With Cedar Point decision, Supreme Court Conservative Supermajority Takes Aim at CA Workplace Regulations
The Supreme Court handed down a decision on June 23 in Cedar Point v. Hassid, a case concerning union access to California farms. Since the 1960s, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act has guaranteed that union organizers enjoy limited access to agricultural laborers at their places of work. In 1976, the Supreme Court dismissed business leaders’ challenges to the law as a violation of property rights.
The current Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority has a different view of the issue. On Wednesday, the Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that the California law violates the Fifth Amendment, and that the law allows for public use of private property “without just compensation.” At oral arguments, Justice Amy Coney Barrett suggested a fee of $50 per “taking” of the farms’ property.
Organized labor often depends on being able to access the workplace, particularly in the case of agricultural workers, many of whom work in risky conditions for low wages, are immigrants, and may not speak English. In this respect, the decision is disastrous for organized labor in the state. However, the decision could also affect other workplace regulations, including nondiscrimination regulations. As Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern wrote, “[The decision] undermines the broader legal framework that permits the government to impose all manner of regulations on private property, including workplace safety laws and nondiscrimination requirements. With Cedar Point, the Supreme Court has handed business owners a loaded gun to aim at every regulation they oppose.”
On June 23, Lauren Teukolsky moderated a panel entitled, "Distress Call: How to Evaluate Claims of Financial Distress by Defendants in Wage-and-Hour Cases." The panel was part of an Advanced Wage & Hour Conference held by the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), a statewide organization of nearly 1,300 plaintiff-side employment attorneys. Ms. Teukolsky is currently the Co-Chair of CELA's Wage & Hour Committee. Panel speakers included Vanessa Hill, a CPA with Evidentia Consulting; Jim Zimmer, a licensed private investigator and President of Benchmark Investigations; Lynn Frank, a mediator with more than 30 years of experience helping parties to resolve complex litigation; and Ken Yoon, a wage-and-hour class action attorney with significant experience. The panel provided practical guidance to plaintiffs' attorneys who are faced with claims of financial distress from defendants, both companies and individuals.
Ms. Teukolsky is a frequent speaker at conferences on topics of employment law and litigation. She has two upcoming speaking engagements: one virtual appearance for the California Lawyers Association (formerly State Bar) Labor & Employment Section on emerging wage and hour trends, and one in-person appearance in Las Vegas for the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) Annual Conference on opposing motions to compel arbitration.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.