Absent Employer Policy Of Either Monitoring Individual Email Accounts Or Prohibiting Use Of The Company’s Email Account For Personal Communications, Employees May Have Privacy Interest In Emails Over Employer’s Email System
Militello v. VFARM 1509, 89 Cal. App. 5th 602 (2023)
Shauneen Militello, Ann Lawrence Athey (Lawrence), and Rajesh Manek were the co-owners of Cannaco Research Corporation (CRC), a licensed manufacturer and distributor of cannabis products. All three individuals served as officers of CRC until Lawrence and Manek voted to remove Militello from her position. Militello sued Lawrence, Manek, and others, including Joel Athey, Lawrence’s husband, in a multicount complaint alleging causes of action for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and other torts.
Lawrence moved to disqualify Militello’s counsel, Spencer Hosie and Hosie Rice LLP, on the ground Militello had impermissibly downloaded from Lawrence’s CRC email account private communications between Lawrence and Athey, protected by the spousal communication privilege (Evid. Code, § 980), and provided them to her attorneys, who then used them in an attempt to obtain a receivership for CRC in a parallel proceeding. Militello opposed the motion, arguing in part Lawrence had no reasonable expectation her electronic communications with her husband were confidential because she knew Militello, as a director of CRC, had the right to review all communications on CRC’s corporate network. Militello also argued disqualification is not appropriate when a lawyer has received the adverse party’s privileged communications from his or her own client. The trial court granted the motion, finding that Militello had not carried her burden of establishing Lawrence had no reasonable expectation her communications with her husband would be private, and ordered the disqualification of Hosie and Hosie Rice.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the finding that Lawrence reasonably expected her communications were, and would remain, confidential. And while the Court of Appeal acknowledged that disqualification may not be an appropriate remedy when a client simply discusses with his or her lawyer improperly acquired privileged information, counsel’s knowing use of the opposing side’s privileged documents, however, obtained, is a ground for disqualification.
Effective January 1, 2018, California’s Equal Pay Act prohibited employers, with one exception, from seeking applicants’ salary history information and required employers to supply pay scales upon the request of an applicant.
SB 1162 expands upon these pay transparency measures and counters workplace discrimination by requiring employers of 15 or more employees to: (i) include the pay scale for a position in any job posting; (ii) provide pay scale information to current employees and to applicants upon reasonable request; and (iii) maintain employee records, including job titles and wage rate histories, through the term of each employee’s employment and for 3 years after their employment has ended.
SB 1162 also expands covered employers’ pay data reporting obligations. Since 2021, California law has required private employers who have 100 or more employees and who must file a federal EEO-1 to file an annual pay data report with the California Civil Rights Department (formerly the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing) on or before March 31 of each year. SB 1162 broadens these obligations in several significant ways.
First, the bill expands who must file a pay data report so that all private employers with 100 or more employees will be required to file a pay data report regardless of whether they also must file a federal EEO-1, and private employers with 100 or more employees hired through labor contractors will be required to submit a separate pay data report regarding these contracted workers.
Second, in addition to demographic and pay band information, employers’ pay data reports will also need to identify, within each job category, the median and mean pay rate for each combination of race, ethnicity, and sex.
SB1126 expands the CalSavers Retirement Savings Trust Act to define an “eligible employer” as a person or entity engaged in a business, industry, profession, trade or other enterprise in the State that has at least one eligible employee, excluding certain government entities and entities employing only their business owners. The Act previously covered only employers with 5 or more employees. Eligible employers must establish or participate in a payroll deposit retirement savings arrangement prescribed by the Act.
Gregory D. Helmer selected to Board of Directors of Bet Tzedek Legal Services
October 20, 2010 – Helmer Friedman is pleased to announce that Gregory D. Helmer has been selected to serve on the Board of Directors of Bet Tzedek (House of Justice) Legal Services Foundation. One of the nation’s premier legal services organizations since 1974, Bet Tzedek provides free assistance to more than 10,000 people of every racial and religious background in the Los Angeles area. Recently, Bet Tzedek’s employment rights project won a significant human trafficking case in which the victim, an Indonesian woman, was brought to the United States and forced to work without pay and under inhumane living conditions. In addition, Bet Tzedek’s Holocaust Survivors Justice Network has assisted survivors of the holocaust in seeking and obtaining reparations from the German Government.