The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case Is Not an Invitation to Discriminate

Author: Sean B. Gentry

Yes, as the media widely reported, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the baker in the case about a Colorado cake maker turning away business from a same-sex couple after he told them that he did not design custom cakes for gay couples.  However, rather than making a significant nation-wide ruling, the Court simply held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s consideration of the baker’s case was “compromised” and it had treated him unfairly.  Thus, the ruling in no way opened the door to discrimination for businesses against any persons with protected, immutable characteristics.

In fact, Justice Kennedy wrote that it is “unexceptional” that Colorado law “can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions that are offered to other members of the public.”  The problem was that the Commission did not apply the law “in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”

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Employer Arbitration Clauses Can Waive Class Action Claim

Author: Sean B. Gentry

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that employers can use arbitration clauses in employment contracts to limit their employees’ right to file or participate in class actions lawsuits on wage and hour claims. Employers can require their employees to pursue most types of employment claims in arbitration instead of court and can prevent employees from banding together to more efficiently litigate their claims as a group. For employers that have been waiting to see how the law settled on this matter, or that have been wondering about the validity of arbitration agreements already in place with their employees, it is now clear that these agreements will be enforced as long as they meet certain standards of fairness.

This case, entitled Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, resolved a number of conflicting Circuit Court opinions on this issue that stemmed from the National Labor Relations Board decision 2012 in D.R. Horton, Inc., which found that individual employment arbitration agreements were incompatible with the collection rights of employee under the National Labor Relations Act and that the NLRA was not preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act. However, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court disagreed with that finding and instead held that the FAA preempted the NLRA.

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Changes to the Prop 65 Warnings are Due in August- Does it Apply to You?

Author: Wendy Hillger

Proposition 65 requires the State of California to maintain a list of chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.   These warnings apply to landlords, business owners, bars/restaurants, and other retailers.  Businesses with 10 or more employees that expose individuals to listed chemicals through their products or operations generally must provide warnings.  At present, approximately 900 chemicals are required to be disclosed, such as additives or ingredients in pesticides, common household products, food, drugs, dyes, or solvents. Additionally, listed chemicals may also be used in manufacturing and construction, or they may be byproducts of chemical processes, such as motor vehicle exhaust.  These chemicals can be in the products that Californians purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment.

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Attention (Again) California Restaurant Employers: Congress Changes the Tip Pool Rules

Author: Sean Gentry

Earlier in the year, we reported that the Department of Labor was proposing to rescind prior Federal restrictions on tip-pool arrangements, and that we expect a related decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on those rules.

In a somewhat unexpected turn, Congress decided to directly intervene on the tip-sharing agreements under the Fair Labor Standards Act as a part of a recently-passed spending bill.

Under the new federal law, employers with regularly tipped employees may include a broader group of employees in employer-mandated tip-pool arrangements, including any employees who provide “direct table service” or who are in the “chain of service.”

Image result for tip pooling

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