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Labor and Employment Law Section

News from the Section 

Message from the Chair from the March eNews

Michael E. WhitakerCalifornia's courts close on March 31 for the state holiday commemorating César Chávez's birthday. César Chávez was known for his advocacy for better working conditions and pay for California's farm workers.

César Chávez co-founded the United Farm Workers. He was instrumental in enacting California's Agricultural Relations Labor Act, which in 1975 established a statutory framework for collective bargaining in agriculture.

Legal changes achieved by César Chávez and his allies included banning the spraying of pesticides while workers are in the fields, prohibiting use of short-handled hoes that required stooping and caused back injuries, mandating that drinking water be provided, requiring provision of toilets, and establishing safety standards to protect against heat illness.

César Chávez described his work in terms of improving human dignity: "Our very lives are dependent, for sustenance, on the sweat and sacrifice of the campesinos. Children of farm workers should be as proud of their parents' professions as other children are of theirs."

Michael E. Whitaker
Section Chair

Quotes of the Month

  • "The love for justice that is in us is not only the best part of our being but it is also the most true to our nature." – César Chávez
  • "We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own." – César Chávez
  • "When we are really honest with ourselves we must admit our lives are all that really belong to us. So it is how we use our lives that determines the kind of men we are." – César Chávez

Upcoming Educational Programs

5th Advanced Wage & Hour Conference and 32nd Labor and Employment Law Section Annual Meeting

July 9 & 10, 2015
JW Marriott LA Live
900 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Earn up to 13.75 Hours of CLE Credit

You can now REGISTER ONLINE for this program. For more information, see 5th Advanced Wage & Hour Conference and 32nd Labor and Employment Law Section Annual Meeting

This Month in Labor and Employment Law News

  • A federal judge held that a jury will decide whether Lyft drivers are legally employees rather than independent contractors. The case is Cotter v. Lyft, Inc., CV13-04065 (N.D. Cal.).
  • Target reportedly joined Walmart and other large discount retail chains in raising its employees' pay to at least $9 an hour this year and $10 a year next year. It is unclear the extent to which this is a result of tightening labor market conditions, the living wage campaign, or other factors.
  • The President vetoed Congress' disapproval of a newly-promulgated National Labor Relations Board rule to speed union elections. The controversial rule will now go into effect as scheduled on April 14.

This Month in Labor and Employment Law History

  • March 8, 1971: United States Supreme Court holds that Title VII prohibits employment decisions that have a disparate impact on protected groups. Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971) 401 U.S. 424.
  • March 4, 1915: President Wilson signs the Seaman's Act, sometimes called the sailors' Magna Carta. The Act abolishes imprisonment for desertion, establishes a 56 hour work week, and allows unionization.
  • March 31, 1927: César Chávez was born.

Top Two Newly-Published Labor and Employment Cases

  • Young v. United Parcel Service Inc. (United States Supreme Court, March 25, 2015) 2015 DJDAR 3357. The Court held that the McDonnell Douglas framework for individual disparate treatment claims applies to Pregnancy Discrimination Act accommodation cases. To establish a prima facie case, the employee shows she was denied accommodations she sought while others similar in their ability or inability to work were accommodated. The employer then articulates a legitimate business reason other than the expense of adding pregnant women to the categories of accommodated workers. The employee may then show pretext.
  • Department of the California Highway Patrol v. Superior Court (Alvarado) (California Supreme Court, February 26, 2015) 2015 DJDAR 2241. The Court unanimously affirmed the "dual employment" doctrine that two entities can both employ someone and thereby both be liable for the same wrongful act. The Court listed factors to be considered in determining whether a second entity is a dual employer. When the second entity is a government entity, the Court held, statutes authorizing contracting are paramount.

Write for the Labor and Employment Law Review

This month's issue of our Section's Labor and Employment Law Review features the following articles:

  • New Law Targets Sexual Harassment in California Agriculture, by Della Barnett and Meredith Johnson; and
  • When Remote-Work Expenses Must Be Reimbursed Under Labor Code Section 2802, by Sebastian Miller

ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS WELCOME: We encourage you to take a look at our Guidelines and Editorial Policy and to send us your well-researched articles for consideration.

MCLE CREDIT: If you're looking for MCLE credits (including for ethics), consider self-study articles from the Law Review, available here for as low as $15 a credit.

Section Publications on California Public Labor & Employment Law

Our Section published the two definitive treatises on California public sector labor and employment law:

Your Legal Rights

Labor and Employment Law Section on the RadioRadio station KALW and 15 other radio stations regularly broadcast "Your Legal Rights," a show in which callers can ask questions of attorneys with expertise in different areas of the law. Our Section sponsors programs on labor and employment law. Here's what's coming up next:

  • December 10, 2014, 7-8 p.m. Protected Leaves of Absence, with speakers Chaya Mandelbaum and Maribel Hernandez.

Tune into KALW at 91.7 FM for the San Francisco Bay area and on the Internet at www.kalw.org. To see all Labor-related programs in our archive, see Your Legal Rights.

Practice Tips

This month, Practice Tips offers three tips on complying with statutory deadlines.

  • Calendar deadlines promptly, both on paper and electronically. Calendar earlier reminders for important deadlines. When practical, assign more than one person to make sure each deadline is met.
  • A request that the trial court reverse its grant of summary judgment is best made as a motion for a new trial filed after judgment is entered. Judgment is usually entered before a motion for reconsideration can be heard, leaving the trial court without jurisdiction to rule on a motion for reconsideration and with discretion on whether to treat it as a motion for a new trial.
  • Not only must an appeal not be filed late, it must not be filed early. A defendant who filed an appeal from a compensatory damages "judgment," but before a final judgment awarded punitive damages, had his appeal dismissed. Baker v. Castaldi (March 16, 2015) 2015 DJDAR 3087.

Get Online Participatory MCLE Credit from the Labor and Employment Law Section

Your Labor and Employment Law Section offers lots of continuing education about employment discrimination law, as well as many other topics. We have online MCLE you can access any time, day or night, using a handy new webpage organized by category. Click on any of the topics listed below to see what courses your Section offers on that topic:

Case Law Alerts

Have you signed up to receive Labor Case Alerts? These case summaries are being sent to you by the Labor and Employment Law Section, in cooperation with Phyllis Cheng, DLA Piper LLP (US). Section members can sign up through My State Bar Profile.

Section Publications on California Public Labor & Employment Law

Our Section published the two definitive treatises on California public sector labor and employment law:

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Contact Us

Labor & Employment Law Section The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
FAX 415-538-2368