On June 10, 2019, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that state law does not apply to the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in situations when federal law addresses the relevant issue at hand.

In Parker Drilling Management Services, Ltd. v. Newton, the Supreme Court declined to extend California’s wage and hour laws to employees working on offshore drilling platforms subject to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

The OCSLA extends federal law to the subsoil and seabed of the outer continental shelf and to all structures permanently or temporarily attached to the seabed for the purpose of developing, producing or exploring for oil. Under the OCSLA, the laws of an adjacent state only apply to the OCS to the extent “they are applicable and not inconsistent with” federal law.

Here, the US Supreme Court ruled that because the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) addressed the relevant issues, the adjacent state law was inapplicable.


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Last Wednesday, the US Supreme Court issued yet another pro-employer arbitration decision.

In a 5-4 split, the Supreme Court held in Lamps Plus Inc. v. Varela that a party cannot be compelled to submit to a class arbitration (as opposed to the arbitration of individual claims) unless the arbitration agreement explicitly authorizes class proceedings in arbitration.

In doing so, the Supreme Court reiterated two key aspects of its Federal Arbitration Act jurisprudence:

  1. Arbitration is a matter of consent, not coercion; and
  2. Class arbitration is fundamentally different than the traditional individualized arbitration envisioned by the FAA.

Because, according to the majority opinion, class arbitration so fundamentally changes the nature of arbitration, a party can only be forced to litigate class claims in arbitration under the FAA if there is a contractual basis for concluding that the party agreed.


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On April 1, the US Department of Labor proposed a new rule seeking to narrow the application of joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). A finding of joint employer status can impose joint and several liability on a business along with the hiring employer for the employee’s wages. By narrowing the test, the proposal brings potential good news to franchise businesses in particular.

The proposal outlines a “four-factor balancing test” for the Department to apply collectively in its assessment of whether a business is a joint employer with another.


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Our Employment & Compensation practice is pleased to bring you the 2019 version of The Global Employer: Focus on US Business Immigration.

Whether you need information about a specific US visa type, or are looking for a high-level overview of employer obligations related to the movement of foreign nationals under US immigration and employment 

“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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On January 25, 2019, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a highly anticipated decision, Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corporate et al., extending the reach of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). BIPA is an Illinois privacy law that regulates the collection, use, and retention of biometric data such as fingerprints, face, and eye scans by imposing procedural requirements on corporations that collect the data. Though not an employment case, the decision impacts employers using biometric time-keeping systems in Illinois.

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Explosive growth in emerging markets has created a significant demand for companies to move workers around the globe to explore and seize new opportunities. At the same time, there has been an equally significant demand for companies to reduce their mobility costs. As a result, traditional employees are now more likely to be sent on short trips to fill specific business or customer needs, and project-based assignments are often more likely to be filled by a modern workforce that includes a variety of nonemployees.

A large majority of companies have seen an increase in these new types of assignments. Nevertheless, many still do not have formal guidelines for managing frequent crossborder travelers, and they admittedly fall short of properly educating their managers and mobile workers on the potential risks of these arrangements. Consequently, many vulnerabilities and misconceptions persist. Additionally, the growing prevalence of accidental expats has led to heightened scrutiny, incentivizing governments to crack down on business travelers and, with the assistance of technology, to become more adept at catching transgressions.


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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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To help multi-state employers determine the minimum amount they must pay non-exempt employees, our chart below summarizes state and local increases this year. (Unless otherwise indicated, the following increases are effective January 1, 2019.)

This chart is intended to discuss rate changes that affect employers generally, and may not necessarily cover all industry-specific rate changes.


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(Thank you to our Baker McKenzie colleagues in Mexico for sharing this alert.)

As a result of a change in government leadership and recently signed laws and treaties, companies in Mexico now have an important “to do” for 2019: prepare to review any unions that are “on the books” and assess compliance in this new environment.

What are “White Unions”?

  • White Unions in Mexico are usually employer-friendly unions that — due to current legislation deficiencies — can effectively bar entry of other unions who might otherwise attempt to gain a foothold in the workplace. They have little to no actual membership and do not actively represent workers. Historically, any union could petition for unionization without the need to prove the support of workers.

What changed?


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