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Pasadena California Business & Commercial Law Blog

New State Law Puts Shipping Customers at Risk

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed SB 1402, which quickly has shippers, particularly larger retailers, facing new levels of potential liability. The bill means retailers will now be held jointly liable when the trucking companies they hire for port drayage services violate state employment laws.

The law comes at a time with ongoing claims by truck drivers alleging they are being misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees. While the legislative findings in the bill seem to target motor carriers that abuse the independent contractor model, nothing in the legislation is limited to such carriers and in fact carriers with employee drivers also are subject to the new legislation.

Uber Picks Up Big Court Win with Help from a Recent Supreme Court Case

When Uber entered the market, it began to revolutionize transportation. However, along the way it has faced obstacles that in many instances have found Uber in court. One major issue it's facing is the claim by drivers that they are improperly treated by Uber as independent contractors rather than employees.

In a current class action on the issue, Uber scored a big win recently with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling the class action could not proceed, and the plaintiff-drivers are bound by their arbitration clauses and must proceed with their cases not just in arbitration, but individually as well, rather than as a class. Uber's victory was assisted by the recent U.S. Supreme Court case Epic Systems Court v. Lewis, which found individualized arbitration clauses to be valid.

National Labor Relations Board Looks to Reduce Liability of Some Companies

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced a renewed effort to limit liability for companies with workers that are not engaged specifically by the company. A new proposed rule would protect companies from lawsuits by persons hired by contractors or franchisees.

The Changing Gig Economy

For the last several years there's been both excitement and concern over the gig economy that seems to be growing by the day, as it starts to become the norm for more and more workers. With the explosion of companies like Lyft and Postmates, many more companies have come onto the scene. However, of late, recent news has indicated that the gig economy that is bringing a change to the way people work is still undergoing change itself.

Gap Inc. Strives to Benefit from Increased Diversity

Companies are always looking for ways to improve how well their business runs, and ultimately their bottom line. Over the years, many people have touted the positive impact diversity can have on a company. Now, Gap Inc. is doubling down on their efforts to build through diversity.

Gap's "This Way Ahead" program was previously a summer internship that sought to recruit workers from low-income neighborhoods. Now, the company is looking to expand that program in a major way. Gap is making the program year-round and pushing it from 15 cities to 53 globally.

California's Business Community Reacts to Dynamex

On April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court upended the state's independent contractor market with its decision in Dynamex Operations West v. Superior Court. The Court's ruling changed the way the law will determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The case discards the decades-old test of S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (Borello) and replaces it with a new "ABC Test." We initially discussed the difference between these cases in a May 2018 post.

While the decision itself is limited to California's Industrial Welfare Wage Orders it is still open as to how it will apply to other issues. This leaves businesses of all kinds wondering what the future holds for their independent contractors. With the uncertainty and potential change ahead, it is no surprise that some businesses that could be strongly impacted are aiming to take action.

An Employer's Duty to Track Employee Time Grows

Keeping track of employee time to ensure wages are properly paid as required by law can be tricky. A new California Supreme Court ruling just made the requirement that much more taxing for employers of all types.

In a case brought against Starbucks, an employee alleged he was required to perform several job duties after clocking out of work for the day. These included jobs such as transmitting sales data and bringing in patio furniture. Over the course of 17 months, this added up to about $100 in additional wages owed to the employee.

Western States Trucking Association Challenges Landmark Independent Contractor Decision Dynamex

On April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court upended the state's independent contractor market with its decision in Dynamex Operations West v. Superior Court. The Court's ruling changed the way court's will determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The case discards the decades-old test established in S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (Borello) and replaces it with a new "ABC Test." We initially discussed the difference between these cases in a May 2018 post.  

In response, the Western States Trucking Association (WSTA) has quickly moved to challenge the ruling. It is no surprise the WSTA has moved quickly as many trucking companies operate an independent contract owner-operator model. The Dynamex decision, as it stands, could entirely alter the landscape of the industry.

The Never-Ending Evolution of Social Media Continues to Challenge Employers

Managing employees has always been a challenge for any employer, large or small; however, ever since the rise of social media sites like Facebook, the challenge has seemed to grow exponentially.

Most recently it seems that the increasing exposure individual actions are receiving is testing employers in new ways. One example is the federal employee who was fired after a photo of her flipping off the presidential motorcade went viral. While a federal employer has additional considerations to those of a private one, the resulting lawsuit is cause for concern for any employer. Other recent stories include a woman fired from her job with an apartment development after the story of her calling the police on a black man wearing socks at the pool went viral.

Brick-and-Mortar Stores Chalk Up Rare Win Against Online Retailers

Ever since retailers like Amazon showed up on the scene it seems like brick-and-mortar stores have been fighting off blow after blow as online retailers took over seemingly every industry. But on June 21, 2018, the brick and mortars landed an unexpected blow to their online retailer opponents.

In the final week of its current term, the Supreme Court, in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., ruled states could tax online retailers even if they aren't physically based in the state. While the ruling is far from a devastating knockout, it does put bring brick-and-mortars on an even playing field in one area of their business.

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