Michael S. Kun, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Los Angeles office, was quoted in Law360, in “2019 Wraps Up with a Bang for California Employers,” by Braden Campbell. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

California federal courts were busy in the waning days of 2019, blocking a state law barring businesses from forcing workers to arbitrate employment claims, granting the trucking industry a temporary reprieve from a law making it harder to classify workers as independent contractors, and playing host to what could be a blockbuster new lawsuit from Uber.

Last year’s final 48 hours saw judges issue temporary restraining orders altogether blocking A.B. 51, which makes it a crime for California employers to make workers file disputes in arbitration instead of court, and carving truckers out of A.B. 5, which makes it harder for business to classify some workers as independent contractors.

Between these orders and Uber’s suit — which may soon see a judge mull a temporary restraining order — California’s employment law landscape has shifted almost overnight.

“Usually there’s not much for us to write about on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day,” said Epstein Becker Green wage and hour practice co-chair Michael Kun, who co-edits the firm’s wage law blog. “But boy, there was some eleventh-hour activity in the federal courts out here.”

Here’s what employment lawyers are saying about the action-packed end of the year in the Golden State. …

The Legal Hangover

A.B. 5 and A.B. 51 have Jan. 1 effective dates, so most affected companies probably had plans to implement them going into the new year, Kun said. It’s likely these holiday surprises caught employers off guard.

“I think a lot of companies that went to bed on Dec. 30 thinking they knew what they were going to do on Jan. 1 woke up on Dec. 31 and realized they probably should put the brakes on what they were planning to do,” Kun said. …

But while a Ninth Circuit battle may favor the state, it’s likely this fight ends at the U.S. Supreme Court, where businesses may find more sympathetic ears, Kun said.

“If [the businesses] are playing the long game on this ... there has to be some amount of optimism that if they can get these cases through the Ninth Circuit and to the U.S. Supreme Court — that it’s going to be the U.S. Supreme Court with its current composition — that’s going to put the brakes on A.B. 5,” he said.

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