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Legal Roundup: Employment & Workers’ Compensation Issues

Viking River Decision is a Victory for California Employers

In an 8-1 decision on June 15, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Viking River Cruises in a case deciding whether the company could compel a former employee to arbitrate her claims brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) in lieu of litigation. In short, the Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) can preclude representative non-individual PAGA claims based on an otherwise enforceable arbitration agreement.

Corinne Spencer spoke with Law360 explaining that the takeaway is “arbitration agreements in California are now more rock solid, in terms of the protections that they offer to employers and defendants.” Workers who haven’t agreed to arbitrate will likely still bring class action and PAGA representative claims, but “if there are arbitration agreements that the plaintiffs’ attorneys learn about, then I imagine they won’t be trying to pursue class action or PAGA claims.” Read more about the Court’s decision.

For more information, request to view the firm’s “Future of Employment Arbitration” webinar on how California employers can comply with the Court’s decision and how to ensure arbitration agreements are enforceable. Questions? Contact Corinne Spencer with the Employment Law Department at cds@4pbw.com.

How See’s Candies Changed Employer Liability to Third Parties

In See’s Candies v. Superior Court, a See’s employee and her daughters filed a wrongful death suit against the candy maker claiming the employee contracted COVID at work due to the company’s failure to implement adequate safety measures, and then transmitted the virus to her husband, who passed away. Recently, the California Supreme Court denied See’s Candies’ request to review an appellate court decision that the derivative injury doctrine does not shield employers from civil liability to third parties for “take-home COVID” cases.

While this case may pave the way for negligence claims by third-party family members and even non-family members, non-employee plaintiffs face an uphill battle in proving they were owed a duty of care. Read more about the issue here.

Reducing Risk of Snowballing Workers’ Comp Claims

What starts out as a seemingly simple workers’ compensation claim can quickly snowball into a crossover employment action in California. Corinne Spencer and Antwoin Wall spoke to Business Law Today and HR Dive on ways to prevent crossover risk by using a “three step process” that every employer should take when a work-related injury occurs.

Read both articles here: Business Law Today and HR Dive.

 

Legal Advice: “Disclose Everything Upfront”

In the San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s 2022 Law Firm’s Special Report, Antwoin Wall shared how the pandemic has changed the firm and offered advice for clients and those looking to become a lawyer. Read the full feature here.
Do Discovery Provisions in the Code of Civil Procedure Apply in Workers’ Comp Cases?

PB&W analyzes this question and concludes that “although the civil law discovery provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure do not govern proceedings before the Appeals Board, they nevertheless provide the parties and the Appeals Board with guidance when determining how best to accomplish substantial justice in specific cases.” Learn more here.

IRS Mileage Reimbursement Rate Increases in July

The rate for business travel increased from 58.5 cents per mile to 62.5 cents per mile as of July 1, 2022.

DWC’s Updated Copy Service Schedule Regulations

The new fee schedule took effect on July 15, 2022. The flat rate fee for records has increased from $180 to $230. More details about the new fee schedule here.

PB&W In the Spotlight

Yvonne Lang & Anahid Silah Named to San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s Women of Influence: Attorneys 2022 List

Recognized as two of the Valley region’s most influential women in the legal profession, Senior Partner Yvonne Lang and Partner Anahid Silah have been named to San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s Women of Influence: Attorneys 2022 list. Learn more here.

Meet Employment Attorney Jonathan Brown

Attorney Jonathan Brown focuses on litigating discrimination, wrongful termination and wage and hour law cases. He also counsels employers in all facets of the employee-employer relationship with the goal of helping companies minimize their risk. Away from work, Jonathan enjoys playing music, golfing, rooting on the Lakers and spending time with his family.

Introducing the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee

Led by co-chairs Ada Rodriguez and Antwoin Wall, with additional members Justin Borska, Saerim Luciano and Edwin Alvarez, the committee’s goal is to further create and sustain a diverse, equal and inclusive environment in which all people thrive.

The committee plans to highlight different cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds by marking diversity events. Members aim to continue to expand the committee and have a meaningful impact on employee recruitment, retention and satisfaction.

Read the firm’s spotlight feature on Ada and Antwoin and read about the committee’s mission here.

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