This week at the Ninth: Offshore Occupation | Morrison & Foerster LLP – Left Coast Appeals

This week, the Ninth Circuit resolves a split between trial courts over the application of California labor laws to oil rigs on the outer continental shelf.

IAFETA MAUIA V. PETROCHEM INSULATION, INC.

The court ruled that California labor laws requiring meal and rest breaks do not apply to the outer continental shelf under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act because federal law already addresses these issues.

Panel: Judges Murguia, Christen and Lynn (ND Tex.), With Judge Christen writing the opinion.

Highlight: “The fact that federal law does not offer meal and rest protections as strong as those in California does not mean that there is a loophole in federal law or that federal law does not. not deal with meal and rest periods. The result we arrive at here is consistent with [the Supreme Court’s decision in] Parker drilling, which made it clear that state law plays only a limited role on the SCO. “

Background: Iafeta Mauia worked twelve hours as a scaffolding supervisor on oil rigs on the outer continental shelf off California. Her employer, Petrochem, offered a meal period after six hours and two rest periods per twelve hour shift. Mauia filed a lawsuit, alleging that the practices violated California labor law, which requires at least 30-minute meal breaks every five hours and 10 minutes of rest every four hours worked. Petrochem requested the rejection because, under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, state law only applies to the SCO to the extent that federal law has left a void. California labor law was therefore unenforceable, according to Petrochem, because federal fair labor standards law already dealt with meal and rest periods. The district court disagreed, saying the federal law was only about when breaks should be compensated as working time, and not whether employers should provide them. Recognizing that other first instance courts had reached a different result, the district court allowed the interlocutory appeal.

Result: The Ninth Circuit reversed. The Court first explained that OCSLA adopts state law on the outer continental shelf to the extent that it is “applicable and not inconsistent with.” . . Federal law. “Under the Supreme Court ruling in Parker Drilling Mgmt. Serves. against Newton, 139 S. Ct. 1881 (2019), “the question is whether federal law has ever addressed the relevant question; if so, state law dealing with the same issue would necessarily be inconsistent with existing federal law and cannot be enacted as a substitute federal law. Next, the court reviewed the FLSA’s implementing regulations, finding that “Federal law encourages, but does not require, that employers provide breaks” and “requires employers to compensate employees for all breaks that occur. are provided ”. Since these rules “expressly contemplate meal and rest periods, specify how and when these periods are to be compensated as working time and provide recourse to employees whose employers do not comply”, the Court held that “there is no state law to be fulfilled,” and therefore the California labor code provisions relied on by Mauia did not apply. “The fact that federal law does not offer meal and rest protections as strong as those in California does not mean that there is a loophole in federal law.” And it didn’t matter that there were no “direct federal counterparts” to the California rules, for the relevant inquiry is “whether federal law addresses the relevant issue, and not whether federal law addresses the issue. same way”.

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