Yvonne Ricardo
Yvonne Ricardo
Associate Attorney, San Diego, CA
  • B.A., Political Science, Political Science, University of California San Diego
  • J.D., University of San Diego School of Law

My relatives love to remind me of my favorite word as a child, “Bakit?” It’s the Tagalog word for “Why?” I questioned everything and followed every answer with another question until I was satisfied with the response. The law to me is what my young self was to my family–a challenge to my intelligence, eloquence, and reasoning.

I chose the law for the challenge and the fuel it provided to my competitive spirit, but what attracted me is the potential a legal career has to make an impact. Here at Stokes Wagner, I have the opportunity to help guide businesses within the hospitality industry through the maze of labor and employment laws. With clients scattered in different states and other clients in sectors other than hospitality, the work is as exciting as it is rewarding. The task is made even better because I have the privilege of working alongside mentors and colleagues who value genuine human interactions and are devoted to providing the best service to their clients.

Outside of the office, you’ll likely find me grappling on the mats, over-ordering in a new restaurant, or enjoying the company of my family and friends…or you may find me on top of a mountain or laying in the beach in a foreign country!

On September 17, 2020, Governor Newsom approved Senate Bill No. 1159, which creates a framework for COVID-19 related workers’ compensation claims. The new law adds Section 3212.88 to the California Labor Code and applies to employees of employers with 5 or more employees (other than first responders and certain health workers) who test positive during an outbreak at the employee’s specific place of employment. The law will remain effective until January 1, 2023.

The bill covers claims for an “injury” defined as illnesses or death resulting from COVID-19 if the following circumstances apply:

  1. The employee tests positive for COVID-19 within 14 days after a day that the employee performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction.
  2. The day referenced above on which the employee performed labor or services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction was on or after July 6, 2020. The date of injury is the last date the employee performed services at the employee’s place of employment at the employer’s direction prior to the positive test.
  3. The employee’s positive test occurred during a period of an “outbreak” at the employee’s specific place of employment.

A Disputable Presumption: Senate Bill No. 1159 created a disputable presumption that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment. The presumption may be controverted by evidence, and unless controverted, the appeals board is bound to find in accordance with the presumption.

Evidence that employers can utilize to controvert the presumption includes:

  • Evidence of measures in place to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19 in the employee’s place of employment.
  • Evidence of an employee’s nonoccupational risks of COVID-19 infection.

For injuries that occur on or after July 6, 2020, the claim administrator has 45 days to deny the claim, or else the injury is presumed compensable. After the 45 day period, the presumption of compensability is rebuttable only with evidence discovered subsequent to the applicable investigation period.

The Employer’s Reporting Requirements: SB 1159 requires employers to report to their claim administrator when the employer knows or reasonably should know that an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The report must be in writing via email or facsimile within three business days and include all of the following information:

  1. An employee tested positive, without disclosing personally identifiable information, unless the employee asserts the infection is work-related or has filed a claim.
  2. The date the employee tests positive, and the date the employee was tested.
  3. The specific address or addresses of the employee’s specific place of employment during the 14-day period prior to the positive test result.
  4. The highest number of employees who reported to work at the employee’s specific place of employment in the 45-day period prior to the last day the employee worked at each specific place of employment.

Benefits the Employee is Entitled To: Employees who are deemed to suffer an injury are entitled to full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity, and death benefits.

If an employee has paid sick leave benefits specifically available in response to COVID-19, those benefits shall be used and exhausted before any temporary disability benefits are due and payable. If an employee does not have those sick leave benefits, the employee shall be provided temporary disability benefits. There is no waiting period for temporary disability benefits.

The Law Applies to Pending Matters: This section cannot be used to reopen any final award of workers’ compensation but does apply to all pending matters unless otherwise specified.


Test: “Test” or “testing” refers to the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test or any other viral culture test approved by the FDA to detect the presence of viral RNA, which has the same or higher sensitivity and specificity as the PCR Test. “Test” or “testing” does not include serologic testing, also known as antibody testing.

Specific Place of Employment: A “specific place of employment” means the building, store, facility, or agricultural field where an employee performs work at the employer’s direction. It does not include the employee’s home or residence unless the employee provides home health care services to another individual at their home or residence.

Outbreak: An “outbreak” exists if within 14 calendar days one of the following occurs at a specific place of employment:

  1. 4 employees test positive, and the employer has 100 employees or fewer at a specific place of employment
  2. 4% of the employees who reported to the specific place of employment tests positive and the employer has more than 100 employees
  3. A specific place of employment is ordered to close by a local public health department, the State Department of Health, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or a school superintendent due to a risk of infection with COVID-19.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.


As children head back to school amidst the pandemic, sitting in class and learning is very different. Some students are participating in remote learning, and others are permitted to attend classes in-person. Some students have a mixture of both remote learning and in-person classes—posing new challenges to parents who must balance both work and family life. On August 27, 2020, The Department of Labor (“DOL”) provided additional guidance regarding the use of the Family First Corona Virus Response Act (“FFCRA”) leave for school-related purposes.

Parents with children who have schools operating on an alternate day or other hybrid-attendance basis, where students alternate days between attending school in person and participating in remote learning, are eligible to take FFCRA leave on the days when the child is not permitted to attend school in person and is required to engage in remote learning. The leave must be used to actually care for the child during that time, and only if no other suitable person is available to do so.

However, if the school provides the parent with the option to have the child attend in person or participate in remote learning, the parent is not eligible for FFCRA leave if they choose remote learning. The parent is ineligible for FFCRA leave because the child’s school is not “closed” due to COVID-19 related reasons and is open for the child to attend. Rather, the parent chose to have the child remain at home. Nevertheless, if because of COVID-19, the child is under a quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or self-quarantine, then the parent may be eligible to take paid leave to care for him or her.

Lastly, in the case where the child’s school reopens under a fully remote learning program, the parent is eligible to take FFCRA leave while the child’s school remains closed to-in person attendance. If the child’s school reopens, the availability of paid leave under the FFCRA will depend on the particulars of the school’s operations, as discussed above.

The Guidance is found on the list of “FAQs” at numbers 98 through 100.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.


Dine-in restaurants, brewpubs, breweries, bars, pubs, craft distilleries, and wineries that provide sit-down meals are permitted to open under Stage Two of Governor Newsom’s plan. In light of re-openings, California issued guidance to support a safe, clean environment for both workers and customers. The guidance (available in full here) recommends implementing a written, workplace-specific plan. To create a workplace-specific plan, employers should perform a comprehensive risk assessment of all work areas and designate a person at each establishment to implement the plan. After the initial implementation of the plan, employers should regularly reevaluate the establishment for compliance with the plan, investigate any COVID-19 illness, and determine whether work factors could have contributed to a risk of infection. Employers should then update the plan as needed.

As employers implement plans to create a safe environment for their workers, employees must be trained on COVID-19 prevention and safety. Training topics can include self-screening, the importance of staying home when exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, when to seek medical care, basic prevention measures and good hygiene, the importance of social distancing, and the proper use of face coverings.

The guidelines offer specific individual control and screening measures such as temperature and/or symptom screenings for all workers, self-screening at home that follows CDC guidelines, and use of protective equipment and gloves when necessary.

California also included cleaning and disinfecting protocols. High traffic areas such as customer waiting areas and lobbies, break rooms, lunch areas, and areas of ingress and egress should be frequently and thoroughly cleaned. Commonly used surfaces such as doors, door handles, crash bars, light switches, waiting area chairs, credit card terminals, receipt trays, phones, etc. should be frequently disinfected. Employees should also avoid sharing equipment unless equipment can be properly disinfected after each use.

Lastly, California included guidance on physical distancing. When dining-in, outdoor seating should be prioritized. Ideas for promoting outdoor seating includes expanding the outdoor seating space and offering alcohol in these areas when permitted by local laws and regulations. Restaurants should also encourage reservations to permit time to disinfect restaurant areas and to inform customers of physical distancing practices through reservation platforms. Restaurants may also consider rearranging seating areas to ensure physical distancing between workers and customers with physical partitions or visual cues. However, although dine-in restaurants are permitted to re-open, takeout and delivery service should be encouraged whenever possible.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.


With the amount of confirmed COVID-19 cases exponentially rising, the federal government has passed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (FFCRA or Act) to help during the crisis. The bill, which passed with broad bipartisan support, includes a division providing for emergency paid sick leave.

Employers with fewer than 500 employees are required to provide two weeks of paid sick leave to their employees. Full-time employees are entitled to 80-hours of paid sick leave, while part-time employees are entitled to paid sick leave equal to the average number of hours the employee works over a two-week period.

An employee qualifies for paid sick leave if they are unable to work because they are subject to quarantine or isolation as ordered by the federal, state, or local governments or by a health care provider, or if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis. Employees may also receive paid sick leave when they are caring for someone in quarantine or isolation. Employees with children in schools that have closed or that have child-care providers who are unavailable due to COVID-19 are also eligible for leave. Employees experiencing any other substantially similar conditions specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Labor are also entitled to sick leave.

Paid sick leave is calculated based on the employee’s regular rate of pay. However, paid sick leave is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate. The cap is $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for employees who use sick leave to take care of someone in isolation or quarantine, to care for children, or who are experiencing a substantially similar condition as set forth above.

Employers are required to post a notice prepared by the Secretary of Labor in conspicuous places on the premises. Such notice will be publicly available 7 days after the implementation of the Act. The Act does not require financial or other reimbursements to an employee upon the employee’s termination for unused paid sick time under this Act. The Act and its requirements expire on December 31, 2020. For more details on the FFCRA, refer to the Department of Labor website, and contact your Stokes Wagner attorney with any questions.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.

On January 14, 2020, the House Committee on Education and Labor voted to advance the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694). The act aims to eliminate discrimination and promote women’s health and security by allowing pregnant women to continue working without jeopardizing their pregnancy. Although the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disability Act provide some federal protections for pregnant workers, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will be the first federal law that explicitly guarantees all pregnant workers the right to reasonable accommodation.

The act ensures that both job applicants and current employees with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions are provided reasonable accommodations unless it would impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. The act also protects pregnant workers from the denial of employment opportunities, from retaliation for requesting a reasonable accommodation, or from forced leave when another reasonable accommodation is available.

Under the act, the rights and remedies available to pregnant workers are the same as those established under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which includes lost pay, compensatory damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Now, whether pregnant workers will be entitled to the rights under the act is up to the House.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) grants new rights to California consumers, took effect on January 1, 2020. In response, businesses must take on new obligations.

What new rights do consumers have? Consumers now have the right to know what personal information is collected, used, shared, or sold, as well as the right to request the deletion of this personal information from businesses and a business’s service provider. Further, consumers have the right to direct a business not to sell their personal information. Lastly, the CCPA prohibits businesses from discriminating against consumers for exercising their rights under the CCPA.

Which businesses does the CCPA affect? The CCPA applies to legal entities that are organized or operated for profit, do business in the State of California, collect consumers’ personal information, and satisfy one of the following thresholds: a) have annual revenues in excess of $25 million; b) annually buy, receive for commercial purposes, sell, or share consumer personal information of 50,000 or more consumers; or c) derive 50% or more of its annual revenue from selling consumer personal information.

What does this mean for businesses subject to the CCPA? Before collecting consumer information, businesses must notify consumers of what personal information is being collected and the purposes of the collection. Businesses must also provide a way for consumers to exercise their rights under the CCPA, such as a mechanism to submit requests for personal information, deletion, or to opt-out. A toll-free number or a website address will suffice. Businesses must then comply with any verifiable consumer request received.

Why should a business, as an employer, care? The CCPA necessitates the creation and implementation of a procedure to organize and collect data to timely respond to consumer requests as part of a businesses’ privacy practice. The CCPA explicitly requires that all individuals responsible for handling consumer inquiries about the business’s privacy practices are informed of the requirements under the CCPA and know how to direct consumers to exercise their rights under the CCPA. Thus, employers should train consumer-facing employees on the requirements of the CCPA, any newly implemented data collection procedures, and how to respond to consumer requests and inquiries.

For a printable PDF of this article, click here.