Friday, July 20, 2018

Rodriguez v. Taco Bell

Rodriguez v. Taco Bell (9th Cir. 16-15465 7/18/18) Wage & Hour/Meal Breaks

The panel affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Taco Bell Corp. in a putative class action concerning employee meal breaks.

After the district court granted summary judgment to Taco Bell on most of plaintiff’s claims, the court granted plaintiff’s request that the district court dismiss the remaining pending claim. As a threshold jurisdictional issue, the panel held that the dismissal with prejudice created a valid final judgment for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

California Wage Order 5-2001 requires employees be relieved of all duty during a requisite meal period. During plaintiff’s period of employment, Taco Bell offered thirty-minute meal breaks that were fully compliant with California’s requirements, but with a special offer that employees could purchase a meal from the restaurant at a discount, provided they ate the meal in the restaurant.

The panel held that California law was not violated because Taco Bell relieved their employees of all duties during the meal break period and exercised no control over their activities, where employees were free to use the thirty minutes in any way they wished, subject only to the restriction that if they purchased a discounted meal, they had to eat in the restaurant. The panel rejected plaintiff’s contention that employees were under sufficient employer control to render the time compensable. The panel also rejected plaintiff’s assertion that the value of the discounted meals be added to the regular rate of pay for overtime purposes.

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Glazing Health & Welfare Fund v. Lamek

Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, employers are not fiduciaries as to unpaid contributions to ERISA benefit plans. Parties to an ERISA plan cannot designate unpaid contributions as plan assets.

Glazing Health & Welfare Fund v. Lamek - filed July 19, 2018
Cite as 2018 S.O.S. 16-16155

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Coffman v. Queen of the Valley Medical Center

An employer cannot begin unconditional bargaining and later withdraw recognition and refusing to bargain. The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success in establishing a withdrawal of recognition and refusal to bargain unconditionally, as well as a continuing threat of irreparable harm to the union's collective bargaining rights, to support the extraordinary remedy of injunctive relief, where the director could show that an employer had considerable dealings with the union following the union's certification, including discussions that resulted in agreements over some hours and working conditions, and that these negotiations took place before the employer made any official challenge to the certification.

Coffman v. Queen of the Valley Medical Center - filed July 16, 2018
Cite as 2018 S.O.S. 17-17413

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Dutta v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

A plaintiff lacked standing to bring a suit based on a prospective employer's violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act in failing to provide him with a copy of his consumer credit report and an opportunity to correct any inaccuracies where the plaintiff did not allege any actual harm or a substantial risk of such harm resulting from the violation.

Dutta v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. - filed July 13, 2018
Cite as 2018 S.O.S. 16-17216

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Monday, July 9, 2018

Caldera v. Dept. of Corrections & Rehabilitation

Caldera v. Dept. of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CA4/3 G053168 7/9/18) FEHA Harassment/Severe or Pervasive

Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), an employee with a disability can sue his or her employer and supervisors for disability harassment.  (Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (j)(1).)  The employee must prove the harassment was either severe or pervasive.  (Miller v. Department of Corrections (2005) 36 Cal.4th 446, 466.)

Augustine Caldera is a correctional officer at a state prison.  Officer Caldera stutters when he speaks.  The prison’s employees mocked or mimicked Caldera’s stutter at least a dozen times over a period of about two years.  Sergeant James Grove, a supervisor, participated in the mocking and mimicking of Caldera’s stutter.  Such conduct reflected the prison’s culture, according to a senior prison official.

Caldera sued the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and Grove (collectively defendants) for disability harassment, failure to prevent the harassment, and related claims.  A jury found the harassment to be both severe and pervasive and awarded Caldera $500,000 in noneconomic damages.  The trial court found the damage award to be excessive and granted defendants’ motion for a new trial solely as to that issue.  Defendants appeal and Caldera cross-appeals.

Defendants claim there is insufficient evidence the harassment was either severe or pervasive.  We disagree.  There is substantial evidence to support the jury’s factual findings.  Defendants also claim the trial court committed two instructional and one evidentiary error.  We find no prejudicial instructional errors and the claimed evidentiary error has been forfeited.

Caldera claims the trial court failed to file a timely statement of reasons after granting defendants’ motion for a new trial.  We agree.  The court’s new trial order as to the damage award is reversed.  In all other respects, the judgment is affirmed.


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Friday, July 6, 2018

Juarez v. Wash Depot Holdings

An employee's right to bring a claim under the California Private Attorneys General Act cannot be waived. A trial court did not abuse its discretion by declining to sever a PAGA waiver and enforce the remaining arbitration agreement which was printed in both English and Spanish and only the English-language version of the agreement contained a severability clause.

Juarez v. Wash Depot Holdings - filed July 3, 2018, Second District, Div. Six
Cite as 2018 S.O.S. 3389

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