Meyers Nave Announces New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Co-Chairs

Meyers Nave is pleased to announce that Principal, David Mehretu and Senior Associate, Neha Shah have been appointed to serve as co-chairs of the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. Fellow members of the Diversity Steering Committee also include Camille Hamilton Pating, Principal/Chair of the Labor and Employment Group, and Barbara Domingo, Director of Administration.

David Mehretu is an experienced trial attorney who represents private and public entities in high impact litigation in federal and state court, administrative proceedings, and appeals with an emphasis on complex, high-profile, and politically significant matters often covered by the media. David is a member of the Trial & Litigation, and Labor & Employment Law Practice Groups. David is a member of the Ethiopian American Foundation, which supports higher education and related development activities in Ethiopia, Asante Africa Foundation, a global team committed to providing programs that support education, gender equality, and entrepreneurship in East Africa, and the Charles Houston Bar Association, an affiliate of the National Bar Association representing the interests of African American lawyers, judges and law students throughout Northern California.

Neha Shah is a senior associate handling a broad range of public and private labor and employment matters with an emphasis on traditional labor relations, advice and counsel, and workplace investigations. She is a member of the Labor & Employment Law and Workplace Investigations Practice Groups. Neha is active in giving back to the community and served as the first director for Ms. JD’s Global Education Fund. Under her tenure, the Global Education Fund was able to increase its impact by offering additional full-ride scholarships to women law students at Makerere University in Uganda. Most recently she served on the Board of Directors for the South Asian Bar Association of Southern California’s Public Interest Foundation and the leadership committee for the International Rescue Committee, Los Angeles GenR Chapter. Currently, she is a committee member for the South Asian Bar Association of North America’s National Racial Justice Task Force.

Los Angeles Business Journal Names Deborah Fox to 2023 List of Women of Influence: Attorneys

The Los Angeles Business Journal named Deborah Fox, the Chair of Meyers Nave’s statewide First Amendment and Trial & Litigation Practice Groups, to its 2023 list of “Women of Influence: Attorneys”. The feature profiles women who “have been recognized for exceptional legal skill and achievement across the full spectrum of responsibility, exemplary leadership as evidenced by the highest professional and ethical standards, and for contributions to the Los Angeles community at large.”

The LABJ noted that Deborah “is one of California’s leading experts on First Amendment issues. She has expertise with cases involving the convergence of First Amendment, land use, and zoning laws. She is highly sought-after for high-impact litigation and crisis management and her constitutional work typically involves complex cases with overarching social justice components.” Deborah’s recent work with statewide ramifications was highlighted along with her role on Meyers Nave’s Executive Committee.

Learn more about Deborah and her practice.

View the LABJ’s 2023 Women of Influence: Attorneys.

Meyers Nave Secures Victory for City of Oakland as Court of Appeal Upholds EIR for A’s Baseball Stadium Project

In a lengthy published decision, the Court of Appeal upheld the City of Oakland’s environmental impact report (EIR) for the proposed Oakland A’s MLB stadium and mixed use project, rejecting numerous challenges and affirming the trial court’s decision in full. Meyers Nave represented the City of Oakland in the litigation and advised during the development of the EIR in the administrative process.

Subject to expedited judicial review under a special statute for the project (AB 734), the Court of Appeal decision was issued less than a year after the EIR challenge was filed in the trial court. The decision provides detailed guidance on many important issues under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), including:

  • Deferred Mitigation: The Court of Appeal soundly rejected numerous claims that mitigation for the Project’s greenhouse gas impacts (GHG), hazardous materials and other impacts was improperly deferred.
  • Exhaustion: The Court of Appeal discussed the level of detail required to exhaust administrative remedies before the agency, rejecting claims related to the Project’s rail safety and other impacts.
  • Speculation: The decision affirmed the EIR’s approach regarding the speculative nature of impacts associated with displaced tenants from the Project site.

The Court of Appeal also addressed substantive issues related to GHG impacts, analysis and mitigation of at-grade rail crossings, hazardous materials and cumulative impacts analysis. Overall, the decision is a resounding affirmation that the City’s EIR complied with CEQA requirements.

The Meyers Nave team included Shaye Diveley and Tim Cremin. Learn more about our Land Use and Environmental Law expertise.

Four Meyers Nave Attorneys Recognized in 2023 San Diego Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Lists

Four Meyers Nave attorneys were recently selected for inclusion in the 2023 San Diego Super Lawyers list and the 2023 San Diego Rising Stars list.

The Meyers Nave lawyers ranked include:

  • Janice P. Brown – Employment Litigation, Employment & Labor, Business Litigation
  • Suzanne K. Roten – Employment Litigation, Employment & Labor
  • Arlene R. Yang – Employment & Labor, Employment Litigation, General Litigation

Rising Stars

The Super Lawyers list is a rating service that recognizes outstanding lawyers across more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high level of peer recognition and professional accomplishment. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations. Only up to 5% of lawyers in California are named to the Super Lawyers list, and up to 2.5% are named to the Rising Stars list.

This recognition reflects Meyers Nave’s commitment to providing exceptional legal services and underscores the team’s dedication to excellence in their respective areas of specialization.

5 Things Water Utilities Should Know About the EPA’s Recent Proposal Establishing Legal Limits for Certain PFAS Substances in Drinking Water

On March 14, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) to establish legally enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for six PFAS substances (the “Proposed Regulation”). The EPA will hold a webinar about the PFAS NDPWR for water utilities on March 29 to provide information regarding the Proposed Regulation, as reflected on the U.S. EPA webpage here.

Here are five key things you should know about the Proposed Regulation, and how it may impact water utilities going forward:

  1. The EPA has proposed a regulation to establish MCLs for six PFAS substances in drinking water.
  2. The proposed MCL for PFOA and PFOS is 4 parts per trillion, and the proposed regulation uses a hazard index calculation to limit any mixture containing one or more of PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and/or GenX Chemicals.
  3. The EPA plans to finalize the regulation by the end of 2023, and public water systems will be required to monitor for these chemicals, notify the public of PFAS levels, and reduce PFAS if levels exceed the proposed regulatory standards. Drinking water suppliers will be subject to MCL limitations, and if the proposed rule is adopted, water systems with PFAS levels that exceed the proposed MCLs would need to take action to provide safe and reliable drinking water.
  4. Comments on the new regulation must be submitted to the public docket during the 60-day public comment period following the proposed rules being published in the Federal Register.
  5. EPA is also proposing health-based, non-enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLGs) for the six PFAS. These levels represent the maximum level of a contaminant in drinking water where there are no known or anticipated negative health effects. The proposed MCLG for PFOA and PFOS is any amount above zero.

Also, the new proposed rule signals other likely impacts to NPDES permits, waste discharge requirements, and site clean-ups in California because new MCL standards affect each of these programs.

Key Takeaways

Water utilities will want to attend the upcoming EPA webinar, submit comments during the comment period, and begin to evaluate potential obligations, such as identifying alternative uncontaminated sources of water or designing water treatment systems that EPA believes are feasible.

If you have any questions about the Proposed Regulation and how it may impact your operations, please contact a member of Meyers Nave’s Water Law team.

Meyers Nave Welcomes Senior Of Counsel Janine M. Braxton

Meyers Nave announces the addition of Janine M. Braxton as Senior Of Counsel in the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice. Janine will join the firm’s San Diego office later this year.

Janine advises and defends employers in all aspects of California labor and employment law and litigation, including wage and hour class and representative PAGA actions, discrimination, retaliation, harassment, wrongful termination, and other labor code violations. She routinely defends employers in actions filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Civil Rights Department (CRD) (formerly known as the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing), and the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Additionally, Janine assists clients with developing, implementing, and auditing their employment policies and practices, and she provides effective recommendations to avoid risk and litigation. She also spent several years as a workplace investigator.

Managing Principal David Skinner states: “Janine brings a decade of experience in handling workplace investigations, class action litigation and other high impact issues on behalf of employers. We are thrilled to have her join our dynamic Labor & Employment Group.”

Active in the legal community, Janine serves on the Labor and Employment Executive Committee for the California Lawyers Association (CLA), currently sitting on the Mentorship, Law Review, Wage and Hour and Marketing subcommittees. From 2020-2022, she served as a California Young Lawyers Association liaison to the CLA Labor and Employment Executive Committee. Janine is a member of National Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA) and served as the interim president and current secretary for the Northern California LERA Chapter. She is a member of the Sacramento County Bar Association, recently completing terms as treasurer (2020-2021) and as an executive committee member (2019-2020) for the Labor and Employment Section.

“Janine’s arrival will expand Meyers Nave’s ability to deliver exceptional results in employment litigation and help us meet growing, continuing demand for Labor and Employment services. Janine is a leader and mentor who brings her commitment to excellence to everything she does,” said Camille Hamilton Pating, Chair of Meyer Nave’s Labor & Employment Practice.

Janine has been recognized as a “Rising Star” in the “Employment & Labor” category by Northern California Super Lawyers. She has published several articles in the California Lawyers Association’s Labor and Employment Law Review and in the National LERA Perspectives on Work magazine. She regularly presents on a variety of labor and employment law related topics. Janine received her J.D. from Lincoln Law School of Sacramento and her B.A. from the University of California, Davis.

About Meyers Nave

Founded in 1986, Meyers Nave is celebrating more than three decades of prominent clients, dedicated employees and precedent-setting work. Meyers Nave is a full-service California law firm providing transaction, litigation, regulatory compliance and general counsel legal services in more than 20 areas of law to corporations, public entities, non-profits and public-private partnerships. Learn more about Meyers Nave.

Ninth Circuit Blocks California’s AB 51, Reopening the Door for Mandatory Employment Arbitration

Mandatory Arbitration is Alive and Well

A big win for California employers was announced February 15, 2023, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America v. Bonta found that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts California legislature’s attempt to prohibit employers from requiring employees to arbitrate employment disputes by enacting AB 51.

This is important because arbitration agreements can facilitate the prompt resolution of employment-related disputes, and they provide an effective alternative to the lengthy and costly (for both employers and employees) process of litigation. The February 15, 2023 Bonta decision means that California employers can continue to implement arbitration agreements as a condition of employment.

How Did We Get Here?

It’s been a long and winding road.

In 2019, Governor Newsom signed AB 51 into law, and it was set to go into effect January 1, 2020. Among other things, AB 51 purported to ban employers from requiring applicants and employees as a condition of employment to sign arbitration agreements waiving their right to pursue Labor Code or California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) claims in court.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several other business groups filed suit for a preliminary injunction in federal district court, arguing the FAA preempted AB 51 and requested a temporary restraining order to halt enforcement while litigation was ongoing. Two days before AB 51 was set to go into effect, the temporary restraining order was granted. On January 31, 2020, the district court granted the preliminary injunction finding that AB 51 violated the FAA as it imposed a higher consent requirement and interfered with the FAA’s goal of promoting arbitration by threatening civil and criminal penalties against employers.

California appealed the district court’s decision to the Ninth Circuit. In a ruling in September 2021, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s decision in part, holding that the FAA did not preempt AB 51 to the extent it sought to regulate an employer’s conduct prior to executing an arbitration agreement.

The Chamber of Commerce then requested that the Ninth Circuit reconsider its September 2021 decision. Following a closely watched decision in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana, the Ninth Circuit withdrew its original decision in favor of a rehearing.

The Result

The Ninth Circuit’s February 15, 2023 decision in Bonta affirmed the district court’s grant of a preliminary injunction and held the FAA preempted AB 51 because it “stands as an obstacle to [further Congress’s policy of encouraging arbitration].”

What’s Next?

This may not be the last word, but for now, the latest Ninth Circuit decision in Bonta adds leverage to the position that employers can insist on mandatory arbitration agreements to resolve most employment-related disputes. We will keep you posted.

As always, employers should consult with legal counsel to discuss further.

Southern California Super Lawyers Names Five Meyers Nave Attorneys to 2023 List

Five Meyers Nave attorneys have been named to the 2023 Southern California Super Lawyers list, which appeared in the January 2023 issue of Southern California Super Lawyers magazine.

The Meyers Nave lawyers ranked include:

Only up to five percent of the lawyers in California are named to the Super Lawyers list. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Los Angeles Business Journal Names Amrit Kulkarni to 2023 List of Leaders of Influence: Minority Attorneys

The Los Angeles Business Journal has named Amrit Kulkarni, the Chair of the firm’s Land Use, Environmental Law, and Transportation and Infrastructure practice groups, to its 2023 list of “Leaders of Influence: Minority Attorneys.” The feature profiles “minority attorneys considered to be particularly impactful on the legal scene while serving as trusted advisors in the Los Angeles area.”

Amrit was noted as a “California infrastructure heavyweight, providing transaction and litigation counsel on many of the state’s and Los Angeles area’s highest profile, most complex, and sometimes controversial commercial and urban development projects.”

The LABJ highlighted Amrit’s experience serving local, state and national clients involved in the development of airports, passenger transit systems, freight rail networks, ports, highways, water resources, mixed-use residential developments, university campus expansions, and a wide range of commercial and industrial facilities. Amrit also provides transactional counsel during a project’s planning, development and implementation phases, as well as litigation expertise when clients need to defend or challenge a project.

Learn more about Amrit and his practice.

View the LABJ’s 2023 List of Leaders of Influence: Minority Attorneys.

The California Employer’s Guide to New 2023 Laws

As we have seen in just the past few weeks of the new year, laws are rapidly changing for employers. Following our Employment Law Update webinars provided to Private Sector and Non-Profit Employers, and Public Entity Employers, our Labor & Employment Team has provided an extensive 2023 Employment Law Update detailing new and evolving laws for all types of employers.

The 2023 Employment Law Update covers:

  • New pay transparency law
  • New rights to unpaid leave to care for a “designated person”
  • New law regarding marijuana use off-the-job
  • COVID-19 updates
  • Expanded requirements for private employers under the California Consumer Privacy Act

If you have any questions, please contact our attorneys.

Click here to download the 2023 Employment Law Update.