Articles Posted in Posts for Employees

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which includes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, is a new law passed by the federal government in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The law provides paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to employees impacted by COVID-19.

When does the law start?

The FFCRA’s paid leave provisions are effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

The Federal Government has passed urgent legislation in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in order to ease the financial impact on families impacted by the disease. The following are important laws that every employee should know about should they become infected by COVID-19.

Paid Sick Time Laws

California has been at the forefront of sick time laws. Currently, California law requires that employers provide 24 hours (or 3 days) of paid sick leave per year for full-time employees, which can be used beginning on the 90th day of employment.

COVID-19 (Cornoavirus) has shaken the U.S. and World economies. Many businesses are shutting down to stop the spread. This has raised important some important employment law issues. Here are a few frequently asked questions.

What is the best practice for employers regarding COVID-19?

The Department of Industrial Relations has made the following recommendations for employers

As expected, the legal battles over AB5 (California’s Independent Contractor Law) have begun.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association have filed a lawsuit challenging AB-5 on constitutional grounds (First and Fourteenth Amendment), as the law only allows 35 submissions per year for the same publication without becoming an employee.

In November 2018, the California Trucking Association is challenging AB5 on the basis that it runs afoul of federal law which prohibits states from enforcing any law related to the price, route, or service of a motor carrier.

Employment law is constantly evolving. Every year, the state of California passes new labor laws that impact the employment relationship. The following are some of the most prominent changes that will take effect on January 1, 2020.

AB 5: Independent Contractors

AB 5 codifies California Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, making it more difficult to treat workers are independent contractors. The passage of this bill has been discussed in depth in a previous blog article.

In the 1940’s, a soap company in Chicago hired a small crew of firefighters to live on the premises and be available for emergencies. The crew officially worked a nine-hour shift but were also required to sleep in a designated location and respond alarms, if necessary. A legal dispute arose about whether the “on call” time should have been compensated as hours worked. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it did, with Justice Robert Jackson stating:

“Of course an employer, if he chooses, may hire a man to do nothing, or to do nothing but wait for something to happen. Refraining from other activity often is a factor of instant readiness to serve, and idleness plays a part in all employments in a stand-by capacity. Readiness to serve may be hired, quite as much as service itself, and time spent lying in wait for threats to the safety of the employer’s property may be treated by the parties as a benefit to the employer.” Armour & Co. v. Wantock (1944) 323 U.S. 126, 133.

The Supreme Court’s ruling opened the door for a litany of subsequent cases on the issue of “on call pay.” In the days of modern cellphone technology, the issue has become even more complex. After all, with a cellphone in every pocket, a beckoning call from an employer is just seconds away.

In 1973, the NCAA enacted a rule prohibiting student athlete drug use. Unfortunately, there was no standardized drug test to enforce the rule. At the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, several college student athletes tested positive for prohibited drugs, causing great embarrassment for the NCAA and raising questions about competitive fairness. How was the alleged “drug ban” being enforced?

The NCAA needed a solution, which, unfortunately, would invade the privacy of student athletes. In 1986, the NCAA adopted a mandatory drug testing program. Among other things, the drug testing policy required student athletes (1) to disclose medications they may be using and other information about their physical and medical conditions; (2) to urinate in the presence of a monitor; and (3) to provide a urine sample that reveals chemical and other substances in their bodies.

In 1990, a linebacker on the Stanford football team and the co-captain of the Stanford women’s soccer team sued the NCAA, alleging that the drug testing requirements violated their right to privacy. In the landmark case of Hill v. Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Assn. (1994) 7 Cal. 4th 1, 38, the California Supreme Court held that Article I, Section 1 of the California Constitution, which recognizes certain “inalienable rights” including the right of privacy, creates a private right of action against private parties.

In April 30, 2018, the world of employment law was shaken by the decision of the California Supreme Court to apply a stricter standard for determining whether a worker was an employee or independent contractor. The new standard, set forth in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, is known as the ABC Test.

Soon after the California Supreme Court published its landmark decision of Dynamex Operations W. v. Superior Court, (2018) 4 Cal. 5th 903, 962 (“Dynamex”), the law firm of Davis & Wojcik APLC experienced an influx of employer consultations at a rate never before experienced by a single court ruling. The immediate application of the ABC Test caught many employers by surprise, and they were eager to know how Dynamex would impact their business. Their concern was well-founded.

Immediately after the Dynamex decision was published, the employment world was left wondering whether the ABC Test would be applied retroactively. Thanks to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, we now have an answer.

In the classic novel The Scarlet Letter, author Nathanial Hawthorne depicts the story of a woman who was forced to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ on her dress so the townspeople could publicly shame her for adultery. The major theme of The Scarlet Letter is the suffering of individuals from social stigmatizing – a vice that has only increased since the novel’s publication in 1850.

In recent years, the “Ban the Box” movement has sought to eliminate similar stigmatisms about convicted criminals who, after paying their debt to society, find it difficult to secure employment due to prejudice. The goal of this movement is to decrease discrimination against applicants who may have a criminal history. In 2015, President Obama “banned the box” on applications for federal government jobs. Currently, eleven states have mandated the removal of conviction history questions from job applications for private employers. In 2017, California passed multiple statutes that prohibit employers from considering expunged criminal records in hiring decisions.

Davis & Wojcik APLC recently settled an employment case against a major automotive company that withdrew its offer to hire a prospective employee after the corporation unlawfully investigated the employee’s expunged criminal record. The criminal conviction occurred more than ten years prior and was not the type of crime that affected the position.

California law prohibits discrimination against job applicants and employees on the basis of age, race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and related medical conditions), national origin, ancestry, mental and physical disability (including HIV and AIDS), medical conditions (such as cancer and genetic characteristics), marital status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity and gender expression), and military and veteran status.

In order to avoid the appearance of discrimination, employers should limit requests for information during the pre-employment process to those details essential to determining a person’s qualifications to do the job. The following are some general guidelines that employers and employees should know regarding the employment application process.

NAME: An employer should never ask questions about an individual’s name that require the applicant to disclose ancestry, national origin, race, religion or marital status, (i.e., asking for an applicant’s “maiden” name, or asking questions about the origin of a name, rather than simply asking if other names have been used). However, it is acceptable to ask an applicant’s name or previous name for purposes of checking their past work record.