California Supreme Court Civil Issues Pending: Labor - Compensation & Benefits

[UPDATED THROUGH JULY 3, 2014]

How Should Guards Be Compensated for Nighttime “On Call” Hours? After the Court of Appeal affirmed in part and reversed in part an order granting a preliminary injunction, the Court granted review on this issue: Are the guards that defendants provide for construction site security entitled to compensation for all nighttime “on call” hours, or may defendants deduct sleep time depending on the structure of the guards' work shifts? Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, Inc., S212704, (opinion below B240519, formerly 217 Cal.App.4th 851). Review was granted 10/16/13.

What Makes a Valid Class When Challenging Status as Employees v. Independent Contractors? After the Court of Appeal affirmed in part and reversed in part an order denying class certification, the Court accepted review on questions concerning the determination of whether common issues predominate in a proposed class action relating to claims that turn on whether members of the putative class are independent contractors or employees. Ayala v. Antelope Valley Newspapers, Inc. S206874 (opinion below B235484, formerly 210 Cal.App.4th 77). Review was granted on 1/30/13.  Update 6/26/13: The Court orders supplemental letter briefs discussing the relevance of Martinez v. Combs (2010) 49 Cal.4th 35, 52-57, 73, and IWC wage order No. 1-2001, subdivision 2(D)-(F) (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11010, subd. 2(D)-(F)), with additional reference to Sotelo v. Medianews Group, Inc. (2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 639, 660-662 and Bradley v. Networkers Internat., LLC (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 1129, 1146-1147.  Update 3/6/14: Oral argument scheduled for 4/2/14. Update 3/11/14: Oral argument rescheduled for 4/3/14.  Update 4/3/14: Case argued and submitted.   Update 6/30/14: Opinion issued. The Court unanimously affirmed the court of appeal, holding that whether a common law employer-employee relationship exists turns foremost on the degree of a hirer’s right to control how the end result is achieved; and that class certification will depend on the extent to which individual variations in the hirer’s rights vis-à-vis each putative class member exist, and whether such variations, if any, are manageable. The trial court erroneously rejected certification largely based not on differences in Antelope Valley’s right to exercise control, but on variations in how that right was exercised.

Can Commission Payments be Reallocated Under California Law? In response to a request under C.R.C., rule 8.548 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit,the Court certified the following issue: “May an employer, consistent with California’s compensation requirements, allocate an employee’s commission payments to the pay periods for which they were earned?” Peabody v. Time Warner Cable, Inc., S204804 (9th Cir. Order is here, 689 F.3d 1134). Certification was granted on 10/17/12. Update 5/9/14: Oral argument scheduled for 6/4/14.  Update 6/4/14: Case argued and submitted. Briefs are here.

Can Misconduct Disqualify a Discharged Employee From Unemployment Benefits?
Did the trial court properly find that employee misconduct within the meaning of Amador v. Unemployment Ins. Appeals Bd. (1984) 35 Cal.3d 671 disqualified a discharged employee from receiving unemployment insurance benefits? Paratransit, Inc. v. Unemployment Ins. Appeals Bd., S204221 (opinion below, C063863, formerly 206 Cal.App.4th 1319), review granted on 9/26/12.  Update 4/4/14: Oral argument scheduled for 5/6/14. Update: 5/6/14: Case argued and submitted. The briefs are hereUpdate 7/3/14: Opinion issued. The unanimous Court held, based on the undisputed facts in the administrative record, that the employee’s refusal to sign a disciplinary notice with which he disagreed, based on his mistaken belief that he was entitled to first consult with a union representative, was not misconduct but was, at most, a good faith error in judgment that does not disqualify him from unemployment benefits.

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