Arbitration Agreements In California Continue to Come and Go.

Many of our clients ask me about the value of “Arbitration Agreements with class action clause attached to it as it pertains to California Labor Laws. These agreements are a lot like the ocean sometimes the tide is in and sometimes the tide rolls out to sea.  When the tide is in, then this agreement can be a very good thing for employers but when the tide rolls out to sea they can be very bad.

One of the most popular forms of a binding arbitration agreement is one that comes with or include a class actions waiver.  Not only does this stop the employee from taking the employer to court but it also prevents employees from joining together for the purpose of forming a class action lawsuit.

Recent Arbitration Case In California

Recently California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that binding arbitration contracts along with class action waivers are non-enforceable.  A lawsuit that was filed by Stephen Morris along with other employees of Ernest & Young.  All of the employees involved claimed that they had been misclassified as exempt employees, which made them exempt from overtime pay.

As is the case for any company that has an arbitration agreement each employee must sign this agreement before they can begin their tenor with the company.  

The first case that the employees brought to the courts was dismissed by the Northern District of California because Ernst & Young moved to compel arbitration.  The employees appealed the lower court’s decision, arguing that the agreements were unenforceable since these agreements violated the National Labor Relations Act.

Two of the three judges agreed with the appeal and as a result, the lower court’s decision was overturned.

To summarize the Achilles heel, in this case, was not the arbitration agreement but the class action waiver.  If this company had just simply established the agreement without the additional class action clause they would probably have won their case and been able to protect their rights adequately protected their rights.

The Division of Worker’s Compensation Has Recently Launched An Online Education Module Helping Physicians Treat Injured Workers More Effectively

This free online course for doctors who are treating injured California workers is now available. The goal of this free online education is to provide a more efficient standardized form of treatment that will result in both better treatment of injuries and a faster than normal return to work.

The model can be found on the Department of Workers Compensation Website, and will very soon be available on your mobile device.  Doctor’s and Chiropractors and nurses who choose to take the free online course will receive one hour of free CME credit.

A Dollar Value For Accrued Vacation Does Not Need Be Included on Wage Statements

Every once in a while employer even in California get good news concerning California Labor Laws and Cal-OSHA Standards.  Below is a list of the nine items that must appear on each paystub of your employee.

  1. Total amount of wages earned;
  2. Total hours worked by a non-exempt employee
  3. All payroll deductions withheld;
  4. Net amount of wages earned;
  5. Dates of the current pay period
  6. The name of the employee and the last four digits of his/her social security number or an employee identification number;
  7. The employer’s legal name and address;
  8. All hourly rates that were in effect during the pay period along with the corresponding number of hours worked at each hourly rate; and
  9. The number of piece-rate units earned, regardless of time worked, if the employee is being compensated by piece rate

Failing to adhere to these pay stub law can expose an employer to fines and potential lawsuits.  Many labor law attorneys are well aware of this law, and they are also aware that most employers are not in compliance with all of the nine items that must be included on the pay stub.

Motel 6, for example, was taken to court on the basis that the employer was in violation because they did not include the monetary value of the employees accrued wages.  The plaintiff argued that since vacation time is considered wages that any accrued wages should be listed as wages on the employees pay stub.  

The first court rejected this claim but that was not to be the end of the matter.  Feeling strong that there was a claim here or a more accurate of a way of saying there was an excellent opportunity to get some free money the plaintiff decided to appeal the loss and roll the dice one more time.

The appeal was also rejected thus making it a good day for employers all over the state of California.  Even though this case ended as it should have employers need to take note that had the employer in question complied with the state laws, there could have been a much different result.

California Labor Laws are more complex than ever before. While this climate remains in California, I encourage every employer to get a good labor law consultant.  Just as an FYI Cal-OSHA feels that all employers should also have a Cal-OSHA Consultant for the purpose of helping employers to get and stay in compliance.