California Becomes Third State To Ban Employers From Requesting Employee Social Media Passwords

by Sayema Hameed

On September 27, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law A.B. 1844 and S.B. 1349, two bills which protect the privacy of employee and student social media, respectively.  On the enactment of these two bills, Governor Brown said:

The Golden State is pioneering the social media revolution and these laws will protect all Californians from unwarranted invasions of their personal social media accounts.

S.B. 1349, entitled “Social media privacy: postsecondary education” (codified at Education Code Sections 99120-99122), prohibits public and private higher educational institutions from requiring a student, prospective student, or student group to disclose personal social media usernames, passwords, or content.  The new law also prohibits the educational institutions from suspending, expelling, disciplining, or threatening to take any of those actions, for refusing to comply with such a demand.  California is the second state to pass a law protecting the social media information of students, following Delaware.

A.B. 1844, entitled “Employer Use of Social Media” and codified at Labor Code Section 980, prohibits employers from requiring an employee or job applicant to disclose his or her social media username or password.  This new law also prohibits an employer from “shoulder surfing,” i.e. requiring an employee or job applicant to access a personal social media account in the employer’s presence.

The new law also prohibits an employer from discharging, disciplining, threatening or otherwise retaliating against an employee or job applicant for not complying with the employer’s demand. The law does permit an employer to obtain passwords or other information needed to access employer-issued electronic devices.

Touchstone Television Productions v. Superior Court: Touchstone’s Decision Not To Renew Nicollette Sheridan’s Employment Contract Does Not Give Rise To Wrongful Termination

by Sayema Hameed

Does an employee have a legal cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy if an employer decides not to exercise an option to renew the employee’s contract?  The answer, according to a new California Court of Appeal opinion, is no, an employee whose employment contract is not renewed does not have a wrongful termination claim.

This case involves a famous employee, actress Nicollette Sheridan of Desperate Housewives fame.  The case is Touchstone Television Productions v. Superior Court (Nicollette Sheridan) (Second District, Div. Four, Case No. B241137; filed 8/16/12).

Fahlen v. Sutter Central Valley Hospitals: Doctor Who Loses Hospital Privileges Does Not Have To Exhaust Judicial Remedies Before Filing Lawsuit Under Whistleblower Law

by Sayema Hameed

Is a doctor who claims that he lost his hospital privileges in retaliation for being a whistleblower required to “exhaust his judicial remedies” by pursuing judicial review of the hospital’s decision before he can file a separate whistleblower lawsuit under California Health and Safety Code Section 1278.5?

In a new case,  Fahlen v. Sutter Central Valley Hospitals (Fifth District, Case No. F063023; filed 8/14/12), the California Court of Appeal has answered this question: No, the doctor does not have to exhaust judicial remedies through writ proceedings first.  The doctor can directly bring a lawsuit against the hospital for whistleblower retaliation.

Sparks v. Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services: Court Refuses To Enforce Arbitration Clause Contained In Employee Handbook

by Sayema Hameed

If an employer includes an arbitration clause in a written employee handbook, provides the handbook to an employee, and obtains a written acknowledgment of receipt of the handbook from the employee, is that enough to enable the employer to compel arbitration of the employee’s wrongful termination claims?  In a recent case, the California Court of Appeal has said “NO.”

Robles v. Employment Development Department: Employee’s Attempt To Use Shoe Allowance For Friend Does Not Disqualify Him From Unemployment Benefits

by Sayema Hameed

In California, a terminated employee will be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if the employee is found to have engaged in “misconduct” connected with his or her most recent work.  (Cal. Unemp. Ins. Code Section 1256.)

In a new case, Robles v. Employment Development Department (First District, Div. Four, Case No. A132773; filed 7/16/12), the Court of Appeal analyzed whether a terminated employee committed job-related misconduct when he attempted to use his safety shoe allowance (provided by the employer) to purchase shoes for his friend.  The answer: No, he did not engage in job-related misconduct and, therefore, he is not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.

Sayema Hameed Joins Board Of South Asian Network

Cabada & Hameed LLP is pleased to announce that partner Sayema Hameed has joined the Board of Directors of the non-profit organization South Asian Network (SAN).

Formed by community activists in 1990, SAN is a community-based organization dedicated to advancing the health, empowerment and solidarity of persons of South Asian origin in Southern California.  Through its organizing and advocacy work, SAN has successfully transcended nationality, religion, language, gender and class to create a multilingual, holistic and culturally competent approach to community outreach, education, direct service and policy advocacy.

The NLRB Report On Employer Social Media Policies: What’s Unlawful and What Works

by Sayema Hameed

Employee use of social media is a big topic these days.  It is increasingly common to hear news of an employee getting fired for posting unfavorable comments about his or her employer on Facebook and other social media websites.  As a result, in August 2011 and January 2012, the Acting General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board Acting (“NLRB”) issued reports analyzing cases of employee termination due to social media use.

On May 30, 2012, the NLRB issued a third report on social media.  This report focuses exclusively on employer social media policies and provides specific examples of what is lawful and unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).

Hoover v. American Income Life Insurance Company: California Court Rules That Labor Code Wage Claims Are Not Subject To Arbitration

by Sayema Hameed

In the “fluid and volatile” world of employee arbitration agreements, the California Court of Appeal has issued yet another opinion.  In the wage-and-hour case Hoover v. American Income Life Insurance Company (Fourth District, Div. Tow, Case No. E052864, filed 5/16/12, pub. ordered 6/13/12), the Court ruled that the plaintiff’s statutory wage claims under the California Labor Code and Business and Professions Code were not subject to arbitration.  In addition, the defendant’s 15-month delay in seeking arbitration constituted a waiver of the right to compel arbitration.

Sayema Hameed Is Named A 2012 Southern California Rising Star by Super Lawyers

Pasadena, CA – Cabada & Hameed LLP is pleased to announce that partner Sayema Hameed has been selected as a Rising Star in the 2012 Southern California Rising Stars edition of Super LawyersSuper Lawyers is an attorney rating service that honors outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.