header image

[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Mostly clear
Mostly clear
Today in
S.C.V. History
February 28
1890 - Jenkins ranch hands Dolores Cook and George Walton of Castaic slain by rival William Chormicle and W.A. Gardener [story]
Dolores Cook

| Friday, Jan 15, 2021
The California Supreme Court building in San Francisco. (Courthouse News photo / Maria Dinzeo)


SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — The California Supreme Court declared Thursday that worker classification standards set forth in its Dynamex decision should apply retroactively to a labor class action from 15 years ago, as well as all non-final cases that predate the 2018 landmark ruling.

Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles established a three-part test for when employers can classify workers as independent contractors. They must show A) the hiring entity does not directly control the worker, B) the work falls outside the hiring entity’s usual course of business, and C) the worker is “customarily engaged in an independently established trade occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.”

The court also held that this standard, codified into California law with the passage of Assembly Bill 5 in 2019, is consistent with the meaning of “employ” as to “suffer or permit to work” as defined by California wage orders.

In 2019, the Ninth Circuit overturned a 2017 ruling in which U.S. District Judge William Alsup sided with the cleaning business franchisor Jan-Pro. The panel found Alsup applied the employment relationship as defined in Martinez v. Combs, which the California Supreme Court decided eight years before Dynamex.

The Martinez case turned on whether seasonal farm laborers could be considered employees of business entities instead of their most immediate employer.

But the appellate court set aside its ruling to ask the California Supreme Court to settle the question of whether the ABC test in Dynamex could apply to janitors who sued Jan-Pro in 2006.

On Thursday, the high court held that it does.

“Given the constraints imposed by the statute of limitations, the retroactive application of Dynamex will in practice affect a limited number of cases. Nonetheless, in light of the general rule of retroactivity of judicial decisions and the fundamental importance of the protections afforded by the wage orders, we find no compelling justification for denying workers included in such lawsuits the benefit of the standard set forth in Dynamex,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote for the unanimous court.

She said that while Martinez left open the question of whether the farmworkers were properly considered employees or, instead, independent contractors in the wage order context, it put employers on notice that the issue could come up in a future case.

Even so, Jan-Pro argued it reasonably relied on legal decisions prior to Dynamex, particularly the 11-factor classification test set forth in S.G. Borello & Sons v. Dept. of Industrial Relations.

But Cantil-Sakauye wrote the narrower test adopted in Dynamex “was not beyond the bounds of what employers could reasonably have expected” since it drew on some of the factors outlined by Borello.

“We reject the contention that litigants must have foresight of the exact rule that a court ultimately adopts in order for it to have retroactive effect,” she wrote. “And indeed, the ABC test articulated in Dynamex was within the scope of what employers reasonably could have foreseen. Prior decisions of this court had certainly provided putative employers notice concerning the potential breadth of the suffer or permit to work language.”

Shannon Liss-Riordan, an employment attorney representing the janitors, said she was pleased with the court’s decision and expected the janitors would be declared employees under the Dynamex test.

“The court reaffirmed the strength of the ABC test adopted in Dynamex. It also reminded us all that the test was necessary because the multifactor test in Borello had led to inconsistent outcomes that did not give workers and employers sufficient guidance to know their rights and responsibilities,” Liss-Riordan said in an email Thursday. “The court emphasized the importance of a strong legal standard to prevent independent contractor misclassification, in order to ensure that workers receive the protections to which they are entitled as employees.”

She added, “This decision should be a big help to workers across California who are continuing to litigate misclassification wage violations that occurred before April 2018.”

With the retroactivity question settled, Liss-Riordan said the case will now go back to Alsup.

“We expect that, in light of this ruling and the ruling of the Ninth Circuit, the janitors should be declared employees,” she said.

— By Maria Dinzeo, CNS

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1890 - Jenkins ranch hands Dolores Cook and George Walton of Castaic slain by rival William Chormicle and W.A. Gardener [story]
Dolores Cook
1950 - Ex-Mrs. William S. Hart appears in court to challenge will that leaves Hart Park & Mansion to L.A. County [story]
Winifred Westover
The Sand Canyon Resort project is scheduled to return before the Santa Clarita Planning Commission Tuesday with a series of revisions, following multiple concerns raised by both commissioners and residents.
Modified Sand Canyon Resort Project Up for Review
Los Angeles County Public Health officials on Friday confirmed 144 new deaths and 1,838 new cases of COVID-19 countywide, with 26,045 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: SCV Cases Total 26,045; Nearly 2 Million Doses Administered in County
The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles announced on Feb. 26 that Kenya Yarbrough will lead its newly-created and first-ever Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, Access, and Advocacy Initiative.
Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Launches First-Ever Diversity and Advocacy Department
The Valley Industry Association will welcome College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook as the keynote speaker for the March VIA Virtual Series taking place Tuesday, March 16, from 11:00 a.m to 12:15 p.m.
March 16: VIA Virtual Series with Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook
The city of Santa Clarita’s Planning Commission will hold a regular meeting virtually Tuesday, March 2, at 6:00 p.m.
March 2: Planning Commission Virtual Regular Meeting
The Child and Family Center's Domestic Violence Program is set to host its fourth annual "Night of Expression" art exhibit on Saturday, Feb. 27, in recognition of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Feb. 27: Child and Family Center to Host Virtual Teen Dating Violence Awareness Art Exhibit
California Department of Public Health officials announced on Feb. 26 that California is on track to create the capacity to administer 3 million vaccinations per week by March 1.
State on Track to Reach Capacity Goal of 3 Million Vaccines Per Week, Pending Available Supply
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital is set to host events and classes in March to celebrate National Nutrition Month.
Henry Mayo to Host Events, Classes for National Nutrition Month
The college district received the best rating possible in an independent audit of its general obligation bond expenditures.
Independent Audit Finds College District in Full Compliance
After being shuttered for almost a year due to pandemic restrictions, Mountasia Family Fun Center has been purchased by MB2 Group.
MB2 Group Purchases Mountasia Family Fun Center
The California Department of Motor Vehicles announced a new round of extensions for commercial driver’s licenses expiring through May 31 that will help commercial drivers focus on delivering essential products and supplies during the COVID-19 emergency.
DMV Extends Expiring Commercial Driver’s Licenses Through May
1923 - U.S. release of Charles Chaplin film "The Pilgrim," partially shot at Saugus Train Station & Newhall First Presbyterian Church [watch]
The Pilgrim
Fry's Electronics, the consumer electronics retailer, announced Wednesday that it is going out of business after nearly 36 years.
Fry’s Electronics Closing All Its Stores
The Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) announced Thursday the upcoming launch of the Los Angeles Online Dispute Resolution (LA-ODR) program, in collaboration with the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County and its Dispute Resolution Program (DRP), and the Center for Conflict Resolution.
L.A. County Launches Program to Help Litigants Settle Cases Online
A former manager of the Valencia COVID-19 testing lab is being sued by the operator for breaching her contract after she accused the company of poor performance.
PerkinElmer Suing Whistleblower for Breach of Contract
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed Thursday 132 new deaths and 2,072 new cases of COVID-19, with 25,990 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Thursday COVID-19 Roundup: SCV Cases Nearing 26,000; L.A. County Reaches 100 MIS-C Cases in Children
Three hundred sixty-six feature films are eligible for the 2020 Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.
Academy Announces 366 Feature Films Eligible for 2020 Best Picture Oscar
Hannah Cumming is exactly the type of player Master's women's soccer head coach Curtis Lewis appreciates.
Hannah Cumming Signs with TMU
Santa Clarita City Council members declined Tuesday to administer $6.8 million in state rental assistance funds for eligible residents who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and let the state handle those dollars but approved creating a program for them with $6.3 million from the federal government.
Rental Aid Program Coming to Eligible Santa Clarita Residents Impacted by Pandemic
The Santa Clarita City Council Legislative Committee will hold a special meeting virtually Friday, Feb. 26, at 2:00 p.m. 
Feb. 26: City Council Legislative Committee Virtual Special Meeting
As Los Angelenos envision their future — whether it’s housing, parks or wellness — there is much they can learn from the past.
CSUN Collaborates with Tataviam, Indigenous Communities to Create Virtual, Ecological History Map
Flair Cleaners, Southern California’s leading eco-friendly dry cleaner, is hosting its 6th Annual Flair Cares Food Drive, Hang Up Hunger, through March 31
Annual Flair Cares Food Drive Underway
%d bloggers like this: