Lauren Teukolsky was quoted in a Wednesday Bloomberg Law article about a recent Ninth Circuit opinion that discuss the effects of the California Supreme Court’s decision in Adolph v. Uber on PAGA cases proceeding in federal court. The Ninth Circuit ruled that federal courts are bound to follow the California Supreme Court’s interpretation of PAGA standing, and do not need to follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s mistaken interpretation of PAGA standing in its 2022 Viking River Cruises decision.
In the Circuit Court’s decision, Judge Kenneth Kiyul Lee stated in his concurring opinion that arbitration proceedings under PAGA may not constitute a “full and fair opportunity to litigate,” thus offering a potential exception to arbitration proceedings’ preclusive effect on their associated court proceedings. In other words, if an employer were to receive a worker-friendly ruling from an arbitrator, that ruling may not have bearing on the analogous issues the employer is litigating in court.
How much of an effect Judge Lee’s opinion will have on California’s employment law landscape is still unclear. In Bloomberg Law’s article, Ms. Teukolsky says that the state’s appeals courts are still divided on the issue and have yet to “’squarely’” consider whether individual PAGA arbitration findings will impact group PAGA claims.
“’It’s too soon,’” Ms. Teukolsky says in the article.
The article also includes Ms. Teukolsky’s commentary on how Judge Lee’s opinion might be interpreted for the benefit of workers:
“The logic in Lee’s concurring opinion could also help claimants wield the ‘full and fair opportunity to litigate’ argument against adverse arbitration findings when their group PAGA claims unfold in court, Teukolsky said.”
Ms. Teukolsky has represented workers for over two decades and her commentary on the latest developments in employment law is regularly featured by major publications such as Bloomberg Law, Law360, Law.com, and the Los Angeles Times.
To access the Bloomberg Law article in its entirety, click here. To learn more about Ms. Teukolsky’s practice and get in touch with the firm, click here.
Legal Dive quoted Lauren Teukolsky last week in an article discussing the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new independent contractor rule. The long-awaited rule was released on January 9th and replaces the DOL’s Trump-era guidance as to employee and independent contractor classification.
The issue of classification has become especially important over the past five to ten years as the American “gig economy” has taken off. With the rise of companies such as Uber and DoorDash, more employers are utilizing workforces that consist of independent contractors. From employers’ perspectives, the development is positive, as it allows them to avoid expenses associated with employees, such as worker’s comp insurance. For employees, however, failure by their employers to properly classify them as employees frequently means a denial of basic workplace rights such as minimum wage, overtime, and paid leave.
The DOL’s new rule seeks to reduce the risk that employees are misclassified as independent contractors by instituting provisions it believes are more consistent with judicial precedent than those previously put in place during the Trump administration. Legal Dive’s article begins with commentary from Ms. Teukolsky on how corporations may need to navigate the new rule, which is set to go into effect on March 11:
“’You need to assume that most of your workers are employees, unless it’s pretty clear that they’re not, and not the other way around,’ said Lauren Teukolsky, who represents workers at Teukolsky Law. ‘It’s definitely the safest course.’”
Ms. Teukolsky also commented that the Trump-era rule deviated from longstanding employment-law principles, and the DOL’s new rule represents a return to the well-established legal principles that existed for decades.
To read Legal Dive’s article in its entirety, click here. To learn more about Ms. Teukolsky and Teukolsky Law, click here.
Lauren Teukolsky was quoted in a Thursday Law360 article on California’s newest U.S. senator, Laphonza Butler. Butler was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom and sworn in earlier this month to fill the seat of Dianne Feinstein, who passed away after representing California on Capitol Hill for over three decades. The Law 360 article discusses Senator Butler’s background, and her mixed experience regarding workers’ rights.
Butler’s greatest achievement for California’s workers came during her time as president of SEIU (Service Employees International Union) Local 2015, where she helped with the “fight for $15,” a movement that led to 2016 California legislation that eventually increased the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Afterwards, however, Butler joined the private sector and worked for Uber, a company that has gone to great lengths to avoid having to classify its drivers as employees.
The corporate background has led to some concerns regarding Butler’s commitment to workers. In Law360’s article, Ms. Teukolsky expressed cautious optimism about Butler:
“’Her time working in corporate America was relatively brief, if you look at the entirety of her career,’ Teukolsky said. ‘She does seem to be progressive and have workers' rights at the forefront, and hopefully whatever time she spent working for Uber was an aberration or a blip.’”
To read the Law360 article in its entirety, click here. To learn more about Lauren Teukolsky and Teukolsky Law, click here.
Lauren Teukolsky will speak on a Beverly Hills Bar Association (BHBA) webinar on August 22 on the future of California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) following the state’s highly anticipated Supreme Court ruling in Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc.. Chris Jalian, a Partner at Paul Hastings, LLP, will join Ms. Teukolsky on the webinar. Nazgole Hashemi, Co-Founder of LegalAxxis, Inc., will serve as moderator for the event.
The webinar will examine what the Adolph v. Uber ruling means for employees and employers, with Ms. Teukolsky representing the employees’ perspective and Mr. Jalian representing the employers’ perspective. In the ruling, the Court held that California’s workers could continue to pursue PAGA labor claims on behalf of their coworkers even if their individual labor claims were forced into arbitration. Experts considered the ruling to be a big win for the state’s workers.
Ms. Teukolsky’s commentary on Adolph v. Uber was previously featured in several articles by Bloomberg Law and Law.com.
The BHBA’s Labor and Employment section will present the webinar. The section provides a forum for labor and employment attorneys and neutrals to network, share ideas, and learn about the latest issues and trends in the field.
The webinar will take place on Tuesday, August 22 from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm PT via ZOOM. To register, 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.
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Last week, Bloomberg Law cited research by Lauren Teukolsky in an article about oral arguments in Moriana v. Viking River Cruises, Inc., a pivotal Supreme Court case that was sent back to the California Court of Appeal for further action. The appellate court’s decision could have vast repercussions for lawsuits brought under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”).
Since SCOTUS’s Viking River decision, Ms. Teukolsky’s research shows that California courts have consistently rejected employer arguments that representative PAGA claims must be dismissed once the “individual” component of the plaintiff’s PAGA claim has been sent to arbitration. Bloomberg Law’s article states:
“California trial courts dismissed representative claims after moving individual claims into arbitration in just six of 75 decisions collected and analyzed by Lauren Teukolsky of the plaintiff-side firm Teukolsky Law APC. Bloomberg Law independently reviewed those decisions.”
Ms. Teukolsky’s updated numbers show an even greater trend in favor of employees.
Viking River and the fate of PAGA have been on the forefront of labor and employment experts’ minds for the past several years. In addition to her commentary on the issue for news outlets such as Bloomberg Law and the Daily Journal, Ms. Teukolsky has also 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, as well as for the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, the preeminent peer-selected organization of labor and employment lawyers in the United States.
To read the article on Bloomberg Law, click here. To get in touch with Teukolsky Law, click here.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.