Lauren Teukolsky to Discuss Hot Topics in Employment Settlement Agreements for Labor and Employment Relations Panel
On April 26, 2023, Lauren Teukolsky will discuss hot topics in employment settlement agreements for a program put on by the Southern California Labor and Employment Relations Association (SoCal LERA). Ms. Teukolsky will be joined by fellow panelists Jonathan Judge, a partner at Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, and Jade M. Brewster, an associate at Jackson Lewis. The panel will be moderated by Angela J. Reddock-Wright, a mediator at Signature Resolution.
The webinar’s focus will be confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions in settlements and separation agreements, a subject that has taken on increased complexity in light of the recent McLaren Macomb decision from the National Labor Relations Board.
Ms. Teukolsky’s commentary on the decision was recently featured in an article by Law360. Ms. Teukolsky has also written about employment settlement agreements for Advocate Magazine.
SoCal LERA is a regional chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association, an organization where Human Resources professions and attorneys from both sides of the aisle share ideas and learn about new developments and practices in the field.
To sign up for the webinar, click here. To learn more about Ms. Teukolsky and her practice, click here. If you’re an employee and believe you’re being treated unlawfully, click here to get in touch with our office.
Lauren Teukolsky Quoted in Law360 article on the Future of NDAs in Severance Agreements
Lauren Teukolsky’s commentary was featured this week in a Law360 article discussing the future of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in severance agreements in light of the National Labor Relations Board’s recent ruling in McLaren Macomb. In McLaren Macomb, the NLRB found that offering severance agreements to employees that include NDAs and non-disparagement clauses is unlawful because doing so dissuades them from engaging in employee activity that is protected by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, such as discussing their working conditions or pay.
Following the NLRB’s decision, however, some attorneys have expressed skepticism that employers will tailor their severance agreements to comply with the NLRB’s ruling. Ms. Teukolsky discussed her own experience with severance agreements in California following the state’s implementation of laws to restrict the use of NDAs and non-disparagement:
“’After California passed its own restrictions, what I'm seeing is employers will continue to include very broad nondisparagement provisions, and then they'll have a carveout’ stating that nothing in the agreement is intended to violate the law, Teukolsky said. ‘And when I come back and say, 'This nondisparagement is too broad,' they say, 'Well, we have a carveout.’'"
The NLRB decision, along with the General Counsel’s memo about the decision, suggest that carveouts are not sufficient to overcome the chilling effect of NDAs and non-disparagement provisions. The memo states: “It is critical to remember that public statements by employees about the workplace are central to the exercise of employees’ rights under the Act.”
The McLaren Macomb decision is a victory for workers that should be celebrated. Employers act at their peril if they continue to include overly-broad NDAs and non-disparagement provisions in any contract they ask an employee to sign, whether it be an employment agreement signed on hire, a severance agreement offered to a laid-off employee, or a settlement agreement to settle claims that have been filed.
To read the article in its entirety, click here. If you have questions about a severance agreement you’ve received and want to get in touch with our office, click here.
Lauren Teukolsky expressed support for President Biden’s nominee for Labor Secretary, Julie Su, in a recent Law360 article exploring business groups’ opposition to the President’s pick.
Su was nominated to replace former Labor Department Secretary Marty Walsh, who left his post in March to take over as head of the National Hockey League (NHL) Players’ Association. Su served as Deputy Labor Secretary prior to Walsh’s departure and has worked as the acting secretary of the Labor Department since Walsh’s announcement.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Su is expected to continue the pro-union and pro-worker stance the department has taken since the start of the Biden administration, much to the distress of some business groups.
Business groups have cited Su’s backing of A.B. 5, a 2020 California bill that extended employee classification status to some gig workers, as one of the primary reasons for their opposition. In the Law360 article Ms. Teukolsky argues the business groups’ blame may be misplaced:
“‘The California Legislature passed A.B. 5,’ she said. ‘It's not like Julie Su single-handedly implemented the law.’”
Ms. Teukolsky, who worked with Su in the late 1990s on California's A.B. 633, which installed wage protections for garment workers, also had this to say on Su’s nomination:
“’I don't think there's any doubt that Julie Su is eminently qualified to be the next secretary of labor,’ Teukolsky said. ‘California has the fifth-largest economy in the world, so I think any criticism that Julie Su's policies or practices somehow undermine the strength of California's economy is absurd.’”
Ms. Teukolsky was previously asked to provide her thoughts on Su in a February Law360 article on her nomination. For that article, click here. For Law360’s recent article on Su’s nomination, click here.
Finally, if you’d like to get in touch with our office, click here.
Lauren Teukolsky’s commentary was featured in a recent Law360 article on the Ninth Circuit’s recent ruling that California’s A.B. 51 is preempted by federal law. AB 51 prohibited employers from forcing employees to give up their civil rights, such as the right to a jury trial and the right to appeal an adverse decision, as a condition of employment. The ruling, a reversal of the Ninth Circuit’s own prior decision in 2021, is a significant blow to the state’s workers.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed A.B. 51 into law in 2019, making it illegal for employers to force individuals to waive their right to bring civil rights cases in court as a condition of employment. Arbitration agreements typically stipulate that all claims made by workers—regardless of their severity—must be resolved under private arbitration, a process that overwhelmingly favors employers, disproportionately harms historically marginalized communities, and shields corporations from public scrutiny and accountability. A.B. 51 was meant to ensure that employees were not coerced into signing away their rights, and that all waivers of these significant rights were voluntary.
Last year, a three judge Ninth Circuit panel voted to revisit a 2021 decision in which it partially reversed an injunction that stopped California from enforcing A.B. 51. Last month, the panel found that the Federal Arbitration Act preempted A.B. 51, nullifying the law in most situations and allowing California’s corporations to once again force workers to sign arbitration agreements waiving their civil rights.
Law360’s article features analysis and advice from management-side and workers- side attorneys on how corporations and workers’ advocates should respond to the Ninth Circuit’s decision. In the article, Ms. Teukolsky advises plaintiffs’ lawyers to be extremely cautious when advising clients on arbitration agreements:
"’Plaintiff-side employment attorneys need to think very carefully before they advise an employee to refuse to sign one of these arbitration agreements,’ Teukolsky said. ‘I think you need to advise them: you may lose your job over this. Is that a risk you're willing to take?’" Ms. Teukolsky speaks from experience: she filed one of the only cases under A.B. 51 after her client was fired for expressing opposition to signing away her rights.
To read the article in its entirety, click here. For the Court’s opinion holding that A.B. 51 is preempted, click here.
If you have concerns about an arbitration agreement your employer has recently asked you to sign, click here to get in touch with our office.
Lauren Teukolsky’s commentary was featured in a recent Law360 article discussing how California plans to handle wage complaints stemming from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). SVB catered to the tech industry for decades before collapsing and being seized by regulators on March 10, 2023. Its collapse made it the largest lender to fail since the 2008 financial crisis and left many of its depositors scrambling to make payroll.
Following SBV’s collapse, the California agency that enforces the Labor Code sent an email to employment defense firm Littler Mendelson providing them with assurances that any employers affected by the bank collapse who attempted in good faith to make payroll would not be subject to penalties for late wage payments. The agency said that it would divert any claims filed by employees under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) related to the bank collapse, effectively preventing private lawsuits against employers from moving forward.
While employers and management-side law firms breathe a sigh of relief, workers’ attorneys have voiced concerns that employees need similar protections because many of them live paycheck to paycheck and may default on their own obligations if they don’t get paid. Employees may not be able to pay rent or make minimum payments on credit card bills, leading to the imposition of monetary penalties. The bank failure raises the question: who should bear the risk of a bank default, the employer who controls where the funds are kept, or the employee? Law360’s article states:
“’Banking crises generally can lead to significant impacts on workers,’ said Lauren Teukolsky of Teukolsky Law. ‘It's all well and good for the LWDA to say that employers will be protected. I would like to see similar kinds of protections for employees.’
Teukolsky added, ‘Bank failures are not novel at this point, and so I would hope that employers have some contingency plan for having some cash on hand to make their next payroll.’”
To read the Law360 article in its entirety, click here. To get in touch with Teukolsky Law, click here.
Law360 quoted Lauren Teukolsky in a February 28 article on the recent nomination of Julie Su to be the next Secretary of Labor. Su has served as Deputy Labor Secretary since 2021, helping oversee the Department of Labor. Before that, Su was head of California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency and was considered a Labor Secretary candidate, though President Biden ultimately nominated Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for the position. Walsh is leaving to head the National Hockey League’s players’ union.
Under Walsh, the Labor Department supported organized labor and workers through a series of regulatory and legislative actions. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Su is expected to continue the Department’s pro-union and pro-worker stance while also stepping up federal enforcement in the areas of worker classification, independent contractor status, and wage and hour issues. Su is President Biden’s first Asian American cabinet secretary.
Worker attorneys and workers’ advocates have voiced near unanimous support for Su’s nomination. Law360’s article reads as follows:
“Lauren Teukolsky of California-based Teukolsky Law said she has known Su since at least 1998, when Teukolsky was a law student and Su was litigation director of the group now known as Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California. At the time, the two of them worked on California's Assembly Bill 633, which implemented wage protections for garment workers.
‘Julie's idea was to extend liability for the wages beyond the contractor, beyond the direct employer, to bigger companies that were higher up the food chain, including garment manufacturers and even, in some instances, garment retailers,’ Teukolsky said.
‘It really demonstrates how she is able to think creatively about a labor enforcement problem in a way that other advocates haven't necessarily thought of before,’ Teukolsky said. ‘She just has this ability to problem-solve and use a mix of legislation, advocacy, court rulings, advocacy in the courtroom, just to use all of these different tools as problem-solver.’”
Teukolsky Law congratulates Julie Su on her historic nomination. To learn more, click here to read the Law360 article in its entirety.
Lauren Teukolsky Quoted by Bloomberg Law & Law360 on Landmark Class Action Filing
Lauren Teukolsky was quoted by Bloomberg Law and Law360 in a pair of articles discussing the class action lawsuit Teukolsky Law filed Wednesday against Hyatt for violating a law meant to protect hotel cleaning staff from being overworked and underpaid. The lawsuit is believed to be the first in the country brought under a “housekeepers bill of rights” law. Ms. Teukolsky represents the plaintiffs along with Zoe Tucker of UNITE HERE Local 11.
“Housekeeper’s bill of rights” laws broadly refer to laws created specifically to protect hotel cleaning staff from abuses at the workplace, including but not limited to wage theft and sexual harassment. The lawsuit filed by Ms. Teukolsky alleges that Hyatt violated the Long Beach Hotel Working Conditions Ordinance when it failed to pay hotel room attendants the required double wages they were owed for cleaning more than 4,000 square feet in a single day, among other violations.
Laws similar to Long Beach’s have been passed in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Seattle, in what has become a national trend of local municipalities stepping in to protect workers when their states and the federal government fail to.
Bloomberg Law’s article reads:
“’The voters of Long Beach passed a hotel workload ordinance to guarantee hardworking room attendants a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,’ Teukolsky said in a statement. ‘As we say in the lawsuit, Hyatt has been flouting the law since the day it was passed.’”
In the Law360 article, Ms. Teukolsky states the following :
"Hotels are on notice that they can't cheat workers out of their wages with impunity.”
To read the Bloomberg Law article in its entirety, click here. To read the Law360 article in its entirety, click here.
If you believe that you have not been paid proper wages, click here to get in touch with our office.
Law360 Quotes Lauren Teukolsky in Article about LA’s new Fair Work Week Ordinance
Law360 quoted Lauren Teukolsky in an article published earlier this month discussing Los Angeles’s new Fair Work Week Ordinance. The new law was passed by LA City Council in late November and seeks to alleviate the negative impacts that unpredictable workweeks have on thousands of Angelenos working in the retail sector.
A UCLA study released in 2018 found that 8 in 10 retail workers have fluctuating workweeks over which they have no control. This level of unpredictability makes caring for children, elderly parents, budgeting, and attending classes more difficult and can lead to financial insecurity.
The ordinance requires retailers to notify employees of their work schedule at least 14 calendar days in advance of the start of the work period. It also bans retailers from compelling employees to change work locations or hours after their work schedule has been published without first getting the employee’s consent. Employees who consent to a change are entitled to an additional hour of pay at their regular rate.
The ordinance also requires retailers provide premium pay to employees who have 10 hours or less between shifts. Retailers must also offer work to current employees before hiring employees or contractors to take on the additional work.
Only retailers in the city of Los Angeles with 300 or more employees globally must adhere to the ordinance’s requirements. However, future legislation may extend the ordinance’s provisions to other industries, as discussed in the article:
“’It will be interesting to see if predictive scheduling in Los Angeles gets expanded to other industries and professions that could benefit from predictive scheduling,’ said worker-side attorney Lauren Teukolsky of Teukolsky Law, who is based in the Los Angeles area.”
To read the Law360 article in its entirety, click here. To learn more about Ms. Teukolsky’s practice and get in touch with our office, click here.
Lauren Teukolsky Quoted in Law360 Article on Los Angeles Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance
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.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.