Choice of Law & State Venue Provisions Now Restricted in California Employment Agreements

On September 25, 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown approved a new law allowing California employees to unilaterally void forum selection or choice of law clauses (not the entire agreement) in employment contracts. S.B. 1241 regulates where and under what law California employees can sue and arbitrate. The new law will take effect on January 1, 2017.contract-1464917_1920

Impact of SB 1241

Most agreements allow contracting parties to select a forum to litigate or arbitrate a dispute. Under S.B. 1241, employers are prohibited from requiring, as a condition of employment, an employee who primarily resides and works in California to agree to any contractual provisions that will: 1) require the employee to litigate or arbitrate claims arising in California in a foreign forum (outside of California); and 2) deprive the employee of the protection of California employment laws. The new law also includes, but is not limited to, executive contracts, covenants, and non-compete agreements.

An employee must be represented by legal counsel when negotiating an out-of-state venue, forum, or choice of law term. If a forum selection or choice of law provision is included in an employment agreement, the reviewing court can enjoin reliance on the provision, declare it unlawful, and award reasonable attorney fees.

S.B. 1241 will be codified as Section 925 of California Labor Code. Employers should review any employment or arbitration agreements to make sure they are in compliance with the new law. Employee contracts may need to be revised. Contact our law office for more information about modifying your existing employment agreements.

Nosal-Tabor v. Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center: Wrongful Termination & Workplace Retaliation

As a healthcare employer, you are required to ensure you properly implement policies and procedures that are in accordance with the Nursing Practice Act (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 2700 et seq.). In particular, the NPA allows nurses to perform certain functions designated as the “practice of medicine” so long as they are prescribed pursuant to a hospital’s standardized procedures (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 2725 subd. (c).).

The Board of Registered Nursing and the Medical Board of California provide guidelines that govern the content of such procedures, and hospitals must operate in accordance with these guidelines. The standardized procedures must contain specific elements and are required to be adopted by the organization prior to being implemented. If a hospital’s policies and procedures are not clearly defined and exercised as required, this can result in nurses engaging in the illegal practice of medicine.

This particular issue was addressed in Nosal-Tabor v. Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center1.  In Nosal-Tabor, the California Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. The California Court of Appeals ruled that a jury could find in favor of the plaintiff nurse, Karen Nosal-Tabor, for wrongful termination and workplace retaliation. Read on to learn more about the case and how to protect your organized health care system from being sued.

California Labor Commissioner Issues First Opinion On California’s Paid Sick Leave Law

The California Labor Commissioner has issued its first opinion on California’s new paid sick leave law.  The opinion clarifies how many hours of paid sick leave an employee is entitled to receive under the “lump sum” method of providing sick leave at the beginning of a calendar year or 12-month period.

EEOC Ruling: Title VII Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination

In a recent decision, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that discrimination by employers against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  

Title VII governs employment discrimination claims against public and private employers. Under Title VII, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee on the basis of her race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. While Title VII does not explicitly prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the EEOC’s new ruling clarifies that Title VII indeed prohibits such discrimination.

Employee or Independent Contractor: The U.S. Department of Labor Weighs In

The U.S. Department of Labor recently released a memo regarding the appropriate classification of employees and independent contractors. The classification of employees has become an important topic as growing businesses such as Uber and Lyft rely heavily on the use of independent contractors, a classification increasingly challenged by workers in court. Read on to learn the factors used to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

California Professional Sports Cheerleaders Are Now Classified As Employees

Cheerleaders for professional sports teams have been entertaining fans for decades. Most professional cheerleaders have been classified as independent contractors, leaving them with little to no employee rights under federal and state laws. On July 15, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill, Assembly Bill 202, requiring California professional sports teams to classify their cheerleaders as employees. California is the first state in the nation to pass legislation providing employment protection to professional cheerleaders.  California’s professional cheerleaders are now eligible for minimum wage, overtime, sick days, and other labor law protections under the new bill. Read on to learn more.

California’s New Paid Sick Leave Law  

Under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (Assembly Bill 1522), over 6.5 million Californians are now eligible to take paid sick leave. This is great news for California residents who work in industries such as retail, food and beverage, and tourism. This new law requires all employers, both public and private, to offer employees at least 3 paid sick days per year. Read on to learn more about this new law and how it applies to California employers and employees.

The Supreme Court’s Ruling on Abercrombie’s Religious Discrimination Case

The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled 8-1 in a recent decision against popular retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (Abercrombie) in a discrimination case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of a Muslim teenager. The case stemmed from the company rejecting 17-year-old Samantha Elauf’s job application after she wore a headscarf to her interview.

Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC: Franchisor Not Liable As An “Employer” For Sexual Harassment By Franchisee Employee

by Sayema Hameed

Is a franchisor liable for the wrongful acts of a franchisee employee?  The short answer is, “It depends.”  The longer answer involves an analysis of whether the franchisor demonstrates the characteristics of an “employer” under California law.

In a recent case, Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC (Cal. Sup. Ct. Case No. S204543, filed August 28, 2014), the California Supreme Court held that a franchisor, Domino’s Pizza, LLC, did not satisfy the criteria to be deemed an “employer” and was, therefore, not vicariously liable for alleged sexual harassment by a franchisee employee (a male supervisor) against another franchisee employee (a female subordinate employee).

Specifically, the franchisor here was not involved in the day-to-day decisions involving hiring, supervision, and discipline of the employees, and nothing in the franchise agreement contractually required or allowed the franchisor to make or control such employment decisions.