MICHAEL SULLIVAN & ASSOCIATES BLOG
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WCAB district offices have stopped conducting in-person trials since March 16, 2020. Beginning May 4, 2020, the WCAB began hearing trials on the cases-in-chief via individually assigned judges’ conference lines.
Since March 2020, to protect the health and safety of staff and the community, the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) closed the district offices for in-person filing. The DWC has only allowed documents to be filed via EAMS, JET file or by mail.
Two weeks after Cal/OSHA voted and approved emergency COVID-19 regulations, Governor Newsom has issued an Executive Order (PDF) making changes. The changes are intended to relax certain rules to accommodate economic necessities within the confines of safety. They include a reduction in the mandatory quarantine periods, relaxed rules for migrant farm labor, and for retired employees who go back to work. There are also changes made to allow for extension of some tax returns, and appointments to administrative Boards.
On Dec. 15, 2020, the WCAB issued its seventh en banc decision regarding COVID-19, “In Re: COVID-19 State of Emergency En Banc –– NO. 7.” This decision suspends CCR 10789(c) which applies to the assignment of judges for walk-through cases. The effect of this is to grant the local district offices the flexibility to manage walk-throughs. This should allow the local district offices, when they are reopened for walk-throughs, to reestablish walk-throughs in a way that their available resources will allow.
The OAL has approved the recently submitted new emergency standards (PDF) created by Cal/OSHA. These regulations are extensive, contain many new standards, and require immediate action on the part of California employers. They take effect as of Monday, November 30 and remain in effect for 180 days, unless extended.
If you are contemplating selling your business, you should consider having the acquirer sign an agreement not to disclose your company’s trade secrets or to solicit your employees in the event the acquisition is unsuccessful. In Hooked Media Group, Inc. v. Apple, Inc., Apple, Inc. (“Apple”) had recruited several engineers from Hooked Media Group, Inc. (“Hooked”) to work for them after negotiations to acquire Hooked failed. Though the former Hooked engineers developed for Apple “a detailed plan for a . . . system much like Hooked’s version,” the Court of Appeal held that Apple was not in violation of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”).
Cal/OSHA has approved emergency COVID-19 prevention regulations. Upon the expected approval of the Office of Administrative Law, they will become effective by November 30. These extensive and complex regulations place significant and immediate new requirements on employers. They mandate training, demand the drafting and implementation of new COVID-19 prevention manuals, and include provisions requiring the payment of wages and employer-paid COVID testing in certain circumstances.
Do You Know About the Latest Changes to the California Family Rights Act?
Until now, under both the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) and its federal counterpart, the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), employees have been able to obtain leave on behalf of only a limited number of family members. Under the new law, employees would also be able to request leave on behalf of their adult children, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings with serious health conditions. Employers should be aware of these additional family members on whose behalf an employee may request leave.