California Municipal Law Blog

Municipal Law Blog

Legal updates on current legislation and court cases affecting California local government

New State Law Favoring Unions Takes Effect Following Supreme Court’s Janus Ruling

Posted in Employment Law, Legislative Updates, Unions

Governor Brown signed SB 866 into law after Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, 585 U. S. ____ (2018) was released by the Supreme Court on June 27, 2018.  SB 866 is an effort to give something back to the unions given that they lost agency fees when the Court in Janus declared those violative of the First Amendment and overturned Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Ed., 431 U. S. 209 (1977).  SB 866 applies to employers covered by PERB, including cities, special districts, and counties. Continue Reading

Proposition 26 Does Not Impose A Fundamental Right To Vote On Limited Purpose Assessments

Posted in Propositions 13/26/218, Recent Court Decisions, Uncategorized

The electorate does not have a fundamental right to vote on an assessment levied upon a specific group of taxpayers for a limited (non-general governmental) purpose, a California Appellate court found in Reid et al. v. City of San Diego et al.  In Reid, plaintiffs challenged a two percent assessment levied on lodging businesses operating in the City with 70 or more sleeping rooms by the City of San Diego Tourism Marketing District (TMD) to fund coordinated joint marketing and promotional activities for tourism development as violative of Proposition 26 and the Equal Protection Clause, among other causes of action. Continue Reading

Paid Administrative Leave Now Considered Adverse Employment Action

Posted in Employment Law, Recent Court Decisions

Paid administrative leave may be considered an adverse employment action, a California Appellate court found in Whitehall v. Cty. of San Bernardino.  In Whitehall, the plaintiff was employed by San Bernardino County Children and Family Services (CFS) and was assigned to investigate a case in which a nine-month old baby died under suspicious circumstances. Plaintiff obtained the police report which showed the deceased child and four other children were living uninhabitable conditions. The report contained photographs of children with ligature and burn marks. However, the CFS deputy director instructed plaintiff to withhold certain photographs and instead provide altered photographs of the home to the court. Continue Reading

Court Confirms Heads of Government Agencies Are Generally Not Subject to Deposition

Posted in Recent Court Decisions

The First Appellate District recently issued a decision confirming that California law generally prohibits the deposition of a highly placed public officer absent a limited exception to that rule.  The two-pronged exception applies when: (1) the high-ranking official has personal knowledge relating to material issues in the lawsuit and (2) the deposing party demonstrates the information to be gained is not available from any other source.  The reasoning behind the general rule of prohibiting the depositions of high ranking officials is to prevent such proceedings from consuming an officials’ time and disrupting government business. Continue Reading

New Parental Leave Law Takes Effect

Posted in Employee Benefits, Family and Medical Leave

As national discourse around women’s pay equality came to the forefront in 2017, Governor Brown signed several bills in an effort to create a more egalitarian workplace. One such measure came in the form of Senate Bill 63, otherwise known as the New Parental Leave Act, which became effective January 1, 2018. Under prior law, employers with 50 or more employees were required to provide job-protected parental leave. Now employers with at least 20 employees within 75 miles must allow employees with (1) more than 12 months of service with the employer and (2) that have worked at least 1,250 hours with the employer during the previous 12-month period, to take up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. Continue Reading

The Feds’ New Lawsuit Against State “Sanctuary City” Laws: What’s At Issue

Posted in Law Enforcement, Legislative Updates, Uncategorized

On March 7, 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a lawsuit challenging California’s “sanctuary” state laws.  This is only one in a series of actions that Attorney General Sessions’ has taken to curtail “sanctuary” efforts in the United States.

While the term “sanctuary” city or state does not have a precise definition, it generally refers to a jurisdiction that limits its cooperation with federal immigration authorities.  The idea behind a “sanctuary” city or state is to reduce the fear of deportation among immigrants living in a jurisdiction illegally, so that they are more willing to report crimes, use health and social services, and enroll their children in school. Continue Reading

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments Today in Major Union Fee Case

Posted in Employment Law, Unions

The United States Supreme Court hears oral argument today in a case that could reshape finances for public employee unions in 22 states, including California, where those unions are able to collect “agency fees” from non-member public employees to cover the costs of negotiating collective bargaining agreements and representation services.

Two years ago, the Court heard similar issues in Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association 136 S. Ct. 1083 (2016), however, the decision stalled 4-4 at the Court after Justice Scalia’s death prior to the decision, leaving the lower court decision undisturbed.  The new case, Janus v. American Federation is widely expected to result in a finding that such agency fee arrangements violate free association and free expression protections of the 1st Amendment.  Full information about the Janus case can be found here.    The case is on appeal from a Seventh Circuit decision, Janus v. American Federation. Continue Reading

Recent Court Decision Highlights Due Process Requirements for Building Enforcement Appeals

Posted in Recent Court Decisions

A recent court ruling in the First Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal may require cities to make changes to their procedures for hearing administrative appeals of substandard housing citations.

In Lippman v. City of Oakland, a landlord who owns rental property in Oakland appealed citations he received from the City’s Building Services Department for blight and substandard living conditions.  The landlord’s claims on appeal were adjudicated by a single hearing officer who was appointed by the same Department that cited him.  Continue Reading