November 2020 employment law decisions
FMLA willful interference claim requires proof of employer’s knowledge that its conduct is against the law.
November 23, 2020, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Andrea Olson v. USA: Ms. Wilson sued her federal agency employer alleging a violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for a willful failure to provide her notice of FMLA rights. The trial court decided that the agency did not willfully interfere with Ms. Wilson’s rights. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit determined that while employers have a duty to inform their employees of FMLA entitlements, the failure to provide notice of them does not result in an interference claim. Instead, the employee must prove that the employer’s conduct made her less likely to exercise her FMLA rights because she could expect to be fired or otherwise disciplined for doing so. The appellate court also concluded that proof of willful interference requires evidence of the employer’s knowledge of, or reckless disregard for, its conduct being prohibited by law. The Ninth Circuit concluded that the trial court’s decision was not clearly in error.
Commission only pay does not satisfy California’s overtime pay exemption.
November 9, 2020, Fourth District Court of Appeal, Joseph Semprini v. Wedbush Securities, Inc.: An exception to California’s overtime law is when the employee is employed in an administrative capacity, performs certain duties, and is paid a monthly salary equivalent to at least twice the state minimum wage for full-time employment. The Fourth District addressed the issue of whether a compensation plan based solely on commissions qualifies as salary for purposes of this exception. The appellate court concluded that it does not because a federal regulation concerning overtime pay allows only up to ten percent of the salary to be satisfied by commissions and defines salary as a predetermined amount.