Hunton Employment & Labor Perspectives

Analysis and Development in Employment & Labor Issues

The opioid epidemic is causing employers to consider the best ways to ensure a safe workplace, but companies should be careful when addressing employees’ prescription drug use.  Recent court filings and settlements by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission illustrate the potential pitfalls employers face when attempting to implement a drug-free workplace.
The #MeToo movement has galvanized many into taking action to fight workplace harassment. Since the movement began in the fall of last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—tasked with enforcing laws prohibiting sexual harassment—has indicated it has seen an uptick in the amount of traffic to its website.
The California Supreme Court has ruled that California employers cannot rely on the federal de minimis doctrine to avoid claims for unpaid wages on small amounts of time.   Under the de minimis doctrine, employers may be excused from paying workers for small amounts of otherwise compensable time if the work is irregular and administratively difficult to record.  Federal Courts have frequently found that daily periods of approximately 10 minutes are de minimis even though otherwise compensable.
California was one of the leading states to tackle pay discrimination by banning inquiries into salary history.  California Labor Code Section 432.2, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, prohibits public and private employers from seeking or relying upon the salary history of applicants for employment.  But some of the law’s terms were undefined and some of the provisions were unclear, so after Section 432.2 went into effect, employers had questions about how to remain compliant with the law when hiring new employees. Acknowledging the need for clarity, Governor Jerry Brown signed an amendment into law on July 18, 2018.
The Supreme Court recently approved substantial changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including amendments to Rule 23, which covers federal class actions.  The amendments to Rule 23 seek to modernize and standardize the notice, settlement, objection, and appeal procedures.  If Congress approves the amendments, they will become effective December 1, 2018.     
n AHMC Healthcare, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. B285655 (June 25, 2018), California’s Second District Court of Appeals upheld an employer’s use of a payroll system that automatically rounds employee time up or down to the nearest quarter hour.  Although the California Supreme Court has not yet addressed this issue, AHMC Healthcare aligns with decisions from the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, many federal district courts, and California’s Fourth District Court of Appeals, which also upheld time-rounding practices.