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New COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law

New COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law

On March 19, 2021, a new COVID-19 paid sick leave law was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, which allows California employees to receive up to two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave, in addition to regular paid sick leave, if they need to take time off for:

  • Self-isolation or self-quarantine;
  • Dealing with COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine;
  • Dealing with side effects, if any, of the COVID-19 vaccines;
  • Caring for family in self-isolation or self-quarantine; and
  • Care for a child whose place of care or school is not available due to COVID-19.

The new law—Senate Bill (SB) 95—is only applicable to those workers who work for businesses that employ 26 or more people and certain public entities. It does not cover rideshare drivers.

Under the new law, a full-time employee (or an employee who has worked on average 40 or more hours per week in the two weeks before leave is taken) is entitled to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave. Part-time employees with a normal weekly schedule is entitled to the total number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work for the employer over two weeks. Part-time employees with variable hours are entitled to 14 times the average number of hours worked day for the last six months before taking leave. The employer cannot require a covered employee to use any other paid or unpaid leave, paid time off, or vacation time before, or in lieu of, the COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave.

In 2020, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“Families First Act”) which provided leave protections and wage replacement benefits for workers during COVID-19.  Around the same time, California also enacted a COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave which allowed employees of companies with 500 or more employees to take approximately two weeks of paid sick leave due to COVID-19. Those supplemental paid leave programs ended on December 31, 2020, which left some employees with only three days of paid sick leave and eight weeks of paid family leave per year. 

This new COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law covers that gap, as it is retroactive to January 1, 2021. So, if any employee has taken any unpaid leave for any of the qualifying reasons, that employee is entitled to reimbursement.  The employee should make an oral or written request to the employer and the employer must issue the reimbursement payment on or before the payday for the next pay period. The new supplemental paid sick leave law will expire on September 30, 2021.

Other Questions?

If you have questions regarding legal issues arising from the ongoing pandemic, you may contact the Minami Tamaki Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force online or call us at 415-788-9000.

*The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.  Employers and employees should contact a licensed California attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.  Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Minami Tamaki LLP.  Any links contained in this article are only for the convenience of the reader, and do not constitute recommendations or endorsements of the contents of the third-party sites.

Remembering and Honoring Garrick Lew on the Fifth Anniversary of His Passing

Remembering and Honoring Garrick Lew on the Fifth Anniversary of His Passing

It was five years ago today on March 19, 2016, that we lost our dear friend and this firm’s former law partner Garrick S. Lew. His absence is still deeply felt to this day.

We remember Garrick on this anniversary with love to his family – wife Diane Hiura, sons Dillon and Brandon, father Share, sister Sherene, and brother Rictor and Rictor’s wife Patty.

Throughout his life, Garrick stayed true to the principles that guided his life: advancing justice, fighting for the underdog, mentoring young attorneys, and being fiercely loyal to family and friends.

Garrick, the first of three children, was born on July 25, 1950, in Oakland, Calif., to parents Share and Jennie Lew. A product of Oakland’s public schools, Garrick received his B.A. with Honors from the University of California, Berkeley in 1971, and his J.D. from UC Berkeley Law in 1974. From his first years as a student at Cal, he fought for the establishment of an ethnic studies program, demonstrated in the Third World Strike, and helped establish youth organizations in Oakland’s Chinatown.

Throughout his legal career, Garrick was an ardent champion of civil rights and social justice, and a staunch defender of those unable to defend themselves. As a fearless young lawyer, he represented Wendy Yoshimura, the fugitive who was caught with Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army. He was also part of the legal team fighting the eviction of tenants from the International Hotel, and provided pro bono services to demonstrators arrested in anti-Vietnam war protests.

It was out of this sense of justice and pride in his heritage as an Asian American that he helped establish the Asian Law Caucus while still a law student. Garrick later co-founded Minami, Tomine and Lew, one of the first Asian American law firms in the country. The firm later became Minami Lew & Tamaki, and then Minami Tamaki LLP when Garrick started his own practice in 2006.

In his 42 years of practicing law, Garrick specialized in criminal defense trial work with a focus on complex white-collar cases, but also served on the federal court’s Criminal Justice Panel for 30 years, handling hundreds of cases for indigent clients.

Garrick received numerous honors, awards, and recognitions for his professional accomplishments. He was also one of the funniest people alive, sometimes unintentionally.

To honor Garrick’s lifetime of accomplishments, the MTYKL Foundation established the Garrick S. Lew Legacy Fund. Because of the generosity of numerous donors to the Fund, the MTYKL Foundation was able to partner with the AABA Law Foundation in creating the Garrick S. Lew Fellowship, which awards $10,000 to a third-year law student committed to a criminal defense practice after graduation.

Garrick will always be greatly missed, and his legacy continues with those who walk the path he helped blaze.

Remembering the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on the 10th Anniversary

Remembering the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on the 10th Anniversary

The Great East Japan Earthquake hit Japan’s Tōhoku region ten years ago on March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. Japan Time (March 10, 9:46 p.m. Pacific Time).

15,900 people died from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. 9,500 people were missing in the aftermath of the disaster. A decade later, 2,500 people are still unaccounted for. More than 450,000 people became homeless as a result of the tsunami.

It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan and the fourth most powerful recorded earthquake in the world. The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that may have reached heights of up to 133 feet and traveled at 435 mph up to six miles inland.

The tsunami caused nuclear accidents, primarily the level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents.

The World Bank’s estimated economic cost was $235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in history.

Incredible progress has been made, but the area and its people have not fully recovered. Survivors continue to mourn the loss of their families and loved ones. A phone booth in a garden on a hill in the Japanese village of Otsuchi allows “phone calls” to those who perished. There have been 240 suicides in the past decade thought to be connected with the disaster. The nuclear power plant meltdown left large areas of mountains and forest that cannot be cleared of radioactive material. Entire towns remain unsafe.

Following the disaster, Minami Tamaki joined relief efforts led by JCCCNC and helped raise $490,000 in combined donations and matches. We received thousands of donations from individuals and from dozens of the professional, community and student organizations that hosted their own fundraising efforts.

The activities were so heartwarming: a 15-year-old student who organized her own concert; numerous t-shirt sales; restaurants donating a percentage of their profits; elementary school students dipping into their piggy banks and donating pounds of coins and even their birthday money; and even preschoolers and their families organizing a garage sale.

We remain grateful to this day for the incredible generosity and outpouring of support of those who contributed.

Tomorrow, March 11, at 3 p.m. Pacific Time, the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco will host a virtual event “Unshakable Friendship Beyond Borders: 10 Years Since the Great East Japan Earthquake” remember the victims of the disaster and to thank the people of the United States for their boundless support and encouragement. The program will include a minute of silence and feature inspiring stories of Japan-U.S. exchange following the disaster. The event is free and in English, but registration is required.

Minami Tamaki Investigating Seresto Flea and Tick Collars Linked to Death and Illness of Pets

Minami Tamaki Investigating Seresto Flea and Tick Collars Linked to Death and Illness of Pets

Minami Tamaki is investigating reports of numerous injuries and pet fatalities linked to the Seresto flea and tick collar.  According to United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) documents, Seresto collars have allegedly been linked to approximately 1,700 pet fatalities, 75,000 pet injury reports, and 1,000 reports of injuries to people.

The Seresto collar, developed by Bayer and now sold by Elanco, is a top-selling pet item used as a flea and tick repellant and for dogs and cats.  The collar works by releasing small amounts of pesticide onto the animal.  Bayers says that the pesticide is strong enough to kill fleas, tickets, and other pests, but that it is safe for dogs and cats. 

Consumers allege that the reports of death and injury linked to Serresto collars are disproportionately high when compared to similar products on the market.  Individuals have reported injuries to their pets ranging from rashes to neurological damage to, in extreme cases, death.  Consumers also report that humans can also suffer harm from close contact with pets wearing Seresto collars.  These injuries and side effects to humans include seizures, nasal and throat irritation, heart arrhythmia, and fatigue.  

EPA documents obtained through public record requests allegedly show that it has been aware of the dangers of Seresto collars, but that it has failed to take action to protect the public.

If you have purchased a Seresto flea and tick collar and would like more information on this investigation, you may contact Minami Tamaki Consumer and Employee Rights Group (CERG) members Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, and Claire Choo online or call us at 415-788-9000.

*The contents of this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or medical advice.  Information in this article may not constitute the most complete or up-to-date legal or other information.  Readers should contact a licensed California attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Minami Tamaki LLP.

Minami Tamaki Investigating Accellion Data Breach

Minami Tamaki Investigating Accellion Data Breach

Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating reports of a data breach tied to Accellion, Inc. (“Accellion”), a Palo Alto, California-based file transfer and service company.  

Accellion’s flagship product, File Transfer Appliance (“FTA”), is a platform used for “secure” third-party transfers of computer files.  In January 2021, Accellion reported that unauthorized third parties had infiltrated the FTA platform used by numerous companies and organizations.  Accellion described FTA as “a 20-year-old product nearing end-of-life.” 

Supermarket chain Kroger announced on February 19, 2021, that an unauthorized person gained access to Kroger files by exploiting a vulnerability in Accellion’s file transfer service.  Accellion confirmed unauthorized access to the data and personal information of Kroger Health and Kroger Money Services customers.  Kroger announced that it has discontinued the use of Accellion’s services, reported the incident to federal law enforcement, and initiated its own forensic investigation to review the potential scope and impact of the incident.    

Washington State officials have announced that the data of more than one million residents was exposed through the Accellion data breach within the Office of the Washington State Auditor.  Washington State residents have alleged that the data breach revealed their personal information, including their name, social security number and/or driver’s license or state identification number, bank account number and bank routing number, and place of employment. 

Accellion previously announced a security breach at the University of Colorado.  The exposed data may include the personally identifiable information of students, prospective students, and employees.  Health and clinical data and research data may also have been exposed through the data breach.

Other entities reportedly impacted by the Accellion data breach include the law firm Jones Day, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Accellion contends that it was the target of a sophisticated cyberattack.  However, critics allege that it failed to properly secure its platform and continued to market and sell the FTA product knowing it was outdated and vulnerable. 

Companies and organizations who have suffered these data breaches are in the process of notifying affected individuals.  If you were impacted by an Accellion data breach and wish to discuss this matter, you may contact Minami Tamaki Consumer and Employee Rights Group attorneys Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, and Claire Choo at (415) 788-9000 or through our online form.  We look forward to the opportunity to speak with you.

Guidance for Employers on COVID-19 Vaccinations

Guidance for Employers on COVID-19 Vaccinations

Widespread COVID-19 vaccination is considered essential for many employers to safely bring employees back to physical worksites.  This has raised questions about whether employers can require employees to get vaccinated as a condition of returning to the workplace.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently issued guidance on vaccination-related issues in the workplace.  Key guidance from the EEOC includes:

  • Employers can implement policies generally requiring that employees obtain COVID-10 vaccinations, but employers also must consider accommodations for employees who cannot be vaccinated due to disabilities or sincerely-held religious beliefs.
  • If the vaccination requirement screens out or tends to screen out an individual with a disability, the employer must show that an unvaccinated employee would pose a “direct threat” to the health or safety of other individuals.  A “direct threat” is defined as a “significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.”  Employers must conduct an individualized assessment in determining whether a direct threat exists.  This assessment considers:  1) the duration of the risk; 2) the nature and severity of the potential harm; 3) the likelihood that the potential harm will occur; and 4) the imminence of the potential harm. 
  • If the employer determines that the individual who cannot be vaccinated due to disability poses a direct threat at the worksite, the employer must determine whether it can provide a reasonable accommodation that would eliminate or reduce the risk so that the employee does not pose a direct threat in the workplace.  The employer must provide a reasonable accommodation if one exists, unless doing so would cause an “undue hardship” (i.e. impose significant expense or difficulty). 
  • Also, if an employer is on notice that an employee’s sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance prevents the employee from receiving the vaccination, the employer must provide a reasonable accommodation for the religious belief, practice, or observance (unless it would pose an “undue hardship”).
  • If there is no way to provide a reasonable accommodation that would eliminate the direct threat, the employer can exclude the employee from the worksite.  However, this does not necessarily mean that the employer may terminate the employee.  Employers should explore other accommodations such as work-from-home arrangements or paid/unpaid leave for employees who must be excluded from the workplace.  The employer must determine if any other rights or requirements apply under federal, state, or local law. 
  • Employers may request proof of vaccination from employees.  However, employers should exercise caution in asking follow-up questions regarding the reason an employee has not been vaccinated.  This is because doing so could elicit information about a disability, and such inquiries are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act’s job-related and business necessity requirement. 

Employers are advised to follow the EEOC’s guidance on vaccinations in the workplace in order to ensure compliance with anti-discrimination laws regarding disabilities and religion.  For more information on COVID-19 safety requirements for California businesses, you may contact Minami Tamaki Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force members Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, or Claire Choo online or call us at 415-788-9000.

*The contents of this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or medical advice.  Information in this article may not constitute the most complete or up-to-date legal or other information.  Readers should contact a licensed California attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Minami Tamaki LLP.

Minami Tamaki Investigating Sportmix Pet Food Linked to Death and Illness of Dogs Across the U.S.

Minami Tamaki Investigating Sportmix Pet Food Linked to Death and Illness of Dogs Across the U.S.

Minami Tamaki is investigating Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. after numerous reports that dogs have become ill or died from eating the company’s Sportmix brand pet foods. The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has reported that at least 70 dogs have died after consuming Sportmix products.

The FDA has issued alerts to pet owners and veterinary professionals that Sportmix products may contain potentially fatal levels of aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are toxins produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus, which can grow on corn and other grains used as ingredients in pet foods. At high levels, aflatoxins can cause illness in animals and lead to their death.

Midwestern Pet Foods announced a recall of certain lots of Sportmix products on December 30, 2020. The company then expanded the recall on January 11, 2021, to include all pet foods containing corn and manufactured in the company’s Oklahoma plant with an expiration date on or before July 9, 2022. Products made in the Oklahoma plant have a date/lot code on the back of the bag that includes an “05.” 

The FDA has advised that pet owners should stop feeding their pets the recalled products and consult their veterinarian, especially if the pets are showing signs of illness. 

For more information on this investigation, you may contact Minami Tamaki Consumer and Employee Rights Group (CERG) members Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, and Claire Choo online or call us at 415-788-9000.

*The contents of this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or medical advice.  Information in this article may not constitute the most complete or up-to-date legal or other information.  Readers should contact a licensed California attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Minami Tamaki LLP.

Claire Y. Choo New President of San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association

Claire Y. Choo New President of San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association

Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Claire Y. Choo on January 1, 2021, began her one-year term as President of the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association (“SMCTLA”). Claire is the first attorney from Minami Tamaki LLP to serve as SMCTLA President.

Founded in 1967, SMCTLA is the leading professional organization for plaintiff’s attorneys in San Mateo County. In addition to serving as a network for members, SMCTLA provides professional advancement programs, events fostering relationships with the county’s judiciary and elected officials, and scholarships for students interested in careers in civil law or criminal justice.

As SMCTLA President, Claire sits on the Board of Directors of the Consumer Attorneys of California. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (“AABA”) and is an active member in several bar associations, including the American Association for Justice.

She continues Minami Tamaki’s tradition of leadership in bar associations. Associate Lisa P. Mak serves as Vice President/President-Elect of AABA. Partner Sean Tamura-Sato also serves on the AABA Board. Senior Counsel Dale Minami is a co-founder of AABA and of the Asian Pacific Bar of California. Partner Suhi Koizumi is a past president of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California. Partner Minette Kwok served as a Commissioner on the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization Immigration and Nationality Law. Associate Seema Bhatt serves on the board of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California. Other firm attorneys have served in numerous positions with various bar associations and legal organizations.

As an attorney in Minami Tamaki’s Consumer and Employee Rights Group, Claire represents clients in a wide range of cases, such as insurance bad faith, consumer fraud, catastrophic personal injuries, and aviation-related actions.

She has significant litigation experience in individual, class, and collective actions in state and federal courts across the country. Claire has also served as trial counsel in several cases. In 2016, she was second chair in an action against the State of California which resulted in a $9.5 million total verdict for a family who suffered the wrongful death of a family member.

Claire has been recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2013 to 2019. She was also recognized as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers in 2019.

Don Tamaki on Podcast with Dahlia Lithwick: ‘Truth, Reconciliation, and Korematsu v. US’

Don Tamaki on Podcast with Dahlia Lithwick: ‘Truth, Reconciliation, and Korematsu v. US’

Listen to the podcast here and read the transcript on slate.com.

Don Tamaki joined U.S. District Court Judge Edward M. Chen as guests on Dahlia Lithwick’s “Amicus” podcast to explore what lessons we can learn from history when the Justice Department has been complicit in a cover-up.

The incarceration of tens of thousands of Japanese Americans in the 1940s is one of the most shameful acts in American history. Judge Chen and Tamaki, members of the Korematsu legal team, discuss the overlooked context, corruption, and cover-up that enabled the policy, and to examine how the Supreme Court has yet to fully contend with the legacy of Korematsu v United States. They also unpack the lessons the case offers for the present moment.

Donald K. Tamaki is a Senior Counsel at Minami Tamaki LLP. Prior to January 1, 2021, he was the firm’s Managing Partner. In 2017, Don helped create the StopRepeatingHistory.org public awareness campaign dedicated to educating the public about the dangers of unbridled presidential overreach.

The campaign connected the dots between the hostility to Muslims, Arabs, and immigrants to the past discrimination against Chinese and Japanese Americans to help warn this country about the dangers demonizing marginalized groups presents to our democracy. The Stop Repeating History campaign is a project of the Minami Tamaki Yamauchi Kwok & Lee (MTYKL) Foundation.