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Taxi Company Shuts Down for Failure to Pay Workers' Comp

A workers' compensation case has put a California taxi company out of business.

Faced with more than $500,000 in fines, A-C Transportation Services, Inc. closed the doors on 20 cabbies on Dec. 31, 2016. The Department of Industrial Relations announced that the closure was part of a settlement based on the company's failure to provide workers' compensation for its drivers.

Kevin and Jennifer Kroh, who also did business as Healdsburg Cab Company, agreed in the settlement to pay a fine of $200,000 and to cease doing business. They had argued unsuccessfully that the drivers were independent contractors rather than employees, and not entitled to workers' compensation.

When is a rest period not a rest period? When you're kept working or on call the whole time, the California Supreme Court recently ruled. In a case decided last Thursday, the court ruled that California law prohibits rest periods and breaks where an employee remains on duty or on call, such as when employees are required to respond to calls or perform basic tasks even when on a required break.

For a break or rest period to meet the requirements of California law, the court concluded, employees must be truly free from work duties.

Well, consider this one of the most obviously stupid things you've encountered recently. In 2011, four supervisors at the West Kern Water District decided to stage a mock robbery in their work place. Following a training on responding to robberies, the supervisors snuck out of the office, with one soon returning dressed in a ski mask, demanding the office's money, and claiming to have a gun.

Of course, the "mock" victim hadn't been informed of the scheme beforehand. To her, everything appeared very, very real.

IMDb, the internet movie database, can tell you virtually every role an actor has played, what projects an actress has in the pipeline, and even your favorite celebrity's height. It can also tell you an actor's age and birthday, at least for now.

A new California law, signed by Governor Brown this September, seeks to deter age discrimination in the entertainment industry by requiring websites like IMDB to remove actors' ages on request. Now, IMDb is suing, alleging that the law violates its First Amendment rights.

Workers at McDonald's franchises in California might soon have a reason to say "I'm lovin' it," now that the company has agreed to a pay out $3.75 million to settle a lawsuit against the world's largest fast food chain. The suit sought to hold McDonald's Corp. accountable, as a joint employer, for the alleged wage and hour violations of a Bay Area franchisee.

The settlement marks the first time McDonald's has agreed to pick up the tab for one of its franchisees, according to Reuters.

When grading teacher performance, school districts aren't required to incorporate students' standardized test scores, a judge in Northern California ruled last week. Contra County Superior Court Judge Barry Goode rejected arguments by the nonprofit group Students Matter that the school districts were required to make standardized test scores a central part of teacher evaluations.

School districts have broad discretion in how to evaluate their teachers' performance, Judge Goode ruled, and all of the 13 districts sued by Students Matter were complying with their legal obligations.

Vergara Decision Stands: CA Teacher Tenure to Stay

The California Supreme Court declined to hear the case of Vergara v. California, one of the most significant teacher's tenure cases to date. This means that the state appeals court decision is undisturbed, preserving many employment rights for teachers.

CA Farmers Sue to Block 'Piece-Rate' Modifications

A California farming interest league has filed a complaint in Fresno County Court alleging that Assembly Bill 1513, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, is unconstitutionally vague, according to Court House News.

The law is essentially an updated version of a pay scheme that California has had in place since the turn of the century. But now its critics have argued that the latest updates are an opening for harm to farmers and even to workers.

We have to say it: we're a little disappointed in the Uber settlement -- and not because it doesn't give drivers enough cash, or because we'd rather not tip. The settlement means that one of the biggest questions of the modern "gig economy" goes unanswered. We still don't know: are the thousands of on-demand workers, at companies like Uber, Lyft, and Postmates, employees or independent contractors?

Uber announced yesterday that it was settling two massive class actions brought by its drivers. As part of the settlement, Uber will pay $100 million and allow drivers to solicit tips from passengers, but those same drivers will continue to be considered independent contractors by the company.

California Supreme Court Makes It Easier to Sue Over Seats

California's highest court jumped into a surprisingly controversial area of the law yesterday: seating. The California Supreme Court provided guidance to the Ninth Circuit on Monday in a case brought by retail and banking employees trying to sue their bosses over lack of adequate seating -- and trying to form a class action to do it.

The row is over the proper interpretation of key California labor law requiring businesses to provide "suitable seats." So, just what on earth is a "suitable seat" anyway?