Plaintiffs Given Broad Access to Discovery in PAGA Suits by California Supreme Court

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by Grace Lim-Ayres, Esq.

On July 13, 2017, the California Supreme Court in Williams v. Superior Court (Marshalls of CA, LLC) issued an opinion addressing the scope of discovery in representative actions brought under PAGA (Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, codified in Cal. Lab. Code § 2698 et seq.).  The Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) authorizes aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for Labor Code violations.

The Williams Court unanimously reversed the trial court’s discovery order denying plaintiff access to statewide contact information for fellow employees of other Marshalls stores.  It held that plaintiffs in PAGA actions have access to a broad scope of discovery similar to discoverable information in a class action.  The plaintiff is entitled to statewide contact information at the onset of the case to determine which cause of action to plead, and whether a broader representative action is warranted.

In what could be considered another blow to employers in an already employee-friendly state, given the relatively low threshold for pleading, employees may now bring more PAGA claims that are in fact “fishing expeditions”, which will in turn require employers to spend more time defending against them.  In addition, it is clear that statewide contact information is relevant and discoverable in a PAGA claim at the outset of the case. Continue reading

Santa Monica, California’s Minimum Wage and Sales Tax Will Increase on July 1, 2017

Santa MonicaAs of July 1, 2017, the City of Santa Monica will implement changes to its sales tax and minimum wage.

For small employers with 1-25 employees, the wage will be $10.50 per hour.

For large employers with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage will increase to $12.00 per hour.

In addition, for employee of hotels, the minimum wage will increase to $15.66 per hour.

California picFinally, the sales tax in the City of Santa Monica will increase to 10.25%, making it one of the highest in the nation.  California has the highest state-level sales tax rate, at 7.25%.

The five states with the highest average combined state and local sales tax rates are Louisiana (9.98 percent), Tennessee (9.46 percent), Arkansas (9.30 percent), Alabama (9.01 percent), and Washington (8.92 percent).

The five states with the lowest average combined rates are Alaska (1.76 percent), Hawaii (4.35 percent), Wyoming (5.40 percent), Wisconsin (5.42 percent), and Maine (5.5 percent).

Action Plan: Continue reading

New Year, New Employer Responsibilities for January 2017

Golden gateCalifornia legislators continue to create new and revise old laws.  A summary of the changes for 2017, and annual best practices recommendations, are provided below:

  1. Take note of increase to minimum wage and update in payroll/ with payroll processor
  2. Advise employees of decreased mileage reimbursement to 53.5 cents per mile
  3. Post updated federal, state, and local ordinance posters in common areas
  4. Use updated I-9 form by January 21, 2017
  5. Distribute Notice to Employee to reflect changes in wages or company polices within 7 days of the change
  6. Update Employee Handbook (annually) and conduct Performance Reviews
  7. Ensure personnel files are up to date with signed documents (including Anti-Harassment policy and Arbitration Agreement, among others)
  8. Schedule Sexual Harassment training
  1. Minimum Wage

fee-increaseAs of January 1, 2017, the minimum wage has been increased to $10.50 per hour in California for employers with 26 or more employees, and remains at $10.00 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees.

In addition, several cities will see an additional increase in the minimum wage.  The following is a short list of cities with more expansive minimum wages for employers of all sizes, unless otherwise noted: Continue reading

Online filing with the EDD will be mandatory for Companies with 10+ Employees in 2017

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Beginning Sunday, January 1, 2017, employers with 10 or more employees will be required to electronically submit employment tax returns, wage reports, and payroll tax deposits to the Employment Development Department (EDD). Employees with fewer than 10 employees will be subject to this requirement beginning January 1, 2018.

This mandate also applies to out-of-state employers who report payroll taxes to the EDD.

The e-file and e-pay mandate requires the following returns, reports, and payments to be electronically submitted: Continue reading

Increased Minimum Wage for Employers with 26+ Employees Starting Jan 1, 2017

fee-increaseThe California minimum wage law has been modified so that the wages will gradually increase to $15.00 per hour by 2022.

For the first time, the increases are grouped by employer size.  Employers with 26 or more employees will need to increase the minimum wage from $10.00 per hour to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2017.  Employers with 25 or fewer employees will have another year until the minimum wage increases by fifty cents for their employees.

The schedule for the California minimum wage increases for large employers is as follows: Continue reading

Changes to California Paid Sick Leave Requirements on July 13, 2015

sick leaveBy Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. and Gayane Khechoomian, Esq.

The new Paid Sick Leave law that went into effect in California on July 1, 2015 was already amended less than two weeks after it took effect on July 1, 2105. This means that employers may have to revisit, and most likely update their paid leave policies and Employee Handbooks.

An employer must individually notify all employees hired prior to January 1, 2015 of changes to terms and conditions of employment that relate to paid sick leave within 7 days of the actual change. Information concerning any new or previously existing paid sick leave program that includes information required to be given to each employee by Labor Code section 2810.5(a), must be provided to all employees. A revised DLSE notice form may be used for providing individual notice to these existing employees unless the employer chooses an authorized alternative method. Continue reading