UPDATES FOR CALIFORNIA EMPLOYERS – SEPTEMBER 2014

FRANCHISOR LIABLE?

In Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza, the plaintiff alleged that she had been sexually harassed by her supervisor.  She sued both her direct employer, who was a franchisee of Domino’s Pizza, as well as Domino’s Pizza itself as the franchisor.  Plaintiff claimed that Domino’s Pizza was liable because it was her joint employer, and also because the franchisee was its agent.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Domino’s Pizza, the Court of Appeal reversed, and the California Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal.  The Supreme Court explained that potential liability of a franchisor depends on whether it has retained or assumed a general right of control over factors such as hiring, direction, supervision, discipline, discharge, and relevant day-to-day aspects of the workplace behavior of the franchisee’s employees.  The Supreme Court then held that, even though Domino’s Pizza enforced standards for general operations of its franchisees, it did not have general control as an employer or principal over day-to-day aspects of employment and workplace behavior.  Accordingly, the Supreme Court held that Domino’s Pizza could not face liability for plaintiff’s alleged sexual harassment claims.

DISABILITY CLAIMS RE ADHD

In Weaving v. City of Hillsboro, the plaintiff, who was a police officer, sued his former police department and the City of Hillsboro for disability discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  The plaintiff alleged that the defendants had terminated him because of problems associated with his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”).  A jury returned a verdict in his favor, and defendants appealed.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal reversed.  The Ninth Circuit Court found that plaintiff’s ADHD did not constitute a “disability” as defined under the ADA.  While plaintiff had alleged that his ADHD limited his ability to work and interact with others, the court found that he did not present substantial evidence to prove that his ADHD substantially limited either his ability to work as compared to most people in the general population, or his ability to interact with others.  Even though plaintiff was generally limited in his ability to get along with others, the court found that he was not substantially limited in his ability to interact with others.

QUIT VS. RETIRED

A California Court of Appeal recently held that the requirements of Labor Code sections 202 and 203 can apply not only to employees who quit, but also to employees who retire.  In McLean v. State of California et al., the plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all former employees of the State of California who had retired from their employment between November 2010 and March 2011.  Plaintiff claimed that the putative class had not received prompt payment of wages as required by Labor Code section 202.  Plaintiff also sought waiting time penalties under Labor Code section 203.  The trial court sustained defendant’s demurrer on the grounds that Labor Code section 202 requires prompt payment of wages only for employees who “quit” their employment, and since plaintiff had retired, Labor Code sections 202 and 203 did not apply.  The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s ruling and found that the term “quit” in Labor Code section 202 also encompasses retired employees.

 

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