New MoFo Update

MoFo has a new labor & employment law update here, by James E. Boddy.

"A Revised Roadmap For Disability Access in California"

Labor Code 96(k) Interpreted

A number of labor & employment law cases were handed down by California Courts yesterday, but I think this one is most important:

Grinzi v. San Diego Hospice Corp. 4th Dist. Case No. D04231.

Without knowing the full facts of the case, or the position the lawyers were put in, it is somewhat unfair to say this, but, isn't it in the first week of Con Law that the First Amendment only protects against government intrustion?

An employee was term'd, according to her, for participation in the "Women's Garden Circile", according to the employer for unauthorized use of their e-mail system. Here's the beef:

By so specifying rights "otherwise protected by the Labor Code" and "under the
Labor Code," the Legislature has indicated an intention to limit the proscription against
terminations for the exercise of "any rights" to the exercise of those rights "otherwise
protected by the Labor Code." Further, the initial portion of section 98.6, subdivision (a),
proscribes terminations for several kinds of conduct delineated in "this chapter,"
including conduct under section 96, subdivision (k), and "Chapter 5 of Part 3 of Division
2," or filing claims or proceedings with the Labor Commissioner. (See fn. 10, ante.) As
such, these provisions only prohibit terminations for conduct "otherwise protected by the
Labor Code." In this context, the reasonable conclusion is the Legislature also intended
the phrase, "any rights," in the final portion of section 98.6, subdivision (a), to similarly
refer to rights "otherwise protected by the Labor Code." Consequently, for Grinzi's claim
to survive under this provision, she must allege her termination occurred because she
exercised a right protected by the Labor Code. As discussed, Grinzi does not allege she
exercised such a right.

Many had been reading 96(k)/98.6 to limit employee reaction to any outside lawful conduct. Narrowing it to include only rights protected by the LC is dramatic in that regard.

IWC Shut Down

The Sacramento Bee reports that the IWC is shut down for lack of funding, and lack of support from both parties.

In place of the commission, future decisions about the minimum wage, overtime rules and other working conditions will be left up to the Legislature. Some workers may also pursue lawsuits to enact changes.

We'll keep this one tabbed.

Employment Figures Disappoint.

The labor statistics for the month of June were announced this morning, and they were vastly lower than expected by forecasters. The NYT has this report, and the WSJ this (sub. req'd.)

The forecast of the unemployment rate holding steady were correct. Wage growth slowed as well. This figure represents a number lower than the oft cited 150,000 per month required to meet population growth. It is worth pointing out that recent polling shows worker less secure than economists in the ability of the market to create jobs. Score one for groupthink this month.

Job Watch (part of the Economic Policy Institute--a labor-side think tank) has some interesting stats on underemployment. The Heritage Foundation (a conservative think tank) paints a rosier picture:
Some analysts will see these numbers as a disappointment; they're anything but that. The economy continues to add jobs broadly, and continued growth and positive earnings should see this trend maintained for some time.