Earlier this month, the Fourth District Court of Appeal out of San Diego, California, released a decision which favors a longstanding plaintiffs’ argument regarding release waivers. California Civil Code Section 1542 prevents a party from inadvertently waiving unknown claims merely by signing a “general release.” However, employers will often include a provision in settlement agreements with which employees waive their “1542 rights” and by signing the settlement agreement, the plaintiff agrees that the settlement disposes of all known and unknown claims as way to keep former employees from bringing any lawsuits over any issue, with narrow exceptions, going forward.

Over 100 Flower and Garden Center Employees Arrested by ICE in Ohio

Last Tuesday, ICE arrested 114 employees of Corso’s Flower and Garden Center (“Corso’s”) in Sandusky and Castalia, Ohio, making this the largest immigration arrest in ICE’s Northeastern region in the last decade according to this article on CNN. This raid comes two months after 97 immigrants were arrested at a meat-processing plant in Tennessee as we reported on here.

As we briefly reported on here, the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) ruled Monday that arbitration agreements that force workers to sign away their rights to pursue class and representative action claims are legal, rejecting the National Labor Relations Board’s position that class waivers violate federal labor law.

In 1925, Congress passed the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), which (among other things) provides that an agreement to arbitrate a dispute “shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable.” Ten years later, Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), which makes clear that employees have the right to work together for “mutual aid and protection.” SCOTUS’ decision resolved a trio of cases involving Epic Systems Corp., Murphy Oil USA Inc., and Ernst & Young, LLP. In each case, an employee who signed an arbitration agreement with a class action waiver filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking to bring both individual and collective claims and not arbitrate their individual claims as required by the arbitration agreement. The employers argued that, under the terms of the arbitration agreements, the employees needed to pursue their claims on an individual basis in arbitration.

We have been notified of a few instances where California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (“CRLAF”) agents have been encountered entering farms and ranches, taking photos, and threatening to file complaints with Cal/OSHA when asked to leave. They have also been seen handing out flyers like these in and near workers’ housing areas. Additionally, on at least one occasion, they have represented themselves as being “with the State,” in order to invoke the cover of State authority to justify their unlawful presence. One such individual, after finally admitting that he worked for the CRLAF, claimed he was “investigating human trafficking issues.”

Earlier today, the Supreme Court issued an important decision in the Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis case, holding that the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) does not create for employees a right to class actions. This means that arbitration agreements between employers and employees containing a class action waiver are enforceable.

ICE Update

In a sweep during the second week of April, ICE arrested 225 people in New York City, according to this article in the Daily News. Similar to much of California, New York is a “sanctuary” city, and, like the recent California sweep we covered here, there were several arrests of people who had no outstanding criminal charges or convictions, which ICE calls “collateral arrests.” A statement from ICE Acting Director Tom Homan in October made clear that the agency believes it has “no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites.”

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