Hospitality Labor and Employment Law Blog

Hospitality Labor and Employment Law Blog

Category Archives: Class Actions

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California Supreme Court Opens the Door to Class Action Waivers, Shuts Door to Waiver of Representative Actions

By Marisa S. Ratinoff and Amy B. Messigian

One of the main battlegrounds between employers and employees relates to the ability of employers to preclude class actions by way of arbitration agreements containing class action waivers. In California, the seminal case of Gentry v. Superior Court (“Gentry”) has had the practical effect of invalidating class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements since 2007. Gentry held that an employment class action waiver was unenforceable as a matter of California public policy if the class action waiver would “undermine the vindication of the employees’ unwaivable statutory rights” under the Labor …Continue Reading

Will California Restaurants Have To Provide Seats To Hosts, Hostesses And Line Cooks? Will Hotels Have To Provide Seats To Their Front Desk Staffs?

By Michael Kun

Several years ago, employees in California began filing class action lawsuits against their employers alleging violations of the “suitable seating” provision buried in the state’s Wage Orders.  The unique provision requires some employers to provide “suitable seating” to some employees when the “nature of their work” would “reasonably permit it.” 

The use of multiple sets of quotation marks in the previous sentence should give readers a good idea just how little guidance employers have about the obscure law.  

The California Supreme Court is now poised to explain what that obscure law means for those employers who …Continue Reading

Playing with Employees’ Hours Could Get You in Hot Water under the ACA and FLSA

By:  Kara Maciel, Adam Solander and Lindsay Smith

As the Employer Mandate compliance deadline looms for employers under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and employers are closely monitoring employee hours, it is critical that employers take appropriate and lawful steps to record all hours worked by an employee.  If employers try to play games and manipulate how time records are maintained, they could find themselves in hot water under both the ACA and the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). 

In what appears to be one of the first lawsuits challenging how hours are recorded under the ACA, an employee …Continue Reading

Take 5 Views You Can Use: Wage and Hour Update

By:  Kara M. Maciel

The following is a selection from the Firm’s October Take 5 Views You Can Use which discusses recent developments in wage hour law affecting the hospitality industry.

IRS Will Begin Taxing a Restaurant’s Automatic Gratuities as Service Charges

Many restaurants include automatic gratuities on the checks of guests with large parties to ensure that servers get fair tips. This method allows the restaurant to calculate an amount into the total bill, but it takes away a customer’s discretion in choosing whether and/or how much to tip the server. As a result of this removal of a …Continue Reading

ADA Compliance: Implications for Owners and Managers When Acquiring or Developing New Lodging Facilities

On September 18, 2013, our hospitality practice attorneys, Kara Maciel and Mark Trapp, have the pleasure of speaking at the Lodging Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona on key financial and legal issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act impacting hotel owners and managers when acquiring, selling, developing or managing properties. 

Under the 2010 ADA Standards, which became effective in March of 2012, hotels must take steps to remove access barriers for individuals with disabilities. The new federal standards encompass some key changes for hotel owners, operators and developers.   Our Round Table discussion will focus on hot-button issues facing the hotel industry, including:…Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Rules That Employees Need Not “Request” A Seat Under California’s Obscure “Suitable Seating” Law

By Michael Kun

We have written previously in this blog about California’s obscure “suitable seating” law, which requires that some employers provide “suitable seating” to some employees.

In short, the plaintiffs’ bar recently discovered a provision buried in California’s Wage Orders requiring employers to provide “suitable seating” to employees when the nature of their jobs would reasonably permit it. The provision was not designed to cover employees in the hospitality industry who often stand to show that they are ready to assist customers. Instead, it was written to cover employees who normally worked in a seated position with equipment, machinery …Continue Reading

New Jersey to Propose Gender-Equality Notice Rules for Employers

by Maxine H. Neuhauser and Amy E. Hatcher

On January 7, 2013, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (the “Department”) published in the New Jersey Register proposed new rules and notification language to implement a recently enacted law intended to fight gender inequity and bias in the workplace. The notice of proposal is available for downloading here.

The law, which became effective on November 19, 2012, requires every employer in New Jersey with 50 or more employees to post a notice advising employees of their right to be free from gender inequity or bias in pay, compensation, …Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Confirms That Time Rounding Is Permissible

By Michael Kun and Aaron Olsen

Agreeing with the recent federal district court opinion in our case Alonzo v. MAXIMUS, Inc., 832 F.Supp.2d 1122, 1126 (2011), the California Court of Appeals has confirmed in a case against See’s Candy that California employers may round employees’ time entries so long as the employer’s rounding policy does not consistently result in a failure to pay employees for time worked.

In Alonzo, a federal district court granted summary judgment in favor of our client MAXIMUS, Inc. on the plaintiffs’ time rounding claims. The Alonzo Court explained that the federal standards regarding …Continue Reading

New California Supreme Court Decision Will Affect Whether And When Parties Obtain Witness Statements In Litigation, Particularly In Class Actions

By Michael Kun

On Monday, June 25, 2011, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Coito v. Superior Court, addressing the issue of whether a party in litigation could rely upon the work product doctrine to withhold witness statements obtained by its attorneys or the identities of persons who had given such statements. 

In short, while parties in California have long relied upon dicta in the Court of Appeal decision known as  Nacht v. Lewis for the proposition that such information is protected from disclosure by the work product doctrine, case-by-case determinations will now be required …Continue Reading

California Court Denies Certification of Misclassification, Meal Period and Rest Period Claims against Joe’s Crab Shack Restaurants

By Kara Maciel and Aaron Olsen

After five years of litigation, a Los Angeles Superior Court has denied class certification of a class action against Joe’s Crab Shack Restaurants on claims that its managers were misclassified as exempt and denied meal and rest periods in violation of California law.  The court found that the plaintiffs had not established adequacy of class representatives, typicality, commonality or superiority, and emphasized a defendant’s due process right to provide individualized defenses to class members’ claims.

Because the case was handled by our colleagues in our Los Angeles office, we think it best not to …Continue Reading

Mandatory Employee Arbitration Agreements: The NLRB Throws a Wrench into Their Enforceability

By:  Forrest G. Read, IV

Arbitration agreements can be an effective way for employers in the hospitality industry to streamline and isolate an employee’s potential claims on an individual basis and protect themselves from a proliferation of lawsuits with many plaintiffs or claimants. But the National Labor Relations Board’s (“Board”) January 6, 2012 decision in D.R. Horton, Inc. and Michael Cuda, notably finalized by two Board Members on departing Member Craig Becker’s final day, has caused significant confusion as to how employers can enforce such arbitration agreements with their employees over employment claims, including wage and hour disputes. 

In D.R. …Continue Reading

Employers in California Can Tone Down Their Celebrations about the U.S. Supreme Court Decisions In Wal-Mart and Concepcion

By Michael Kun

               Understandably, employers have celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes and AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion.  At the very least, those cases would seem to suggest that the wage-hour class actions and collective actions that have besieged employers might be curtailed significantly, along with the costly settlements triggered by the in terrorem effect of such lawsuits.

               California employers can stop celebrating, or at least tone down those celebrations.

               Unlike other states, California law provides for a mechanism by which employees can file suit on behalf of other employees without …Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Labor to Refer Employees to Plaintiffs’ Lawyers

by Michael Kun and Doug Weiner

It is no secret that employers have been beseiged by wage-hour litigation, including wage-hour class actions and collective actions.   These lawsuits have hit the hospitality industry as hard as any other industry, perhaps harder.

It is also no secret that the persons who benefit most from these actions are often plaintiffs’ counsel, who frequently receive one-third or more of any recovery.  

Now, as a result of an unprecedented new program initiated by the the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division ("WHD"), the WHD will be practically delivering potential plaintiffs to the doors of …Continue Reading

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