As we briefly reported on here, the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) ruled Monday that arbitration agreements that force workers to sign away their rights to pursue class and representative action claims are legal, rejecting the National Labor Relations Board’s position that class waivers violate federal labor law.

In 1925, Congress passed the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), which (among other things) provides that an agreement to arbitrate a dispute “shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable.” Ten years later, Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), which makes clear that employees have the right to work together for “mutual aid and protection.” SCOTUS’ decision resolved a trio of cases involving Epic Systems Corp., Murphy Oil USA Inc., and Ernst & Young, LLP. In each case, an employee who signed an arbitration agreement with a class action waiver filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking to bring both individual and collective claims and not arbitrate their individual claims as required by the arbitration agreement. The employers argued that, under the terms of the arbitration agreements, the employees needed to pursue their claims on an individual basis in arbitration.

Earlier today, the Supreme Court issued an important decision in the Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis case, holding that the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) does not create for employees a right to class actions. This means that arbitration agreements between employers and employees containing a class action waiver are enforceable.

We have been notified of a few instances where California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (“CRLAF”) agents have been encountered entering farms and ranches, taking photos, and threatening to file complaints with Cal/OSHA when asked to leave. They have also been seen handing out flyers like these in and near workers’ housing areas. Additionally, on at least one occasion, they have represented themselves as being “with the State,” in order to invoke the cover of State authority to justify their unlawful presence. One such individual, after finally admitting that he worked for the CRLAF, claimed he was “investigating human trafficking issues.”

Trump’s DOL Issued Wage and Hour Opinion Letters

On Thursday, April 12, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) released three new opinion letters. These are official, written opinions by WHD on “how a particular law applies in specific circumstances,” and they represent official statements of agency policy.

ICE Update

In a sweep during the second week of April, ICE arrested 225 people in New York City, according to this article in the Daily News. Similar to much of California, New York is a “sanctuary” city, and, like the recent California sweep we covered here, there were several arrests of people who had no outstanding criminal charges or convictions, which ICE calls “collateral arrests.” A statement from ICE Acting Director Tom Homan in October made clear that the agency believes it has “no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites.”

Monterey County Proclaims 1st Farmworker Appreciation Day

On March 20, 2018, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution proclaiming March 31, 2018, César Chávez’s birthday, as Monterey County’s 1st ever Farmworker Appreciation Day, the result of a combined effort of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, Teamsters 890, and La Union Es Para Todos – a union within UFW. According to its Facebook page, the UFW has marches scheduled for Sunday, April 8, 2018, in Salinas, CA, Sunnyside, WA, and Livingston, CA, and for Sunday, April 15, 2018, in Madera, CA, and Oxnard, CA. Please refer to our recent report on protests as protected activity here.

Built For Employers