Blog

Familial Status Discrimination – Part I: Pre-Tenancy

Author: Trina M. Clayton

Federal and California fair housing laws, most notably the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. 3601, et seq.) and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (Cal. Gov. Code §§ 12900, et seq.), prohibit discrimination in housing rental or conditions based on specific protected classes, such as race, sex, religion, disability, and (the subject of this blog post) familial status.

Familial status refers to any household with children under the age of 18.  It applies whether the minor is a biological child, adopted, a foster child, or legally under the custody or guardianship of an adult tenant.  It applies to both traditional and non-traditional families.  It also applies to pregnant women, as well as families that are in the process of securing legal custody of children through adoption, foster care, or divorce.  It is illegal to discriminate against a prospective or current tenant because there is a child, or will be a child, in the home.

It is important to understand that familial status discrimination may occur at any stage of property rental.  This blog will explore some of the pitfalls a landlord might run into, during the pre-tenancy period.Read More >

Do I have to Pay a Job Applicant for “Try Out” Time?

Author: Trina M. Clayton

When hiring a new employee, many employers find it valuable to observe a candidate perform essential job skills, to help them select the right applicant.  An employer may ask a candidate to demonstrate how they would actually perform the job – for instance – having a delivery driver lift heavy boxes, having a cook demonstrate food preparation skills, or having an office worker perform a typing test.  Employers should be mindful, however, that depending on what the applicant is asked to do during an interview, and how much time it takes, they may need to pay the applicant for this “try-out” time.

Primary Considerations

According to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), there are three principal factors to consider when determining whether “try-out” time needs to be paid.Read More >

The Opening Day TRO

 

Author: Michael S. Dorsi

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. And California civil procedure has an answer to the need for immediate orders from a court: you can, on one day, file your case, make your first motion, obtain a temporary restraining order, and have the court set a date when the defendant is ordered to show cause  why a Temporary Restraining Order should not be granted.

What is the trick to winning such a big, early victory for a client?

First, the relief must fit the facts. That the defendant owes a lot of money is typically not going to be enough for an early court order. A court can order the defendant to pay later. The Opening Day TRO requires something more than just monetary damages.

Second, you, the attorney, should get to know the courtroom. Different counties have different procedures. Marin County assigns cases to a single judge, so that same judge hears your ex parte application, your noticed motions, your case management issues, and your trial. San Francisco assigns several judges to civil trials full-time, while two different courtrooms handle motions (Department 501 for cases dealing with real property and housing, Department 302 for everything else). And while some judges take the bench, others send out a clerk to talk to the parties and report back with the papers. Having experience in the specific courtroom is best, but if you don’t have that, at least show up and watch ex parte applications in the appropriate courtroom.

Third, cross your t’s and dot your i’s. The easiest way for a court to deny an ex parte application is for failure to follow procedure. Sometimes that means delivering a courtesy copy of your papers even before you file them at the clerk’s office. Don’t worry if it seems strange, you will be more successful if you just do what the court wants.

 

Waiting for Godot at the Clerk’s Office

Author: Michael S. Dorsi

California law permits plaintiffs to file a complaint and seek a temporary restraining order on an ex parte basis the day the plaintiff files the complaint. This is not for every case, but it is an important procedure when time is of the essence. Sometimes judges attempt to cajole the parties into an agreement that will hold until the judge can decide a fully briefed preliminary injunction, and sometimes judges will issue a TRO on the papers submitted on day one.

But to get to a day-one temporary restraining order, you must get past the clerk’s office.

San Francisco Superior Court adopted rules that make getting past the clerk difficult. For most civil cases, parties represented by an attorney file their complaint in hard copy, then all subsequent filings must be online via the e-filing system. This includes papers for ex parte appearances.Read More >

DOL Set to Rescind Restrictions on Tip Pooling

Author: Sean Gentry

The U.S. Department of Labor is preparing to eliminate a 2011 restriction on certain hospitality employers from entering into tip-sharing agreements with individuals who are not customarily and regularly tipped.

The effect of this is that restaurant employers will likely be able to include kitchen and back-of-the-house employees in the tip pool.  This may alleviate problems some restaurants have had in retaining high quality back-of-the-house employees because it may allow employers to more easily compensate such employees in comparison to tipped employees.

As a reminder, employers are still subject to state laws.  In California this means that the tip-pool may not include any owners and most managers or supervisors, even if those individuals provide direct service to a customer.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals previously upheld this 2011 regulation, but that case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Assoc. v. Perez.  Therefore, despite some serious concerns about the effects this change in policy may have on tipped employees nationwide, we expect to see dramatic changes this year as the DOL and Supreme Court weigh in on tip-pooling, and as California’s legislature might react by imposing some of its own new regulations.

Attorneys’ Fees for Computer Misuse? What about for Defendants?

Author: Michael Dorsi

Attorneys who have dealt with computer misuse statutes know that while the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1030, provides federal jurisdiction, California’s Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act (“CDAFA”), Cal. Penal Code § 502, has a broader scope and more plaintiff-friendly remedies. Those remedies include attorneys’ fees. But what happens if a plaintiff sues under the CDAFA, and loses. Can the defendant win fees?

There is a frustrating split of authority on this question.

The split is between Swearingen v. Haas Automation, Inc., No. 09CV473 BTM(BLM), 2010 WL 1495204, at *3 (S.D. Cal. Apr. 14, 2010), and US Source LLC v. Chelliah, No. G049481, 2014 WL 6977597, at *6 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 10, 2014). Swearingen says fees are for plaintiffs only; US Source says defendants* can win fees as well.

Normally this would be easy to work out. US Source is more recent and decided by the California Court of Appeal on a question of state law. Swearingen is a federal district court decision, so it is not binding on anyone (beyond its own case). Going forward, US Source ought to control.Read More >

Tenants’ Rights in Single Family Homes

Author: Michael S. Dorsi

San Francisco’s Rent Ordinance rules concerning housing do not apply to single family homes, right? Wrong.

San Francisco has both eviction controls and rent controls.  California’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (Civil Code § 1954.50 et seq.) exempts single family homes (and other separately alienable dwellings) from local government’s rules that limit rent increases. The San Francisco Rent Ordinance reflects this rule, exempting single family homes from the limits on rent increases. As a result, landlords renting out single family homes can raise the rent beyond the increases permitted by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance.

However, the San Francisco Rent Ordinance also has specific rules for owner move-in evictions.  Single family homes are governed, generally, by eviction controls.


Single family homes in San Francisco . . .

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What To Do When The ICE-Man Cometh

Author: Trina Clayton

Less than a month after federal immigration officials raided nearly 100 7-Eleven stores nationwide, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents conducted another sweep at the end of January – searching 77 businesses in the San Francisco and Sacramento areas in what was believed to be the largest localized raid since President Donald Trump took office.  What’s more, it doesn’t look like this will be the end of the ICE raids.  ICE acting director Thomas Homan has made a call for a “400 percent increase” in agency operations focusing on workplaces and, specifically, workplaces in California.  In light of this governmental shift, what, exactly, is an employer supposed to do when ICE comes to call?

Fortunately, California employers have been provided slightly firmer ground on which to stand, based, in large part, by a recent law which went into effect January 1, 2018 – the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450).

AB 450’s provisions include the following:

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Be Careful with Your Data

Author:  Michael S. Dorsi

Recent revelations indicate that U.S. military or intelligence personnel (and maybe Russians too) using the popular run-tracking app, Strava, may have unintentionally divulged sensitive location information. While these runners may have turned on security features that anonymize their data, their anonymized data became part of Strava’s heat maps, which show popular running routes. A running route around what appears to be an abandoned airfield in the desert can give away that the airfield isn’t so abandoned.Read More >

How to Enforce Settlement Agreements Under CCP §664.6

Author: Annie Smiddy

In the case of Sayta v. Chu, on November 29, 2017 the Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District, clarified the requirements for enforcing settlement agreements pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 664.6 (“Section 664.6”). Most settlement agreements in pending litigation include a provision that provides for enforcement of the agreement pursuant to Section 664.6. The statute allows the parties to take advantage of an expedited procedure to enforce the agreement without filing a separate lawsuit. It’s cheaper, easier, and fulfills the purpose of the agreement – to resolve the parties’ dispute.

However, Sayta confirmed that the expedited procedure of Section 664.6 is only available when the parties request the trial court retain jurisdiction, either in writing or orally before the court, while the case is still pending, before entry of dismissal. The appellant in Sayta relied on the provision in the confidential settlement agreement stating that the parties agreed to enforce the agreement pursuant to Section 664.6. The Court of Appeals determined that this confidential agreement did not constitute a “request” for the trial court to retain jurisdiction, as required by Section 664.6. “‘[T]he court lost subject matter jurisdiction when the parties filed a voluntary dismissal of the entire cause. Since subject matter jurisdiction cannot be conferred by consent, waiver, or estoppel, the court cannot ‘retain’ jurisdiction it has lost.’” (Sayta, supra, citing Viejo Bancorp, Inc. v. Wood (1989) 217 Cal.App.3d 200, 206-207.)Read More >