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 If the initiative passes, PAGA will be repealed and replaced with the “Fair Pay and Employer Accountability Act,” which will double the statutory and civil penalties for willful state labor law violations,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.

Last week, a unanimous US Supreme Court held that an employee need only show “some harm” from a change in the terms and conditions of employment, rather than a “significant” employment disadvantage, to assert a claim for discrimination under Title VII. The decision resolves a circuit split over the showing required for discrimination claims based on changes less drastic than demotions, terminations, or pay reductions, and underscores the continued importance of taking a thoughtful approach to any change in the terms and conditions of an employee’s employment.Continue Reading Less is More: SCOTUS Shifts Title VII Threshold to “Some” Harm (Though Plaintiffs Must Still Show Discriminatory Intent)

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

Tracking and complying with federal, state, and local wage and hour requirements has long been top of mind for employer as wage and hour liability continues to be one of the most expense employment law risks. Indeed, in 2022, the 10 largest reported settlements for wage and hour actions totaled $574 million.

Currently, in

Baker McKenzie is pleased to invite you to an afternoon exploring strategy and risk in the year of the dragon.

Alongside industry leaders from Meta and Dayforce, this will be an interactive discussion exploring how businesses can harness the power and auspiciousness of the mythical dragon in building a comprehensive data, AI and cyber

Special thanks to co-presenters Nandu Machiraju and William Rowe.

Where the sellers or shareholders in a corporate transaction are individuals (especially where they may continue on as employees of the buyer), noncompetes are a valuable tool in a deal lawyer’s toolbox. However, there is a clear trend of increasing hostility to the use of

In this 75-minute “quick hits” style session, our team reviewed the challenges we helped California employers overcome in 2023 and the key legislative changes coming in 2024.

Among other topics, we discussed:

  • Best
  • While the US Supreme Court’s June 27 decision striking down race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina does not directly apply to private employers, the decision will reverberate and impact corporate ID&E programs as a practical matter.

    The Decision Ends Systematic Consideration of Race in the Admissions Process

    Striking down the affirmative action programs at Harvard and UNC, the Court ruled that both programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In so doing, the Court effectively overturned the 2003 ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, in which it said race could be considered as a factor in the admissions process because universities had a compelling interest in maintaining diverse campuses.

    In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas called the programs “rudderless, race-based preferences designed to ensure a particular racial mix in the entering classes.” Both policies “fly in the face of our colorblind Constitution and our nation’s equality ideal,” he added.

    In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the Court’s first Black female justice, said: “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”Continue Reading ID&E in the Workplace After the Supreme Court Guts Affirmative Action in Higher Education