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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quote of the Week: Andrew Jackson

One man with courage makes a majority.
Andrew Jackson

Why post this here? As advocates for employees in wage and hour cases, we sometimes have the good fortune to represent people who want to help not only themselves, but also their co-workers. The decision to stand up for other people can be difficult to make. Our clients know that class actions can take years to prosecute and that they will have to provide information, documents, and a deposition, and be available at every step along the way. They also know that their current or former employer may be tempted to retaliate against them for standing up for themselves and their co-workers. The people who ultimately choose to be class representatives are those who trust the courage of their own convictions. One person with courage makes a majority.

More Good Stuff From the UCL Practitioner: Live Blog of Advanced Class Action Seminar

Last night, the UCL Practitioner did a live blog from a seminar on Advanced Class Action topics, with a focus on wage and hour. Speakers included Judges Robert Freedman and Steven Brick from Alameda County's complex department, Judge David Flinn from Contra Costa County's complex department, and research attorneys Philip Obbard and Walter Stemmler from Alameda County's complex department. Many thanks to the UCL Practitioner for making this info available for those of us who couldn't make it. (It sounded like a good seminar, but I wasn't going to travel from LA for it!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

California Supreme Court Will Review Arbitration Decision

The California Supreme Court has granted review in Sonic-Calabasas A, Inc. v. Moreno (2009) 94 Cal.Rptr.3d 544, which held that an employee who signs an otherwise valid pre-dispute arbitration agreement may not pursue his claims for unpaid vacation pay in front of the Labor Commissioner. The Court of Appeal held that the plaintiff waived his right to a Labor Commissioner hearing, and that enforcement of the waiver was not barred by Armendariz v. Foundation Health Psychcare Services, Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 83, or Gentry v. Superior Court (2007) 42 Cal.4th 443. The Supreme Court framed the issues to be decided as follows:
(1) Can a mandatory employment arbitration agreement be enforced prior to the conclusion of an administrative proceeding conducted by the Labor Commissioner concerning an employee's statutory wage claim?

(2) Was the Labor Commissioner's jurisdiction over employee's statutory wage claim divested by the Federal Arbitration Act under Preston v. Ferrer (2008) 552 U.S. 346, 128 S.Ct. 978, 169 L.Ed.2d 917?
The Supreme Court's docket is available here. It will be interesting to see whether the Court puts this case on track with Pearson Dental, a case discussing similar issues in the context of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Quote of the Week: The Seventh Amendment

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Seventh Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Why post the Seventh Amendment? Too many companies and employers are forcing their customers to waive their right to jury trial by imposing mandatory arbitration schemes that work to protect the companies' and employers' short-term interests, but subvert the interests of justice. People far too often forget that the right to jury trial is not trivial. It is a fundamental, core principal of American democracy. If it was important enough for our country's founders to put in the Bill of Rights, it is important enough for us to fight to protect.