[Podcast] A Conversation About Employment Law with Attorney Katy Raytis
Running a business and leading inspirational employees is very rewarding. Establishing goals, working together as a team, and achieving those goals leaves one with the feeling of a job well done. Sometimes you have a wrench thrown into the works that you weren’t expecting in the form of a complaint or lawsuit. The majority of businesses in the country are running in an ethical manner, adhering to the various laws that govern those industries and employees. Even the most well-intentioned leader can fall victim to an issue, often unbeknownst to them, as the volume of changes in labor laws are overwhelming. It reminds me of spinning plates, running back and forth trying to keep all the plates spinning, adding a new plate each time, until finally, there are so many, one drops. I’m confident that most employers don’t mean for an employee to be misclassified, paid incorrectly, treated differently, etcetera; it simply becomes a product of growth combined with the inability to stay on top of all the nuances in labor law. Well… ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
As we approach the end of the first quarter of 2020, we are reminded of all the laws that took effect in California on January 01, 2020, that were on the radar of most employers such as minimum wage changes, AB5, and the various bills that affect handbook verbiage. However, business leaders cannot be complacent when it comes to labor law. Legislative changes are typically well-publicized making it easier to prepare for, however, it is case law that tends to trip up a business as these changes happen any time a case is settled. When a plaintiff sues an employer and wins, it creates a road map for other plaintiffs to sue, which sparks a wave of similar lawsuits. Keeping abreast of cases that affect one’s industry, or practices is vital in one’s effort to remain compliant.
If the law has taught us anything, it’s a moving target. When a bill is approved and becomes a law, we know the specific date it takes effect, and what we need to do to prepare for it to remain compliant. But it doesn’t stop there. New cases are ruled upon during the course of the year causing what you do today to be different tomorrow, so you need to stay on top of it. For example, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles changed the test for independent contracts mid-year 2018. Just as stocks react to market conditions, so does case law. The plaintiff attorneys will ride the wave of cases that are being won. There is always a trend in lawsuits and you have to keep an eye on those trends to see what wave is coming next. Misclassification of exempt vs. nonexempt employees, meal and rest period violations, and suitable seating have run their course. The latest lawsuit trends are now security bag checks with respect to off the clock time and the practice of calling in for one’s schedules. As Ward v. Tilly’s, Inc. showed us in 2019, employers are liable for reporting time pay when they require employees to call in for their schedule each day. Two hours of pay for a couple minute phone call just isn’t worth it. While this case may be narrow in scope as it pertains to Tilly’s specific on-call process, it is a case that allows other plaintiffs to file suit against their employers for similar on-call practices. Who knows that the next trend will be? Remain informed and keep an eye on case results that impact your business throughout the year.