30
Aug

Mr. David Bruce presented on the topic of Class Certification at the Seminar Group's 21st Annual Labor & Employment Law Conference on August 24th, 2018. In his presentation titled "Class Certification: The End or Just The Beginning", Mr. Bruce discussed how wage and hour class actions present issues of CR 23 commonality and predominance, highlighted in U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes. These issues are often prominent in litigating certification, and many class actions settle if and after a ...

08
Aug

Geekwire sought out SBW partner Steve Willey's experience and expertise for its recent article on Amazon's decisions about when to seek to enforce the non-competition provisions in its employment agreements. In "It's Business, and it's Personal: How Amazon Web Services Decides to Enforce Non-Compete Contracts", (Geekwire, June 15 2017), Steve offered input about the practical, business considerations that are often relevant to enforcement of non-competes and other contractual restrictive covenants. (See also our blog post on "

01
Sep

For Washington farmers, the distinction between managing a farm and managing a labor force just got fuzzier. While machines have greatly reduced the need for human labor, some farmers still need lots of workers to provide hands-on labor. On many farms, the need for help (as dictated by the crops themselves) is irregular, varying not only seasonally but even week to week and day to day. For generations, farmers have relied on farm labor contractors (FLCs) ...

23
Nov

There are many reasons an employer may want to require arbitration of disputes with its employees. Arbitration can be (but is not always) less expensive than court litigation; arbitrations are not public and are often confidential; and an arbitration agreement can, when combined with a class-action waiver, effectively preclude employee class actions where the claims are not small. Earlier this month, the Washington Court of Appeals confirmed an employer’s right to require its employees to sign an arbitration ...

01
Apr

Before 2003, Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provided that “[a] class action shall not be dismissed or compromised without the approval of the court, and notice of the proposed dismissal or compromise shall be given to all members of the class in such manner as the court directs.”  This ambiguous language created  a circuit split regarding whether court approval was required for settlement and dismissal of a putative class action prior to class certification. In 2003, the ...

01
Dec

PART 2 In an earlier post, I explained that in Washington the attorney-client privilege held by corporations protects communications between corporate counsel and lower-level corporate employees, with some exceptions.  Does this also rule protect communications between counsel for government agencies and lower-level government employees?  Although there does not appear to be a published Washington case on point, the answer is very likely yes. Washington law is clear that the attorney-client privilege, codified at RCW 5.60.060(2), protects communications between the legal advisors ...

25
Nov

PART 1 In Upjohn Co. v. United States, the United States Supreme Court held that the attorney-client privilege protected communications between counsel for Upjohn – who were investigating possible illegal activities by the company – and lower-level company employees.[1]  The Supreme Court rejected the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ holding that under the so-called “control group” test, the privilege only covered communications between counsel and “officers and agents … responsible for directing Upjohn’s actions in response to legal advice.”

04
Nov

Last September, the Washington Court of Appeals held that the “economic reality” test is the proper method to determine whether an entity is a joint employer for purposes of imposing liability under Washington’s Minimum Wage Act (“MWA”).[1]   The Washington Supreme Court has now affirmed.  An earlier blog post about the Court of Appeals decision, Becerra v. Expert Janitorial, is available here.  Becerra involved allegations by a group of janitors that they were underpaid in violation of the ...

15
Apr

Recently, the Washington Court of Appeals was asked to decide whether the collective-bargaining statute for Washington State employees protects employees’ “concerted activities” from employer interference, restraint, or coercion.[1]  “Concerted activities” are those jointly undertaken by employees in an attempt to improve their working conditions.[2]  In this case of first impression, the court held that the concerted activities of Washington’s public employees are not protected. The case involved two emails sent by Department of Corrections officer Phyllis Cherry ...

10
Dec

Many employers rely on non-competition and non-solicitation Agreements with employees (collectively, “noncompetes”) to protect confidential or proprietary information and business relationships when the employee leaves.  Properly used, noncompetes can serve a valuable purpose—but only if they are enforceable.  In litigation over noncompetes, the first and potentially decisive battle concerns this legal issue. The enforceability of noncompetes is decided by state law, and while nearly all states agree that noncompetes are a disfavored restraint on trade, just how disfavored can vary greatly.  ...