Davis, Cowell & Bowe, LLP

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Firm News

January 10, 2017

Davis, Cowell & Bowe, LLP has changed its name to McCracken, Stemerman & Holsberry, LLP

We are pleased to announce that Davis, Cowell & Bowe, LLP has changed its name to McCracken, Stemerman & Holsberry, LLP.  There is no change in personnel, and will continue working from the same offices in San Francisco and Las Vegas.

August 23, 2016

Ninth Circuit Upholds Los Angeles Hotel Minimum-Wage Law

In American Hotel & Lodging Association et al. v. City of Los Angeles et al., No. 15–55909, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Los Angeles’ Citywide Hotel Minimum Wage Ordinance—which raises the wages of thousands of workers at large hotels in Los Angeles—over a federal labor preemption challenge brought by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. The Court held that the Ordinance was not preempted under the Machinists strand of federal labor preemption and that the ability of unions and unionized employers to opt-out of the ordinance’s requirements through their collective bargaining agreements did not invalidate the ordinance. Davis, Cowell & Bowe represented UNITE HERE Local 11 as an Intervenor, both in the district court and on appeal.

May 16, 2016

Davis, Cowell & Bowe welcomes new associate Yonina Alexander.

Before joining DCB, Yonina, a graduate of Harvard Law School, clerked for the Honorable Roslyn O. Silver in the District of Arizona and practiced civil and employment law for a small firm in San Francisco. At Harvard, Yonina was an active member of the Human Rights Clinic, focusing primarily on corporate accountability for human rights violations.

September 14, 2015

Davis, Cowell & Bowe welcomes new associate Alex Ellebracht.

Alex graduated from University of California, Hastings College of the Law. During law school he served as Senior Supervising Editor for Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly and externed for the Honorable Jon S. Tigar at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. In addition to his work at DCB, Alex volunteers as a legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild.

September 14, 2015

Davis, Cowell & Bowe welcomes new associate Kimberley Weber.

Before joining the firm, Kim clerked for the Honorable Robert C. Brack in the District of New Mexico. While in law school at UC Berkeley School of Law, Kim served as Co-Editor in Chief of the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law and volunteered with the Workers’ Rights Clinic. Kim is also a former teacher.

August 13, 2015

Union prevails in trade secrets dispute.

Ameristar Casino East Chicago sued UNITE HERE Local 1 for theft of trade secrets and inducing beach of confidence after Local 1 collected information about regular customers from employees and used that information to contact the customers and urge them to boycott the casino. The Indiana superior court denied Ameristar’s motion for a preliminary injunction and dismissed the case. For coverage in the Chicago Tribune, see http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/news/ct-ptb-ameristar-lawsuit-st-0826-20150825-story.html

October 06, 2014

DCB Welcomes Associate Brandon Greene

Davis, Cowell & Bowe welcomes associate Brandon Greene to its San Francisco office. Brandon received his JD from Boston University School of Law, where he was a Public Interest Scholar and Martin Luther King Social Justice Fellow. While in law school, Brandon served as the Northeastern Regional Attorney General for the National Black Law Students Association.  He also represented clients as a student representative in the Housing, Employment, Family, and Disability law clinic and worked as a legal fellow in the office of Governor Deval Patrick. Prior to law school, Brandon served with AmeriCorps at Western High School and as an advisory board member of the Stop the F Street Closure Coalition in West Las Vegas, developing communications materials in a successful campaign to open wrongfully closed streets.

August 27, 2014

Bashas’ Settles Lawsuit Challenging Discrimination against Hispanic Workers

Davis, Cowell & Bowe and co-counsel The Impact Fund have won a significant settlement from Arizona grocery chain Bashas’ Inc. in Estrada v. Bashas'. Bashas’ will pay its employees and former employees $6.5 million to settle a class action accusing the grocery chain of discriminating against Hispanic workers for almost a decade by paying them less than white employees.

Under the terms of the settlement, Bashas’ will pay $6.5 million to resolve claims that the chain used lower pay scales to pay Hispanic workers at its Food City stores from 1998 to 2007 in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, affecting a class of over 12,000 employees.


The 2002 lawsuit accused Bashas’ of paying employees at its Food City locations less than employees at its Bashas’ or gourmet-focused A.J. Fine Foods locations. The workforce at Food City, which caters to Hispanic customers, was typically about 75 percent Hispanic, whereas employees at Bashas’ and A.J. Fine Foods were mostly white. In 2005, the district court partially certified the class, granting certification of the working conditions claims, but denying certification of the equal pay claims. In 2008, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
reversed the denial of certification on the pay claim and sent the case back to the district court.

August 18, 2014

Nevada Courts Uphold Use of Project Labor Agreements

The Nevada Courts have upheld the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on major public construction projects. In Associated Builders & Contractors, Nevada Chapter v. Clark County et al., Nevada’s Eighth Judicial District rejected a non-union contractor association’s claim that use of a PLA on multi-phase construction work at Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport violated state competitive-bidding statutes. The Court also concluded that plaintiff ABC lacked standing to challenge the McCarran Airport PLA. On appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court also refused to enjoin work under the McCarran Airport PLA. 

McCracken, Stemerman & Holsberry represented the Southern Nevada Building & Construction Trades Council, which intervened as a defendant in the action. 


May 27, 2014

Class Action Settlement Approved in the Costco Gender Discrimination Class Action.

The district court granted final approval of the parties’ proposed class action settlement in Ellis v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, the Costco gender discrimination class action.  The settlement establishes a process through which class members can present claims that they were denied or delayed a promotion to Assistant General Manager or General Manager because of their gender. An impartial arbitrator will then decide if claims are successful. 

April 25, 2014

DCB Welcomes Patrick Riley

Davis, Cowell & Bowe is pleased to announce that Patrick Riley has joined the firm, as Of Counsel.  Prior to assuming this position, Patrick was House Counsel for the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association—now named the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail & Transportation Workers (SMART)—for 21 years.

February 28, 2014

California Court of Appeal Ruling Protects Oakland Retirees

In City of Oakland v. Oakland Police and Fire Retirement System (link: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A136769.PDF), the California Court of Appeal held that retired Oakland police officers and widows of deceased officers must continue to receive holiday premium pay as part of their pensions, as they have since 1971.  The Court of Appeal reversed a trial court decision that would have reduced the pensions of more than 600 retired officers and widows by over 10% per year, and required them each to repay tens of thousands of dollars in pension payments retroactively.  DCB represented the Retired Oakland Police Officers’ Association, which intervened in the case and successfully prosecuted the appeal after the Oakland Police and Fire Retirement Board abandoned the case.

February 12, 2014

District Court Grants Preliminary Approval of Proposed Settlement in Costco Gender Discrimination Class Action

On February 12, 2014, the district court granted preliminary approal of the parties' proposed class action settlement in Ellis v. Costco Wholesale Corporation. Pursuant to the court's order, notice of the settlement will be mailed to all class members within 14 days. If you are a member of the class and have questions, you can call 1-866-501-2300. More information is also available at the case website: http://genderclassactionagainstcostco.com/case-status/.

February 10, 2014

Hotel Workers Collect Service Fees

DCB brought class-action lawsuits against five hotels for violating Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotels in the Los Angeles International Airport area to pay their workers all service charges collected from hotel customers. The ordinance addressed the growing practice of hotels charging guests—particularly banquet and room service customers—a mandatory charge of up to 22% on top of the traditional hotel bill for food and services, but not passing it on to the workers.

The hotels refused to comply with the ordinance and challenged it on the ground that the City of Los Angeles lacked the authority to regulate this issue.  The Court of Appeal disagreed and upheld the validity and enforceability of the ordinance.  After further litigation, DCB and co-counsel settled the class actions and hundreds of employees at five LAX area hotels are collecting several million dollars in compensation for the service charges.

September 11, 2013

DCB Attorney Paul More Honored as “Top 100 Lawyer” in California

The Daily Journal, a leading California legal newspaper, recognized DCB attorney Paul More as one of California’s “Top 100 Lawyers.”  The award honors “attorneys whose work is having the widest impact” and “is changing an industry or the law or the society as a whole.”  The Daily Journal cited More’s work on Ralphs Grocery Company v. United Food & Commercial Workers Local 8, 55 Cal.4th 1083 (2012), in which the California Supreme Court upheld two important state labor statutes over constitutional challenge. 

September 10, 2013

DCB welcomes new associate David Barber

Dave recently graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School.  He was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, where he represented tenants in eviction and post-foreclosure actions, as well as handling unemployment and disability benefits cases. As a law student, Dave interned at the U.S. Department of Labor and at the Prisoners’ Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society of New York.

March 29, 2013

DCB attorneys help get new Arizona anti-labor laws overturned

 DCB attorney Andrew Kahn, representing UFCW Local 99, was part of the legal team representing various unions in federal lawsuits striking down two bills recently enacted by the Arizona Legislature.  SB 1365 would have forced unions to collect new signatures from every member every year before the union could spend any money on lobbying or politics.  The Court agreed with UFCW that as to private sector unions this statute was preempted by the NLRA, and as to all unions this statute violated the First Amendment.  In SB 1363, the Legislature sought to create new restrictions on union activities (such as barring enforcement of long-term dues deduction agreements if the employee wishes to revoke the agreement in mid-term) and give employers additional onerous remedies for enforcing existing laws.  The Court found most of this statute to be NLRA-preempted and to violate the First Amendment.   United Food & Commercial Workers Local 99 v. Bennett, __ F. Supp. 2d ___, 2013 WL 1289781 (D.Ariz., Mar. 29, 2013).  The decision is not being appealed by the State.

December 27, 2012

California Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality of Laws Protecting Right to Picket on Private Property in Labor Disputes

In a 6-1 decision, the California Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of two California laws—one protecting the right of labor demonstrators to picket on privately-owned property and the other creating stringent requirements for employers seeking injunctions during labor disputes—in Ralphs Grocery Company v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 8, Case No. S185544, – Cal.4th – (Dec. 27, 2012). Paul More argued the case for the Union.  The Union had picketed a non-union grocery store, publicizing the store's failure to pay family health benefits and urging customers to shop elsewhere. After the Court of Appeal held that the two statutes protecting the rights of the picketers were unconstitutional, the Supreme Court reversed.  It rejected the store’s argument that the statutes violated the First Amendment because they protect only labor-related speech, and upheld unions’ right to peacefully picket on private property open to the public.

The decision is available here.

http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S185544.PDF

News articles about the decision:

California Supreme Court upholds picketing at store entrance, Sacramento Bee, Dec. 28, 2012

http://www.sacbee.com/2012/12/28/5079329/california-supreme-court-upholds.html

Union pickets gain special protections from state justices, Los Angeles Times, Dec. 27, 2012

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-court-picket-20121228,0,1261255.story

Unions can picket, state high court rules, San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 27, 2012

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Unions-can-picket-state-high-court-rules-4150187.php

 

October 02, 2012

Plaintiffs Fight Off Wal-Mart’s Latest Attempt to Get Class Action Tossed

 The District Court rejected Wal-Mart’s motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ amended complaint challenging gender discrimination in Wal-Mart’s retail store pay and management promotion policies and practices in Wal-Mart’s regions located in whole or in part in California.  Plaintiffs will next file to have the class certified.  Judge Breyer’s decision can be found here.  To learn more about the Wal-Mart class action, go to www.walmartclass.com.

October 01, 2012

District Court Certifies Costco Class Again

District Court Judge Edward Chen ruled that the case against Costco for sex discrimination would go forward as a class action.  The case was first certified in 2007, but Costco appealed that certification to the Ninth Circuit, which then sent the case back to the District Court to consider changes in the law after the Wal-Mart Supreme Court decision.  Judge Chen certified two classes: 1) an injunctive relieve class of all women who are currently employed or who will be employed at any Costco warehouse in the U.S. since January 3, 2002 who have been subject to Costco’s system for promotion to Assistant General Manager and/or General Manager positions; and 2) a monetary relief class of all women who have been employed at any Costco warehouse in the U.S. since January 3, 2002 who have been subject to Costco’s system for promotion to Assistant General Manager and/or General Manager positions.  The decision can be found here.  For more information, visit www.genderdiscriminationagainstCostco.com

April 27, 2012

Asian Law Caucus Honors DCB as Pro Bono Firm of the Year

The Asian Law Caucus honored DCB as its Pro Bono Firm of the Year at its 40th Anniversary celebration.  DCB is co-counsel with the Asian Law Caucus on a class action lawsuit representing Vietnamese women workers in the nail salon industry in San Mateo County.

October 27, 2011

Plaintiffs File Amended Complaint in Wal-Mart Class Action

Plaintiffs in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores have filed an amended complaint in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging gender discrimination in Wal-Mart’s retail store pay and management promotion policies and practices in Wal-Mart’s regions located in whole or in part in California.

A copy of the amended complaint is available here.

To learn more about the Wal-Mart class action, go to www.walmartclass.com.

October 20, 2011

DCB Recently Defeated Two Attempts to Enjoin its Clients From Picketing and Demonstrating.

UNITE HERE Local 1 in Chicago has a long-running contract dispute with the Park Hyatt Chicago.  During a strike in July 2011, Local 1 picketed the entrance to the Park Hyatt hotel and the entrance to condominiums in the same building.  A Regional Director of the NLRB issued a complaint alleging that Local 1’s picketing of the condominiums violated the NLRA’s prohibition on secondary boycotts, and also filed a petition in federal district court seeking a preliminary injunction.  On October 18, 2011, after DCB conducted discovery into the condominiums residents’ use of the Park Hyatt hotel’s facilities and services, the Regional Director moved to withdraw the petition for injunctive relief.

UNITE HERE Local 11 has a labor dispute with the recently remodeled Bel Air hotel in the tony Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.  Local 11 planned to demonstrate on the day that the hotel reopened to guests, but did not apply for a parade permit from the City of Los Angeles.  Two days before the planned demonstration, the Bel Air applied for a temporary restraining order.  After a hearing, the Los Angeles Superior Court denied the Bel Air’s request for a TRO because, among the reasons, the Bel Air did not prove that a demonstration on the public street would affect its property.

October 17, 2011

DCB Welcomes New Associate Kyrsten Skogstad to its San Francisco Office

DCB welcomes new associate Kyrsten Skogstad to its San Francisco office.  Kyrsten recently graduated from Washington University in Saint Louis School of Law with honors.  During law school she was an AFL-CIO Law Student Union Summer Fellow and through the program clerked for the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  As a law student, she also interned at the Department of Labor in Washington, DC and at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation in East Saint Louis, Illinois. 
 
She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Duke University where she majored in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy and minored in Arabic.  During her time at Duke she was a core organizer for her university’s chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops and participated in many UNITE HERE and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) campaigns.  Prior to Law School she worked in the Refugee and Immigrant Program at The Advocates for Human Rights in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

October 07, 2011

UK Court Throws Out Billionaire’s Defamation Lawsuit

In Adelson v. Anderson, [2011] EWHC 2497 (QB), the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, in London granted UNITE HERE’s application to strike out in their entirety Sheldon Adelson’s and Las Vegas Sands Inc’s defamation claims against UNITE HERE and its Director of International Affairs, Debbie Anderson.  The Court also ordered Adelson and Las Vegas Sands to pay the defendants’ attorney’s  costs of defending the claims.  The action arose out of a presentation made by Anderson at a “fringe” (breakout) meeting of about 100 people held in conjunction with a Labour Party congress in 2004.  Anderson described various aspects of Sheldon Adelson’s and Las Vegas Sands’ history, including unsuccessful litigation against UNITE HERE’s Las Vegas affiliates, Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165.  The presentation also raised matters relating to the business practices of Adelson’s flagship Las Vegas hotel, the Venetian, including a Nevada Gaming Commission fine against the Venetian for rigging games in 2004.  Some fifteen months after Ms. Anderson gave her presentation, Adelson and Las Vegas Sands sued UNITE HERE and Anderson in the UK for defamation.  In dismissing the case, the Court agreed that Adelson lacked of real interest in pursuing it in light of the long delays in bringing and prosecuting it, concluding that “what is now at stake in this action does not justify the deployment of [the Court’s] resources.”

September 13, 2011

Ninth Circuit Orders NLRB to Find Violation

In Local Joint Executive Bd. of Las Vegas v. NLRB, __ F.3d __, 2011 WL 4031208 (9th Cir. 2011), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the NLRB’s policy that employers may unilaterally terminate dues checkoff after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement without first bargaining with the union is irrational when applied in states where union security is prohibited.  The court ordered the NLRB to find that the former owner of the Hacienda and Sahara hotels in Las Vegas committed an unfair labor practice in 1995 when it stopped dues checkoff for Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 during a contentious bargaining dispute.  The ruling is very unusual and is the product of 16 years of litigation, three NLRB decisions and three Court of Appeals decisions.  Ordinarily, the federal courts of appeals do not tell the NLRB how to interpret the NLRA or declare any conduct to be illegal where the NLRB has not found a violation.  The court took this step only because the NLRB failed three times to provide a rational explanation for its rule, instead relying solely on the length of time it has been in effect.

August 19, 2011

District Court Sets Deadline for Wal-Mart Class Members

The district court issued an order on August 19, 2011 setting deadlines for former class members in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores to file a lawsuit or a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.   Former class members who have received a right to sue letter from the EEOC for claims of pay and management promotion discrimination must file suit by October 28, 2011. 

To learn more about the Wal-Mart class action, go to www.walmartclass.com.

June 20, 2011

The Battle Against Wal-Mart: What’s Next?

On June 20, 2011, the Supreme Court reversed the class certification decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. While the plaintiffs and class counsel are disappointed at the decision, our battle for equal opportunity for women at Wal-Mart will continue.

The Supreme Court’s decision addressed only whether a nationwide class action could go forward. It did not rule on whether Wal-Mart discriminated against women, nor whether you may pursue an individual claim of sex discrimination.

If you worked at Wal-Mart Store at any time since December 26, 1998 and were denied equal pay or promotion to store management positions, it is important that you act promptly to protect your rights to pursue your claim.

To learn more about the Wal-Mart class action, go to www.walmartclass.com.

May 23, 2011

DCB Welcomes its Summer Interns

We are pleased to welcome our summer interns to our San Francisco office.  Carmen Comsti is in her third year of law school at UC Berkeley School of Law, where she is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law. At UC Berkeley, she co-founded the Campus Rights Project, a student run civil rights defense clinic, where she supports students and workers on campus in political activity. Prior to law school, she also worked with the Virginia Organizing Project on living wage campaigns in Virginia.  Daniel Rojas is a rising third-year student at Stanford Law School.  He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara for his undergraduate education where he majored in Political Science and minored in English, Spanish, and History.  During his law school career, he has been able to help working families as a volunteer in the Immigration Pro Bono program and as an Equal Justice Access Fellow at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto.  He is lead editor on the Stanford Technology Law Review and former Co-Chair of the Stanford Latino Law Students Association.

March 29, 2011

Oral Argument in Historic Wal-Mart Class Action

Ten years ago, DCB and its co-counsel filed suit against Wal-Mart Stores, the largest private employer in America, on behalf of its female retail employees, alleging that the company discriminated against the women in pay and promotion opportunities.  After years of hard fought litigation, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument the Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. case on March 29, 2011.

Despite four lower court rulings upholding class certification, the Supreme Court will now determine whether or not this case will go to trial  as a class action, and in turn, whether or not thousands of aggrieved women will finally get their day in court to seek justice.  The decision is expected by the end of June.
 
To learn more about the Wal-Mart class action, go to www.walmartclass.com.

March 25, 2011

NLRB Recognizes Employees’ Right to Handbill on Other Employers’ Property

In New York, New York, LLC, 356 NLRB No. 119 (2011), the NLRB held that employees of a restaurant subcontractor have the right under the NLRA to handbill on the property of the Las Vegas casino New York, New York, although they are employees of the restaurant subcontractor and not of the casino, which owns the property where they work.  The NLRB used the case as a vehicle to announce a new test for determining whether employees of someone other than the owner of the property where they work have a right to communicate with each other and customers on the property.

DCB represented the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 before the Board and in earlier phases of this litigation—New York, New York Hotel & Casino, 334 NLRB 762  &  334 NLRB 772 (2001) and New York, New York, LLC, 313 F.3d 585 (D.C. Cir. 2002).

January 10, 2011

Court of Appeal Upholds Innovative Prevailing Wage Statute

In Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building & Construction Trades Council et al. v. Cypress Marina Heights LP, 191 Cal.App.4th 1500 (2011), the California Court of Appeal upheld an innovative prevailing wage statute promulgated by the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA), a regional redevelopment agency established to oversee the transition of the Fort Ord military base to civilian use.  The Court held that FORA could obligate private contractors to pay prevailing wages in the redevelopment of Fort Ord through inclusion of this obligation in deed covenants transferring the land.  The Court also held that labor unions and associations of union contractors had standing to enforce the prevailing wage deed covenant.

The decision is the first in California recognizing that labor rights can be enforced through deed covenants.  The Court also upheld the trial court’s grant of attorneys’ fees to the Plaintiffs, who initiated the lawsuit after FORA declined to enforce the deed covenants itself. 

DCB represented the Plaintiffs in all phases of the litigation.

September 08, 2010

Appellate Court Upholds Los Angeles Service Charge Ordinance

In Garcia v. Four Points Sheraton LAX, the California Court of Appeal upheld the City of Los Angeles “service charge” ordinance against a variety of constitutional challenges mounted by the hotel industry.  The Court of Appeal reversed the Los Angeles Superior Court, which refused to enforce the ordinance on the grounds that it was preempted by California state law. 

The service charge ordinance was originally conceived by DCB attorney Rich McCracken.  It fills a huge gap in the law.  California Labor Code section 351 requires employers to let employees keep the tips they receive.  But “service charges” added to bills for banquets, room service, luggage handling and other hospitality services have been held not to be “tips”.  As a result, many hotels and restaurants simply pocket all or part of these charges even though guests think that the money is going to the employees providing the service.  Then the guests tend not to tip the employees because they think the employees are already being compensated through the service charges. 

The Council acted to correct this situation.  Its ordinance requires that all service charges go to the workers providing the services.

When actions were filed to enforce the ordinance, the hotels responded by arguing that it was unconstitutional under the California and U.S. constitutions.  They argued that it was preempted by the state tip statute and also that it was a violation of equal protection, unconstitutionally vague and a “taking” of their property.  The Superior Court agreed that the ordinance was preempted by the tip statute.  The Court of Appeal disagreed.  It rejected the hotels’ contention that the legislative intent behind the tip statute was to guarantee to employers all income from customers except tips and held that Los Angeles is free to regulate what happens to service charges.  The court also ruled that it was proper for the City Council to single out the LAX corridor hotels because of their location and profitability.  It noted that the hotels themselves had caused a special district to be formed for their benefit.  The court also dismissed the hotels’ other constitutional arguments.  Among other points, the court said that it was not unconstitutional to exempt unionized hotels from the ordinance because unionized workers are better able to protect their interests.

DCB attorneys defended the ordinance in the superior and appellate courts, along with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and Hadsell Stormer Keeny Richardson & Renick.

For more information on this law, please go to www.servicechargesforhotelworkers.com.

April 27, 2010

Largest Discrimination Lawsuit in U.S. History Gets Green Light

After nearly a decade of pre-trial wrangling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled today in a 137-page decision that hundreds of thousands of female Wal-Mart current and former employees who have worked at Wal-Mart stores at any time since June 2001 are entitled to proceed with a massive class action lawsuit charging sex discrimination by America’s largest retailer.

The case (Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.), which Davis, Cowell & Bowe and other co-counsel has been litigating for 10 years, alleges systematic discrimination against women in compensation and promotions at Wal-Mart and its subsidiary, Sam’s Club, throughout the United States. It is the largest civil rights class action in history.

In announcing the decision today, a majority of the judges, who heard the case, found that it was a proper class action for female employees who have worked at Wal-Mart since the suit was filed in June 8, 2001. The class can seek lost pay and injunctive relief. It sent the case back to the lower court to determine whether women who were employed prior to that date may be part of the class and whether the class can seek punitive damages.

For more information on this law, please go to www.walmartclass.com.

January 31, 2010

The Alameda County Superior Court issued a rebuke to Governor Schwarzenegger's order fuloughing all state employees for three days per month regardless of the employees' funding source.  Davis, Cowell & Bowe represented the Union of American Physicians and Dentists in the case and argued that the furlough order, as applied to "special fund" or federally funded state employees, was an abuse of discretion, violated state statutes, and interfered with the various state agencies' ability to deliver needed state services. The court agreed and issued a writ of mandate commanding the State to cease furloughing the employees represented in the suit.  Articles about the case have appeared in various newspapers: http://www.sacbee.com/budget/story/2431574.html; www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-furlough1-2010jan01,0,2238571.story

November 23, 2009

In Coast Hotels Ltd. v. UNITE HERE, WIPO Case No. D2009-1295 (2009), the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Arbitration and Mediation Center found the Union’s domain names were being used for legitimate non-commercial purposes in the Center’s first-ever case involving a union website critical of an employer. The Center, a United Nations agency that regulates the use of domain names by entities internationally, rejected the complaint filed by Coast Hotels, which argued that the Union had violated its trademark rights. The Union, represented by Davis, Cowell & Bowe, argued that it was making a fair, non-commercial use of the domain names www.coasthotels-badforbc.org and www.coasthotels-badforbc.info. The WIPO Center agreed, in a landmark decision that incorporated principles of international law, while also seeking to harmonize national laws and prior Center decisions. It found that the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights both recognize free speech and freedom of opinion, and that these were international, and not simply American, legal principles. The decision is available at: http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/decisions/html/2009/d2009-1295.html

November 12, 2009

In UNITE HERE Local 26 v. South Bay Boston Management, Inc., 587 F.3d 35 (2009), the First Circuit Court of Appeals held, as a matter of first impression in the federal appellate courts, that first contract interest arbitration clauses in a card-check neutrality agreements are enforceable. The Court also rejected the employer’s federal preemption claim as time-barred and compelled the employer to submit to interest arbitration even though the card-check agreement had expired. Davis Cowell & Bowe represented UNITE HERE Local 26 in the litigation.

September 10, 2009

We are saddened by the death of Roland C. Davis, one of the firm's founding partners. Roland will always be remembered as a true pioneer in the field, well respected by both friends and adversaries. An obituary for Roland was published in the San Jose Mercury News and may be viewed here.

July 27, 2009

In a landmark decision, the Ninth Circuit ruled that individual business owners may be held liable for federal minimum wage and overtime violations and that their liability is not cut off when their company files a bankruptcy petition. Boucher v. Shaw, 572 F.3d 1087 (9th Cir. July 27, 2009). Davis, Cowell & Bowe represented Plaintiffs in the case.

January 12, 2009

DCB welcomes Sarah Grossman-Swenson to its San Francisco office. A recent graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, Sarah was co-editor-in-chief of the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law.

October 23, 2008

A California court granted the Monterey/Santa Cruz Counties Building & Construction Trades Council summary judgment on its claims that workers redeveloping the former Fort Ord on the Monterey Peninsula must be paid at prevailing wage rates. The judge’s ruling covers some $800 million in current and proposed commercial and residential construction work on the former military base. Monterey/Santa Cruz Building & Construction Trades Council et al. v. Marina Community Partners et al., No. M81343 (Cal. Sup. Ct. 2008).

DCB represented the Trades Council in all phases of the litigation.

October 09, 2008

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict in favor of Alexandra Cerpe in her lawsuit for sexual harassment and retaliatory discharge against the Fred A. Smith Management Company. Fred A. Smith Management Co. v. Cerpe, 957 A.2d 907 (D.C. 2008) The Court of Appeals also upheld the jury's award of compensatory and punitive damages.

The appeal was litigated by DCB and Murphy Anderson PLLC.

September 25, 2008

The Arizona Supreme Court upheld the Arizona Homeowners’ Bill of Rights initiative petition over constitutional and statutory challenges, clearing the way for the initiative to appear on the November 2008 ballot. Wilhelm v. Brewer, 219 Ariz. 45, 192 P.3d 404 (Ariz. 2008). The Homeowners Bill of Rights contains innovative consumer protections, including a mandatory ten-year warranty on new homes and a homeowner right to select the contractor to make defect repairs, a requirement that sellers disclose their relationships with financial institutions, and an obligation that model homes accurately reflect what is for sale.

DCB represented the Homeowners' Bill of Rights Committee, a coalition of labor and community groups, in developing and defending the initiative.

July 29, 2008

In Parra v. Bashas’, Inc., 536 F.3d 975 (9th Cir. 2008), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court ruling and held that current and former Hispanic workers at Bashas’ grocery stores had established commonality in their class action claims that Bashas’ engaged in pay discrimination in violation of Title VII. The Court of Appeals held that the plaintiffs had presented “extensive evidence showing Bashas', Inc.'s discriminatory pay practices commonly affected all members of the proposed class.”

The class is represented by DCB and the Impact Fund.

December 28, 2007

DCB attorneys this month won two decisions from California courts of appeal: in Plumbers Local 290 v. Rea, the court agreed with the union's interpretation of state prevailing wage laws as covering construction on common areas of a privately-owned office building where a public agency was leasing most of the building's office space. The court rejected the contrary view of the State Department of Industrial Relations. The court also awarded the union its attorneys' fees under the private attorney general doctrine.

In Rubalcava v. City of Los Angeles and UNITE HERE Local 11, the appellate court reversed a trial court's invalidation of a new ordinance setting a living wage requirement for hotels near LAX airport. The trial court had relied on the fact that an earlier ordinance also setting such a requirement had been rescinded in response to a referendum petition containing the necessary number of signatures to put the issue on the ballot. The appellate court held the differences between the new and old ordinances were significant enough that the constitutional right to referendum had not been violated by the City. (The City added assistance to the airport zone and promised not to regulate wages in other zones without first finding those zones met certain criteria).

September 13, 2007

DCB Files Class Action Lawsuits Against LAX-Area Hotels

Employees at eight LAX-area hotels – the Four Points, Marriott, Renaissance, Embassy Suites, Courtyard, Westin, Hilton and Radisson – filed class action lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior Court. The complaints, filed September 5, 2007, charge the hotels with violating a recently enacted city law requiring LAX area hotels to pay to their employees all tips and services fees collected on their behalf. Despite the law, the hotels have continued to pocket the fees that they are collecting on behalf of their employees.

For more information about the class action lawsuits, go to www.servicechargesforhotelworkers.com.

July 20, 2007

Union representation victory in Pittsburgh

UNITE HERE Local 57 was today certified as the collective bargaining representative of the workers at the Pittsburgh Renaissance Hotel. The certification was based on a check of authorization cards revealing that a majority of the workers want UNITE HERE to represent them.

This certification comes after a long struggle by the workers and the union. The hotel and the union signed an organizing agreement in 2001 that provided, among other things, that the employer would remain neutral with respect to its workers’ decision whether to join a union and that it would respect that choice by means of a card check. After receiving benefits under the agreement, the hotel announced it was reneging on its own promises to its workers and declared the agreement void. The union sued to enforce the agreement in federal court in Pittsburgh, where it prevailed, and the hotel appealed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the union’s position. Its landmark published opinion, written by then-Judge Michael Chertoff, rejected the hotel’s arguments, including ones that had been advanced by opponents of card check/neutrality agreements—and even a member of the National Labor Relations Board. First, the court held that federal labor law did not preempt the city’s labor-peace ordinance, which sought to protect the city’s investment in particular hospitality projects by requiring the project owner to get a labor-peace guaranty. Second, the court rejected the argument that Section 302 of the Taft Hartley Act renders unlawful agreements between employers and unions to set guidelines for employee organizing, including neutrality and card-check recognition. The Supreme Court denied the hotel’s request for additional review. Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, Local 57 v. Sage Hospitality Resources, LCC, 390 F.3d 206 (3rd Cir. 2004), certiorari den. 544 U.S. 1010, 125 S.Ct. 1944, 161 L.Ed.2d 792, 177 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2192 (2005).

June 19, 2007

Major First Amendment victory for labor

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today denied enforcement to an NLRB order against union protest. Sheet Metal Workers Local 15 v. NLRB (Brandon Regional Medical Center), 491 F.3d 429 (D.C. Cir. 2007). This breakthrough decision holds that unions enjoy the same First Amendment rights as other protestors, even when they protest “secondary” entities who do business with employers in a labor dispute.

The case involved a mock funeral conducted by five members of the Sheet Metal Workers outside a Tampa-area hospital. The hospital used non-union contractors on its construction of a new hospital wing. The Union saw this policy as part of a “culture of corporate greed that also affects patient care." Its mock funeral criticized the Hospital’s patient care record. The funeral was peaceful, orderly, and non-threatening.

The NLRB nevertheless proceeded against the funeral as an unlawful secondary boycott. The NLRB convinced the 11th Circuit to affirm an interim injunction on this ground. On review of the final NLRB order, however, the D.C. Circuit held that the mock funeral enjoyed First Amendment protection as much as if it had been conducted by an anti-abortion group or environmentalist group.

Read how management-side law firms from Indiana to Baltimore are describing this decision.

The D.C. Circuit also rejected the NLRB’s rule that unions must give construction site owners advance assurance that their picketing will honor reserved gates.

UPDATE: Read the article in Slate decribing the decision.

We are pleased to announce that Davis, Cowell & Bowe, LLP has changed its name to McCracken, Stemerman & Holsberry, LLP. There is no change in personnel, and will continue working from the same offices in San Francisco and Las Vegas.