April 29, 2015

Supreme Court agrees to answer state law questions in two Ninth Circuit cases

The Supreme Court today unanimously agreed to answer state law questions in two separate cases at the request of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The federal court made the requests in February and March.

In Mendoza v. Nordstrom, Inc., the Court of Appeals asked these questions:  (1) California Labor Code section 551 provides that “[e]very person employed in any occupation of labor is entitled to one day’s rest therefrom in seven.”  Is the required day of rest calculated by the workweek, or is it calculated on a rolling basis for any consecutive seven-day period?  (2) California Labor Code section 556 exempts employers from providing such a day of rest “when the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week or six hours in any one day thereof.”  (Emphasis added.)  Does that exemption apply when an employee works less than six hours in any one day of the applicable week, or does it apply only when an employee works less than six hours in each day of the week?  (3) California Labor Code section 552 provides that an employer may not “cause his employees to work more than six days in seven.”  What does it mean for an employer to “cause” an employee to work more than six days in seven: force, coerce, pressure, schedule, encourage, reward, permit, or something else?

In Frealy v. Reynolds, the Supreme Court will answer this question:  Does section 15306.5 of the California Probate Code impose an absolute cap of 25 percent on a bankruptcy estate’s access to a beneficiary’s interest in a spendthrift trust that consists entirely of payments from principal, or may the bankruptcy estate reach more than 25 percent under other sections of the Probate Code?

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