as the main driver of instability. Experience, along with the insights we’ve gathered from more than 600 senior lawyers at large corporations across the globe, point to an anticipated rise in employment disputes. Organizations should proactively identify risk and involve dispute practitioners

The U.S. Supreme Court just handed employers a huge win in the continuing war over California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), a bounty-hunter statute that deputizes employees to sue on behalf of the state. In yesterday’s Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, decision, the Supreme Court held that employers may compel employees to arbitrate