On Tuesday, September 27, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed S.B. 1162 into law, requiring companies of 100 or more employees to submit annual reports detailing the mean and median pay of their employees by race and gender to California’s Civil Rights Department. This reporting will assist the State in combating pay disparities along race and gender lines. According to US Census figures, women earn about 83 cents to a man’s dollar. Black women are paid about 58 cents for every dollar a White man earns.
In addition to reporting requirements, the new law mandates that California companies with 15 or more employees include pay scales in their job postings. Those companies will also be required upon request to provide employees with the pay scale of their jobs and maintain job title and wage history for every employee. That data will be subject to inspection by California’s Labor Commissioner. Companies that fail to comply with this mandate could face penalties of up to $10,000.
Teukolsky Law congratulates all of those who fought for the bill’s passage, including the California Employment Lawyer’s Association, which sponsored the bill.
If you believe you are not being paid properly, click here to get in touch with our office. To read S.B. 1162 in its entirety, click here.
Lauren Teukolsky was quoted in a September 19th article by Bloomberg Law on AB 2188, a recently signed bill in California that prohibits employers from discriminating against workers who use cannabis in their off-work hours. Once the bill goes into effect on January 1, 2024, it will be illegal for California employers to make any employment decisions based on an employee’s use of cannabis “off the job and away from the workplace,” according to the law’s text. This means, for example, that an employer may not fire an employee who used cannabis use when they were off the job and away from work. Hiring decisions will be limited in this manner as well.
The law will not apply to workers in building and construction trades or those holding positions that require a federal background clearance. Also, the bill will not permit employees to possess, to be impaired by, or to use, cannabis on the job.
Governor Newsom’s signing of the bill represents a huge victory for many of California’s workers. Even though recreational cannabis has been legal in the state since 2018, and medicinal cannabis has been legal since 1996, California’s laws and cannabis testing technology are only just beginning to catch up. Standard drug tests still screen for substances in the body that may be present days or even weeks since an individual used cannabis. This means that, before AB 2188 takes effect, a worker or job applicant could still be fired or denied employment for having used cannabis during their own free time, weeks prior to any test being administered.
Some employer-side attorneys have suggested that AB 2188 inappropriately amends California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to afford cannabis users the same protections as minorities or other protected classes. Ms. Teukolsky counters that notion. As stated in the Bloomberg Law article:
“[D]iscipline against those who smoke or ingest marijuana disproportionately affects workers of color, said Lauren Teukolsky, who represents workers in court. It was one of the reasons Amazon.com Inc. stopped drug testing during the hiring process. The new law shielding marijuana consumers ‘is entirely consistent with FEHA’s aim of eliminating discrimination against people of color in the workplace,’ Teukolsky said in an email.”
To read the Bloomberg Law Article in its entirety, click here. If you believe your employer is behaving unlawfully and want to get in touch with Teukolsky Law, click here.
Governor Newsom Signs Groundbreaking Bill to Raise Wages and Improve Working Conditions for Fast Food Workers
On Labor Day, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 257 into law. The bill, also known as the FAST Recovery Act, is aimed at raising wages and improving the working conditions of California’s more than 550,000 fast-food workers by establishing a new state council with the power to set state-wide minimum standards for the fast-food industry.
The 10-member council will consist of political appointees from state health and labor agencies, as well as food industry officials, fast food workers, and union representatives. It will have the authority to raise the minimum wage for industry workers up to $22/hour and issue new safety and anti-discrimination rules. The standards set by the council would apply to any chain in California that has at least 100 stores nationwide that share a common brand.
AB 257 also improves the collective bargaining power of fast-food workers across California. Currently, wages and conditions in the U.S. are typically negotiated between workers and management at individual companies, often location by location. In these settings, workers frequently lack leverage against their employer. However, under AB 257, fast-food workers throughout California will have representatives negotiating on their behalf to set industry-wide standards.
Teukolsky Law would like to congratulate all the fast-food workers, unions, and labor allies that fought and advocated for AB 257. If you are a fast-food worker and believe your employer has violated the law, click here to get in touch with Teukolsky Law.
Lauren Teukolsky to Speak at College of Labor and Employment LawYERS Program Panel on Supreme Court’s decision in Viking River
Lauren Teukolsky has been invited to speak on the issues raised by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana on a panel at the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers (CLEL) Ninth Circuit South regional program. The panel discussion will take place Saturday, September 10th in San Diego. Ms. Teukolsky and her co-panelist, George S. Howard, Jr. of Paul Plevin, will discuss the impact of Viking on PAGA cases, and provide practical advice for attorneys facing Viking issues.
Ms. Teukolsky has fought to protect employee’s rights for over 20 years and is a frequent speaker at conferences on topics of employment law and litigation. She previously discussed the implications of Viking River on a panel for CELA, a statewide organization that works to protect and expand the legal rights of workers. She is also frequently cited in news publications for her commentary on developments in the field and was most recently quoted in a June Bloomberg Law article on the Supreme Court’s decision in Viking River. To learn more about Ms. Teukolsky’s experience, click here.
CLEL is a distinguished body of individuals drawing its membership from the best and brightest lawyers, academics, and scholars in the field of labor and employment Law. After a rigorous selection process, Ms. Teukolsky was elected a CLEL Fellow this past July.
Last month, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals broadened legal protections for transgender workers, ruling in Williams v. Kincaid that gender dysphoria is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the Court’s decision, employers in the Fourth Circuit (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) must provide reasonable accommodations to employees suffering from gender dysphoria. Such accommodations might include offering leave for medical procedures or hormone therapy, as well as modifications to workplace bathroom or dress-code policies.
The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment and access to government services. According to the American Psychiatric Association, gender dysphoria describes an uncomfortable conflict between a person's assigned gender and the gender with which the person identifies.
William v. Kincaid involved Kesha Williams, a trans woman with gender dysphoria who was assigned to men’s housing in a Virginia prison. Williams experienced delays in medical treatment for her gender dysphoria, harassment by other inmates, and persistent and intentional misgendering and harassment by prison deputies. Williams sued several individuals associated with the prison, alleging that their treatment of her was a violation of the ADA. Her claim was dismissed by a district court, but the Fourth Circuit reversed and held that the ADA did not exclude protections for individuals with gender dysphoria, citing the medical community’s updated understanding of gender dysphoria since the passage of the ADA.
Even though the Fourth Circuit’s decision is binding law only in its constituent states, some legal experts have said that the Court’s decision will be relied on by courts outside the Fourth Circuit. Still, many observers believe that other federal appeals courts will rule differently than Williams in the future, leading to a circuit split that could only be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Teukolsky Law has handled numerous employment cases on behalf of transgender individuals, including cases where the employer has failed to provide accommodations for employees undergoing hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery. Contact Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation.
Lauren Teukolsky was quoted in an August 26th article by Law360 about the Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance (HWPO) that recently went into effect in Los Angeles on August 12th. The ordinance seeks to protect Los Angeles’ hotel workers by mandating extra compensation when they are required to clean more than a certain amount of square footage in a given day. The ordinance also requires that they be provided with “panic buttons” given the high rates of sexual assault experienced by hotel workers.
The HWPO requires hotel employers with 45 or more guest rooms to pay their workers double-time rates for all hours worked in a day if they clean more than a certain amount of square footage. For hotels with 45-60 guest rooms, workers must be paid double-time rates if they exceed 4,000 square feet of floor space cleaned in an 8-hour day. At hotels with more than 60 quest rooms, employees must be paid double-time rates if they exceed 3,500 square feet of floor space cleaned. HWPO also requires that hotel employers keep a record of all workers, the rooms they cleaned, the square footage of those rooms and other information and maintain those records for three years. These requirements aim to ensure that hotel workers are fairly compensated for work that is often long and difficult.
The articles states, “Lauren Teukolsky of Teukolsky Law, who has represented hotel workers, said the housekeeping job is onerous and often subject to scheduling changes. ‘You have situations where the hotel employer will require housekeepers to clean a very high number of rooms in their eight-hour shift, and it's very stressful,’ Teukolsky said. ‘It's very difficult for housekeepers to meet the quotas that are imposed,’” among other quotes from Ms. Teukolsky.
If you are a hotel worker in Los Angeles and believe that your employer may be violating the Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance, click here to get in touch with Teukolsky Law.
UNITE HERE Local 11, a labor union representing hospitality workers across southern California, announced today that the Chateau Marmont, one of the most famed hotels in the United States, has agreed to formally recognize a labor union for the first time in its 93 year history. Local 11’s bargaining committee will soon start negotiations for the union’s first contract with the Chateau.
A joint memo from Local 11 and the Chateau states: “The Chateau Marmont and UNITE HERE Local 11 have reached an understanding that will allow the hotel to return to its normal level of operations. To reach this mutually beneficial position, the hotel and union agreed upon a fair process that determined whether a majority of workers in certain classifications have chosen the union as their representative. A neutral arbitrator validated the results and the hotel recognized the union. All prior disputes have been laid to rest.”
Teukolsky Law would like to congratulate the Chateau’s courageous workers and Local 11 on their incredible achievement.
San Bernardino Amazon workers walk off the job, demanding higher pay and improved working conditions
On Monday, August 15, dozens of San Bernardino Amazon warehouse workers at the company’s largest air freight facility on the West Coast walked off the job, seeking higher pay and safer working conditions. The work stoppage is the product of months of organizing by an independent group of warehouse workers called Inland Empire Amazon Workers United. The group has received organizing assistance from the Warehouse Worker Resource Center (WWRC) and Teamsters Local 1932, two local labor organizations.
This past July, members of the independent warehouse workers group delivered a petition with more than 800 signatures to the air hub’s management. The petition outlined how average rent prices in San Bernardino would require a full-time Amazon air hub worker earning a starting wage of $17 an hour to pay roughly 75 percent of their monthly income post-taxes on rent.
Workers at the San Bernardino facility have also expressed concern about brutal working conditions caused by excessive heat, especially during the summer months when temperatures at the airport regularly reach 95 degrees.
The walkout is part of a broader wave of labor organizing campaigns across the country at Amazon warehouses. In April, employees at a massive Amazon warehouse in Staten Island voted by a wide margin to form a union, the first successful unionization attempt by Amazon workers in the company’s history. Since then, at least two other Amazon facilities have either held a vote to form a union or are nearing a vote. San Bernardino workers who participated in the stoppage on Monday don’t have immediate plans to file for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board, but said they would consider filing for a formal election in the future.
Teukolsky Law stands in solidarity with the brave warehouse workers in San Bernardino who are willing to put their jobs on the line to improve working conditions and wages not only for themselves, but for all of their fellow workers. If you are an Amazon worker who has been treated unlawfully at work, contact Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation.
Lauren Teukolsky’s “Wage and Hour Case Notes” were published in the July 2022 edition of the California Labor and Employment Review, describing seven new decisions from California and U.S. appellate courts that affect wage and hour law. The column discusses whether trial courts may dismiss PAGA claims on manageability grounds, the proper application of the exclusive concurrent jurisdiction doctrine, a district court’s error in determining whether CAFA jurisdictional threshold was met, the proper application of the “ABC” test in jury instructions, and a good-faith defense to the imposition of waiting time penalties.
Wage-and-hour law is a dynamic field, with new appellate decisions that regularly reshape the legal landscape. Ms. Teukolsky is an expert in California wage-and-hour law, and speaks regularly on wage-and-hour topics at national and state conferences.
If you would like to consult with Ms. Teukolsky on a wage-and-hour matter, use this page to get in touch.
On July 18, Lauren Teukolsky spoke on a panel entitled, "Navigating PAGA's Choppy Waters: Viking River Cruises and Other Threats to PAGA." The panel was presented as part of the Annual Advanced Wage & Hour Seminar put on by the California Lawyers Employment Association (CELA), an organization of more than 1,200 plaintiff-side employment attorneys. Ms. Teukolsky was joined by Michael Rubin, a partner at Altshuler Berzon in San Francisco, and Mariko Yoshihara, CELA's Legislative Counsel & Policy Director.
The panel discussed the history of the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) leading up to the Supreme Court's June 2022 decision in Moriana v Viking River Cruises, the strategy pursued by the plaintiffs' attorneys going into briefing and oral argument, the various aspects of the opinion (including Justice Sotomayor's brilliant concurrence), post-Viking developments, and practical advice for plaintiffs' attorneys facing post-Viking motions to compel arbitration in PAGA cases.
Ms. Teukolsky has frequently spoken on topics related to PAGA and arbitration, including at the California State Bar's Advanced Wage & Hour Conference and LACBA's Labor & Employment Symposium. She is available to consult on cases raising complex post-Viking issues and to assist with briefing. Contact us here if you would like to explore retaining Ms. Teukolsky.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.