Blog : Employment law

Employment Law News Roundup: October 2015

Employment Law News Roundup October 2015October was an important month for employment law due to a slew of critical legislation signed by California Governor Jerry Brown, and notable workplace discrimination cases that hit the headlines. Because a number of stories regarding employment law are published daily, we’ve decided to keep our readers informed by offering an employment law news roundup each month with summaries and links to top employment law-related content from around the web.

The following stories are an overview of just some of the latest developments in employment law, legislation and cases for October 2015.

Top Employment Law Stories for October 2015

1.) Brown’s Signing Tsunami: A Rundown of Bills the Governor Has Made Law This Week

Recently, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a slew of legislation that had been passed by the Senate and Assembly. A handful of the legislation Brown signed into law includes important employment law bills, including AB 622 which bars employers from abusing the E-Verify system, and SB 358 which will aggressively close California’s gender wage gap.

Read the full story on

2.) California Federal Court: Cosmetology and Hair Design Students Not “Employees” Entitled to Minimum Wage

A California federal judge ruled that former cosmetology and “hair design” students were not “employees” under the Fair Labor Standards Act or the wage-and-hour laws of California. . Benjamin v. B & H Education, Inc., et al., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144351 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 16, 2015).

In Benjamin, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that they were employees who performed functions as workers entitling them to minimum wage protection while enrolled at Defendants’ beauty schools. The court also found that the plaintiffs’ evidence regarding their “work” duties was too “vague and sparse.”

Read the full story on The National Law Review

3.) Carmichael Woman Wins Multimillion-Dollar Age Discrimination Suit

A top performer at Florida-based Bass Underwriters’ Sacramento office, Barbara Anderton, was terminated from her position after working for nearly 15 years at her employers’ underwriting firm. Anderton, who was 61 at the time, brought legal action in 2013 against her employer for age discrimination, alleging that she had been wrongfully terminated in favor of a younger male colleague who was promoted into her position.

Bass Underwriters’ attorneys have denied Anderton’s claim saying that she left the job due to a “family dispute” at the company (her brother Joe is an executive VP). But recently, a Sacramento Superior Court jury awarded Anderton a multimillion-dollar judgment in the age discrimination suit.

Read the full story on The Sacramento Bee

4.) Governor’s Pen Sends Anti-Employment Arbitration Bill to the Grave

On October 11, Governor Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 465. If approved, AB 465 would have banned mandatory agreements to arbitrate Labor Code claims as a condition of employment.

In addition to vetoing the bill, Governor Brown explained his decision. First, he observed stated that the bill was “far-reaching” and would’ve made California the only U.S. state to have a prohibition of this type. He also observed claimed that existing California law already has protections that address the issue of unfairness in employment arbitration agreements. Governor Brown also found that the provisions likely violated the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).

Read the full story on California Peculiarities Employment Law Blog

5.) Judge: Yes, Hobby Lobby Discriminated Against Trans Woman

In a decision from May that was just made public in October, Administrative Law Judge William J. Borah ruled that Hobby Lobby violated the Illinois Human Rights Act by refusing to allow a transgender female employee use the women’s restroom at work.

The employee, Meggan Sommerville, began her gender transition in 2009. She has worked as the frame shop manager at the Aurora, Illinois Hobby Lobby for more than 16 years. Sommerville first filed a complaint against the Christian-owned chain of Oklahoma City-city based arts and crafts stores in 2011 when she alleged that management wrote her up for using the women’s restroom.

Read the full story on The Advocate

6.) Minor League Players Granted Conditional Class Certification in Wage Suit

A group of former minor league baseball players have been granted conditional class certification in a California federal court suit against Major League Baseball teams alleging that they were not paid the minimum wage in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Both current and former minor league players will now have the opportunity to participate in the suit in order to recover both minimum wage and overtime compensation.

On October 20, U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero, in San Francisco, granted the motion of the former players to certify a class of all minor league players who worked for the MLB or any MLB franchise since February 7, 2011 but had not played in the major leagues.

Read the full story on The National Law Review

7.) New California Employment Laws on Fair Pay, Waiver of Meal Periods

California continues its focus on employment-related legislation. Senate Bill 358 expands California’s Fair Pay Act, and is being touted as the toughest law in the nation of its kind. It moves the burden to California employers to prove that an employee’s higher rate of pay isn’t based on gender, plus provides California employees with the right to sue if they are paid less than coworkers of a different gender performing “substantially similar” work. This new California law becomes effective January 1, 2016.

A second law involving the waiver of healthcare industry meal periods passed in reaction to a decision from California’s appellate court earlier this year, plus employers dodged a bullet when Governor Brown elected not to sign Assembly Bill 465, which would have prohibited employers from requiring employees to agree to mandatory arbitration.

Read the full story on Lexology

8.) Paid Sick Leave Expansion Continues – This Time to Federal Contracting

President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing paid sick leave for federal contractors. The order will apply to employees working on federal government contracts that are solicited or awarded on or after January 1, 2017.

Once in effect, both full and part-time employees performing work on covered contracts are entitled to earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours in which they work. Employers also won’t be able to cap the total accrual of paid sick leave below 56 hours per year. Employees will also be able to carryover paid sick leave year after year. In addition to that, if an employee is rehired within a 12-month period subsequent to when his/her employment was severed, all unused paid sick leave will also be reinstated.

Read the full story on Employment Essentials

9.) Papa John’s Stores to Pay $500,000 Wage Theft Settlement

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman continues to crack down on wage theft, and now, 250 workers will be sharing a $500,000 settlement from four current and former Papa John’s franchisees.

“Once again, we’ve found Papa John’s franchises in New York that are ripping off their workers and violating critical state and federal laws,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Once again, I call on Papa John’s and other fast food companies to step up and stop the widespread lawlessness plaguing your businesses and harming the workers who make and deliver your food.”

Read the full story on

10.) Sacramento Council Approves 12.50 Minimum Wage Plan After Compromise Reached

The Sacramento City Council recently approved an increase to the city’s minimum wage. Released as a City Council hearing started, the new proposal removed controversial exemptions from the original plan while keeping wage numbers the same. The plan, calling for a minimum wage increase to $12.50 an hour by 2020, will also include increases after that date linked to the Consumer Price Index.

Though the plan earned the support of some key interest groups, both labor groups and low-wage workers blasted the proposal.

Read the full story on The Sacramento Bee

Do you know of other employment law stories from October that we should add to our list? Let us know in the comments.

If you are employed in California and facing workplace discrimination, harassment, or employer retaliation, contact the expert attorneys at Hennig Ruiz for your free consultation.


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