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This week’s stories include ...
(1) Clarity on California’s “Day of Rest” Provisions
Our top story: The California Supreme Court clarifies the state’s ambiguous “day of rest” provisions. The provisions state that, with certain exceptions, employers will not cause “employees to work more than six days in seven.” The state’s high court addressed three questions about this law that had been certified by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The court determined that employees are entitled to one day of rest per workweek. So, every Sunday marks the beginning of a new seven-day period. Additionally, the court clarified that employees who work six hours or less during each day of the week are not entitled to a day of rest and that employees can choose not to take the day of rest if they are fully aware of the entitlement. Kevin Sullivan, from Epstein Becker Green, has more:
“So many California employers have staffs that work seven days a week. They have operations that are seven days a week. And those staffs are entitled to one day of rest within a workweek. . . . And the decision is quite important for those employers, because it defines an employer’s obligation, that, while an employee is entitled to a day of rest within seven, the employer cannot cause that employee to forgo that entitlement or to make them work that seventh day within a single workweek. And so, the California Supreme Court decided that an employer has an obligation to apprise employees of that entitlement and to remain neutral and leave the decision whether to work that seventh day up to the employee . . . .”
(2) Tenth Circuit Revives Title VII Claim
The Tenth Circuit held that quid pro quo and hostile work environment harassment can be based on the same facts. A male mechanic filed a lawsuit alleging both quid pro quo and hostile work environment discrimination, claiming that he was terminated for refusing the advances of his female supervisor. In his initial Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge, the mechanic said that he was harassed but did not include any further details. The district court dismissed all claims except for the hostile work environment claim, finding that the quid pro quo claim was not raised in the EEOC charge. A split Tenth Circuit reversed, holding that the details of the quid pro quo claim were not needed in the EEOC charge for the claim to survive, because quid pro quo and hostile work environment harassment are not separately recognizable claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
(3) Federal Judge Finds Joint Employer in Guest Worker Suit
A district judge in Florida has ruled that a citrus company is a joint employer with a labor contractor that supplied it with workers. The case involves a class of more than 150 guest workers under the H-2A visa program who allege that they were not paid proper wages. The labor contractor that hired and supplied the workers maintained control over their transportation, housing, and equipment. And the judge found that the citrus company’s control over the work, method of payment, benefits, and location of the work supported a finding that the citrus company was a joint employer.
(4) New Employment Laws in Georgia
Georgia has ushered in new employment laws. A new state measure favoring businesses that use “on call” or “predictive” scheduling prohibits cities and other local governments from mandating additional pay for cancelled shifts and schedule changes. And the newly signed Family Care Act requires businesses with 25 or more employees that provide paid sick leave to allow employees to use five of those days to care for immediate family members. Both laws will go into effect on July 1, 2017.
(5) Tip of the Week
Jonathan Bayer, Managing Director, General Counsel, and Chief Compliance Officer of Sagent Advisors, has some advice on the best way to protect a firm:
“I think it’s important that you protect the firm. It’s one of the key components of the job, if not the primary component of it. But it’s important to protect the firm while being commercial. And it’s important to be user-friendly. And, at times, you may have to say ‘no’ to the business team. It’s better if that’s a collaborative effort between the business and the legal department. You don’t want to be a hindrance to doing business, so it’s important to get buy-in from senior management.”
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