A California Appeals Court ruling earlier this month sends a reminder to employers that class action settlements aren’t always the end of a matter. The lawsuit began as a class action against U.S. Bancorp for wage-and-hour violations including missed meal and rest breaks, and unpaid overtime wages. Scott Williams joined U.S. Bancorp after the lawsuit had been filed and immediately became a member of the class action lawsuit. With the lawsuit still ongoing, Williams filed a second copycat lawsuit against U.S. Bancorp for the same wage-and-hour violations plus unpaid business expenses. The Court reasonably put Williams’ second lawsuit on hold until the first lawsuit was completed. U.S. Bancorp successfully beat back the first lawsuit winning decertification of the class and eventually settled.

This is a friendly reminder for all Santa Rosa businesses that the local minimum wage will increase on July 1, 2020. For employers with 26 or more employees, the new minimum wage will be $15.00 per hour. For employers with 25 or fewer employees the new minimum wage will be $14.00 per hour. This is an increase from the existing minimum wage rates of $13.00 per hour for 26 or more employees and $12.00 per hour for 25 or fewer employees. Santa Rosa has another scheduled minimum wage increase to take effect on January 1, 2021 which will require employers with 25 or fewer employees to pay at least $15.00 per hour and the minimum wage all employers must pay will be adjusted by a Consumer Price Index (CPI). You can find the Official Notice here.

Reminder on Outdoor Agricultural Lighting Regulations Effective July 1, 2020

By: The Saqui Law Group and Christina Anton

The California Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) approved Cal/OSHA’s new Outdoor Agricultural Operations During Hours of Darkness Standard. The new regulation will become effective on July 1, 2020. You may read the full regulation here.

Agricultural employers working outside in post-sunset and pre-sunset hours must comply with the new regulation, which requires:

  • Trucks, tractors and self-propelled equipment must be equipped with lights illuminating ahead and behind between sunset and sunrise; this is a change from the prior rule which required headlights from one hour after sunset until one hour before sunset. The new rule also added “trucks” to the list of covered equipment;
  • Certain illumination levels, which you may read here.

The California Senate is considering SB-1102 deceptively titled “Employers: Labor Commissioner: required disclosures.” What this Bill would do, in part, is require H-2A employers to compensate employees at their regular rate of pay for: “time spent while being transported by the employer or its agents from the housing provided by the employer or its agents to the employer’s or agent’s worksite.” You can read the text of the Bill here.

Employment arbitration clauses are a valuable method for resolving claims outside of court, but employers must take care not to waive the right to arbitration by failing to follow the proper procedures.  A California appellate court recently held that an employer waived its right to compel an employee to arbitrate his employment law claims, even though the claims were covered by an arbitration clause.

USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for Certain Petitions

By: Nathan Kingery

On May 29, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced it will resume premium processing for I-129 and I-140 petitions throughout the month of June. The agency is also preparing to reopen some domestic offices and resume non-emergency public services on or after June 4. A link to the USCIS announcement can be found here.

As you’ll recall USCIS announced on March 20, 2020, the temporary suspension of premium processing for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions due to COVID-19. USCIS will reboot premium processing for certain visa petitions in phases as follows:

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