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Tue Jun. 3rd, 2014 PTWWW Legal Alert

Cal-OSHA regulations require that employees who work outdoors in temperatures exceeding 85 degrees must be given a five minute “heat recovery” break as necessary to protect from overheating.  SB 435 is a new law effective in 2014 that requires one hour of premium pay for an employer’s failure to provide such “heat recovery” periods to its employees.  The Cal-OSHA regulations requiring a “heat recovery” period for outdoor employees when the temperature exceeds 85 degrees apply to any business in any industry.

In Esteban H. Carmona et al. v. Lincoln Millennium Car Wash Inc. et al., plaintiffs sued their employer, Lincoln Millennium Car Wash Inc., for wage and hour violations.  Plaintiffs’ employer sought to compel arbitration pursuant to their employment agreement, which contained arbitration, confidentiality, and enforcement clauses under separate headings in the agreement.  The arbitration and main confidentiality clauses were translated into Spanish, but a subpart of the confidentiality clause and the enforceability clause were not translated into Spanish.  The trial court ruled that the arbitration agreement was unconscionable and refused to enforce it.  The California Court of Appeals affirmed the unenforceability of the arbitration agreement, holding that the subpart of the confidentiality clause and the enforceability clause were part of the arbitration agreement, and were essentially hidden from the employees since defendant did not translate them into Spanish.

In DeSaulles v. Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, plaintiff was terminated from her employment at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.  Plaintiff sued the hospital for alleged failure to accommodate her disability in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and various breach of contract claims.  Subsequently, plaintiff and defendant entered into a settlement agreement, which was silent regarding the payment of litigation costs.  The trial court determined that the hospital was the prevailing party and awarded it discretionary costs.  Plaintiff appealed, arguing that she was entitled to litigation costs because the settlement proceeds constituted a “net monetary recovery” and therefore made her the prevailing party under California Code of Civil Procedure section 1032.  The California Court of Appeals agreed, awarding plaintiff her litigation costs and reversing the trial court’s award of costs to the hospital.