Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Understanding California's Fair Pay Act

After the hack of Sony's e-mails and the revelation of the pay inequality in Hollywood between male actors and female actors, there was a call by some of the actresses for fair pay.  You may recall Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech at the 2015 Oscars wherein she called for wage equality.  That spawned action at the California Legislature to enact the California Fair Pay Act.  Gov. Brown signed the law in early October.  So, what does the law do, you ask?

Well, it ensures that male and female employees who perform "substantially similar" work are paid equal wages.  This language is broader than the "equal work" language in the prior law.  This is true even if they have different job titles or work in different offices of the same employer.  There is also an anti-retaliation component to the law which allows co-workers to discuss their wages with each other without fear of punishment by the employer.  Only merit, seniority, quantity/quality of production, or a "bona fide" factor other than sex that is a legitimate business necessity are allowable explanations for wage differences between male and female employees.  

All businesses (public and private) must comply with the law.  However, keep in mind that the business must have both male and female employees doing the same or similar work.  For example, most nurses are women.  If your company has only women who are nurses, then there is no way to apply the law because there would be no male nurse's wages to compare with the female nurses.  Of course, this "loophole" (for lack of a better term) existed in the prior equal pay law.  

With this law, California remains at the forefront of employee protection.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

There is No Way to Sugar Coat It: Corn Syrup v. Sugar!!

UPDATE:  The parties settled the litigation in the middle o trial.  The terms of the settlement are confidential.

Earlier this month, the trial between the sugar industry and the high fructose corn syrup producers began in a Federal court.  The sugar industry sued the corn syrup producers for falsely claiming that their product is just as healthy as sugar.  Not to be outdone, the corn syrup producers shot back with a claim that the sugar industry engaged in a lengthy misinformation campaign.  It would seem strange that the two would be fighting over allegedly false claims about the health information of their products. This is especially true given that both products have been linked to a host of health ailments (obesity, tooth decay, diabetes--just to name a few).

The sugar industry claims that the corn syrup producers' ads claiming that corn syrup is "nutritionally the same as table sugar" and "your body can't tell the difference" between the two sweeteners is false. They further claim that the corn syrup producers know these claims are false.  The corn syrup producers counter that argument with a claim that the ads were an "educational campaign" to correct ten years of falsehoods made by the sugar industry about their product.  They also claim that the lawsuit is nothing more than the sugar industry's attempt to throttle its competition.

This one may be a fun one to watch.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Another Athlete Suing Over His Name and Likeness

As if FanDuel has not had enough to worry about recently, Pierre Garcon (Wide Receiver for the Washington Redskins) recently filed a class action lawsuit against it.  Mr. Garcon alleges that FanDuel used his name and likeness in marketing without his permission.  The lawsuit includes advertising using his name and likeness, as well as using his name and likeness in FanDuel's daily fantasy football contests.

While FanDuel asserts it did nothing wrong, it may want to look at how its competitor DraftKings handled the issue.  DraftKings entered into a licensing deal with the NFL Players Association allowing it to feature some of its players in marketing campaigns and daily contests.

It seems ever since Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against EA Sports, this has become a hot legal issue.  Stay tuned to see how this one turns out.