Steven Blackburn Featured in Article About Recent Developments in Labor and Employment Law

California Lawyer

Steven Blackburn, a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice, in the San Francisco office, was featured in an article about a roundtable discussion on recent developments in labor and employment law.

Following is an excerpt:

MODERATOR: What are the legal issues addressed by recent wage-and-hour litigation and court decisions?

BLACKBURN: One important decision pending before the California Supreme Court—among several in the wage-and-hour law arena that are going to have signifi­cant impact—is Sullivan v. Oracle Corp. (557 F3d 979 (9th Cir, 2009)(question certified to California Supreme Court)).The court will decide whether a California-based employer must apply the California Labor Code to out-of-state employees when they travel into the state on busi­ness. The nearly uniform practice, of course, has been for employers to pay employees according to the law of the state in which they reside, even if they spend substantial time in California. The logistical aspects of requiring an employer to apply different wage-and-hour principles to employees who travel into a state for a short period are immense. But it is easy to see good arguments on both sides. For example, looking at laws related to smoking in the workplace, arguably it's reasonable to assume that out-of-state employees who work temporarily in California could be bound by the state's anti-smoking provisions. Should wage-and-hour laws similarly apply, depending upon where the work is being performed?


MODERATOR: What trends are you seeing related to arbitration agreements in the employment context?

BLACKBURN: Things have evolved to the point where there is now a substantial question as to whether mandatory arbitration is in the best interest of many employers. Arbitration clauses now include many fea­tures that closely resemble the civil litigation processes, which is what employers were trying to get away from in the first place. And there are many disadvantages to arbitration for employers, such as a limited right to appeal and the question of whether you reserve the right to seek appropriate injunctive relief against the employee. My experience has also been similar to Pam [Teren]'s — there's a question as to whether or not it's faster, cheaper, or more fain.