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.

Does Your Business Pay Commissions To Employees In California? Get Ready To Put It In Writing!

by Sayema Hameed

Employers who pay commissions to employees in California must comply with the new California law, AB 1396.  Recently signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, AB 1396 amends California Labor Code Section 2751 to require all employers who pay commissions to employees to enter into written commission contracts with those employees.  Employers must comply with this law by January 1, 2013.

The written commission contract must explain the method by which commissions are computed and paid.    In addition, employers must also give a copy of the signed contract to each employee and obtain a signed receipt for the contract from each employee.

Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC: California Court Applies Concepcion To Uphold Class Action Waiver In Employee Arbitration Agreement

by Sayema Hameed

In the ever changing legal landscape of employee arbitration agreements, there has been a lot of tension between federal law and California law concerning the enforcement of such agreements.

California case law previously prohibited class action waivers in arbitration agreements when included in consumer contracts of adhesion (known as the “Discover Bank Rule” from Discover Bank v. Superior Court (Boehr) (2005) 36 Cal. 4th 148, 153). Then in April 2011, the United States Supreme Court decided AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion (2011) ___ U.S. ___ [131 S.Ct. 1740] (“Concepcion“), holding that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts the Discover Bank Rule and upholding the enforceability of class action waivers in arbitration agreements.

But even after Concepcion, the question remained whether another California Supreme Court case, Gentry v. Superior Court (2007) 42 Cal. 4th 443 (“Gentry“), survived Concepcion. Gentry specifically concerned class action waivers of unwaivable statutory rights (Labor Code claims including overtime) in employee arbitration agreements. Gentry held that a class action waiver in an employee arbitration agreement should not be enforced if “class arbitration would be a significantly more effective way of vindicating the rights of affected employees than individual arbitration.”  Because the U.S. Supreme Court in Concepcion did not specifically address Gentry , there was a question whether Gentry still applied to the analysis of class action waivers in employee arbitration agreements in California.

Now the California Court of Appeal has answered the question as follows: “Now, we find that the Concepcion decision conclusively invalidates the Gentry test.”  In a new decision, Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC (Second District, Div. Two, Case No. B235158; filed 6/4/12), the Court of Appeal has found that Concepcion invalidates Gentry and that a class action waiver in an employee arbitration agreement is enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act.