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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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24 Apr 2017 California Supreme Court Throws Down the Gauntlet on Arbitration Waivers

  The California Supreme Court is no stranger to invalidating mandatory arbitration provisions. Recently, however, the court lay down yet another challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion case, holding that an arbitration agreement that waives the right to public injunctive relief is unenforceable under California law.   In the case, McGill v. Citibank, N.A., Sharon McGill alleged that Citbank engaged in illegal and deceptive practices in marketing a credit insurance plan she purchased. She filed a class action suit under…

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15 Aug 2016 Fifth Circuit Triples Down on the Legality of Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements

  On August 10, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals – for the third time – rejected the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) position that class action waivers in arbitration agreements are invalid under the National Labor Relations Act. In a short opinion, the Circuit said it was bound by its two previous published opinions directly addressing this issue and ruling that such waivers are valid pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act.    The ruling last Wednesday was the first time the Fifth Circuit has…

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14 May 2016 Employer’s Delay Results in Waiver of Arbitration

In sports, a team could be penalized if there is a delay in game. In law, a company could lose its right to compel arbitration if it delays in exercising its arbitration rights. This is exactly what happened in a recent 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Messina v. North Central Distributing, Inc. d/b/a Yosemite Home Decor.   In Messina, the former vice president, Richard Messina, signed a two-year employment agreement with North Central Distributing, Inc., d/b/a Yosemite Home Decor (Yosemite) as well as a…

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15 Oct 2015 California Employee Arbitration Bill Vetoed

In a move that has left employers relieved, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill (AB 465) that would have prohibited employers from implementing arbitration agreements with its employees unless those employees had counsel and negotiated the arbitration agreement. The bill also would impose a $10,000 fine on employers for each violation.   In his veto message earlier this week, Governor Brown explained that the bill imposed a “blanket ban on mandatory arbitration agreements” and this ban “has been consistently struck down in other states…

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08 Oct 2015 Altering Arbitration: Sakkab v. Luxottica Retail North America

Overtime claims that a former LensCrafters employee brought against a California franchise led the Ninth Circuit to once again tweak arbitration rules. The divided 9th Circuit panel reversed the district court’s order granting defendant Luxottica Retail North America, Inc.’s motion to compel arbitration of claims and dismissing plaintiff’ Shukri Sakkab’s  first amended complaint, in a putative class action raising class employment-related claims and a non-class representative claim for civil penalties under the Private Attorney General Act.   Mr. Sakkab filed the complaint in San Diego against defendant,…

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02 Sep 2015 Man Bites Dog: Court Vacates Arbitration Award Against Sexual Harasser

It is the rare occasion when a court throws out an arbitration award. Typically the court’s ability to do so is quite limited by statute and/or the collective bargaining agreement under which the arbitration award. But a New York appellate court recently vacated an arbitrator’s award that put a bus driver (and union official) back to work even though he did not even show up to a hearing to contest sexual harassment charges against him. Recognizing its limited ability to vacate an arbitration award, the court…

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28 Aug 2015 California Strikes Again! Senate ‘OKs’ Bill Limiting Employment Arbitration

  This week the California State Senate passed a measure that would block most employers from forcing workers to agree to arbitrate labor disputes instead of filing claims with state agencies or courts.  The senate approved the measure, AB-465—which is sponsored by the California Labor Federation and has drawn fierce opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce. Following AB-465’s passage, the senate ordered the bill to the assembly. The bill would add a new provision to the Labor Code to prohibit any person from:  …

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18 Aug 2015 Federal Court Allows Arbitration After Employer’s Nine-Month Delay

  At first glance, a recent decision from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania appears to throw cold water on the generally accepted rule that an employer who waits too long to enforce its right to arbitrate employment disputes waives that right.  The case, Serine v. Marshall, Dennehy, Warner & Goggin, et al., involved an employee who sued her former employer – a law firm – in federal court and the firm waited more than nine months before seeking to pursue arbitration.   The law firm…

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30 Jan 2015 Are You Relying on Electronic Signatures for Employment Documents?

The California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, in Ruiz v. Moss Bros. Auto Group, Inc., recently affirmed an order denying a petition to compel arbitration where the employer failed to present sufficient evidence that the employee electronically signed an arbitration agreement. In Ruiz, Plaintiff Ernesto Ruiz filed a putative class action complaint alleging various wage and hour violations by his employer, Moss Bros. The company filed a petition to compel arbitration of Mr. Ruiz’s individual claims based on an arbitration agreement the Company claimed he electronically…

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23 Jan 2015 Supreme Court Leaves California’s Carve-Out for PAGA Wage-and-Hour Representative Actions Intact

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied certification of a petition challenging the California Supreme Court’s ruling in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal. 4th 348 (2014) that representative Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims cannot be waived in employment arbitration agreements. As a result, California’s carve-out exempting PAGA claims from arbitration agreements remains intact, and employees can continue to bring PAGA representative actions even if they have signed arbitration agreements with class and representative action waivers. California employers should brace for the…

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