Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP

Employment Updates

U.S. Supreme Court Gives Employers A Big Boost In Fighting Class Actions

June 20, 2011. Besieged by class-action litigation in recent years, employers received a major victory in the long anticipated decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes. In a tight 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wal-Mart in its efforts to defeat certification of a nationwide class of female employees. The putative class of 1.5 million women sought billions of dollars in back pay and other relief, arising from the alleged discriminatory actions of store managers. In what Justice Scalia described as “one of the most expansive class actions ever,” current and former employees of Wal-Mart alleged systemic discrimination against women in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  More>>

Court Finds Neutral Rounding Is Lawful

California employers that utilize neutral rounding practices to calculate time for non-exempt employees have received some very welcome news.

In Silva v. See’s Candy Shops, Inc., the Court of Appeal overturned a trial court decision, which previously found that rounding violates California law.  The appellate court held that employers may round employee time to the nearest tenth of an hour, provided that such rounding is fair and neutral on its face, and it will not result, over a period of time, in a failure to properly compensate employees for all hours worked.

A contrary decision could have wreaked havoc to longstanding employer practices.  More>>

NLRB Proposes New Rule Requiring Employers to Notify Employees of Right to Unionize

December 21, 2010. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today submitted a Notice of Proposed Rule-making which, if enacted, would require most private employers to display posters informing workers of their rights to organize, bargain collectively, and engage in other union activities without retaliation from the employer. The proposed rule is similar to the notice posting requirement finalized by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) earlier this year, which applied only to federal contractors. The NLRB seeks to expand the scope of the DOL’s efforts to include all private-sector employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The proposed rule-making is now subject to a required 60-day comment period, after which it is anticipated to be enacted in full. More>>

IRS Delays Mandatory W-2 Reporting of Cost of Health Care Coverage

On October 12, 2010, the IRS issued a notice providing interim relief to employers with regard to reporting the cost of coverage of employer-sponsored group health plans. Notice 2010-69 states that the previously mandatory notification to employees of the cost of such coverage will not be required on Forms W-2 issued for 2011. This notice should come as welcome news for employers facing the daunting prospect of having to comply with health care cost reporting requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“Health Care Act of 2010”). The Health Care Act of 2010, which was enacted as Public Law 111-148 on March 23, 2010, would have required employers to report the total cost of employer-sponsored health care coverage beginning with tax year 2011.  More>>

Labor Code § 512 Revised to Allow Employees Under a Valid CBA to Negotiate for On-Duty Meal Periods

On September 30, 2010, California Governor Arnold Schwartznegger signed Assembly Bill 569 into law, exempting certain categories of unionized employees from California’s meal period laws. AB 569, authored and championed by Senator Bill Emmerson, will take effect January 1, 2011. Prior to the introduction of AB 569, existing labor law prohibited employers from requiring an employee to work more than 5 hours per day without providing a mandatory “off-duty” meal period, subject to certain poorly-articulated exceptions. AB 569 amends Labor Code § 512 to clarify those occupations exempted from meal period requirements, including those within the following industries: ·          Construction ·          Commercial driving ·          Security services ·          Wholesale baking ·          Motion picture ·          Broadcasting ·          Electrical or gas corporation ·          Local publicly owned electric utility To qualify for exemption under the new law, the employees in question must be covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”).  More>>