Gabriela D. Flowers is Senior Counsel in Lozano Smith's Sacramento office and is co-chair of the firm's Labor and Employment Practice Group. Ms. Flowers also specializes in the Student and Litigation aspects of education law. Ms. Flowers routinely assists clients through both Certificated and Classified discipline and dismissal procedures, as well as defending unfair labor practice charges. Her Labor & Employment practice also includes grievance processing, contract interpretation, employee leaves and responding to claims of discrimination filed with the DFEH, EEOC and DIR.
Ms. Flowers supports administrators and boards with matters concerning conflicts of interest, the Brown Act and the Public Records Act. In addition, she gives presentations on a variety of topics, including conflicts of interest, Form 700, the Brown Act and Board Governance.
Prior to joining Lozano Smith, Ms. Flowers worked as an attorney at a public entity law firm, where she gained experience in labor and employment issues facing school districts and county offices of education, including: employee discipline, collective bargaining, contract interpretation, grievance processing and unfair labor practices. Ms. Flowers also has experience in a variety of matters that affect the provision of public education, including: student rights and discipline, governance and special education.
Ms. Flowers earned her J.D. from University of California at Davis in 2010 and was recognized as a Public Service Law Program scholar. She received her B.A. in English from Santa Clara University (cum laude) and her B.S. in Political Science with a minor in Philosophy from Santa Clara University (cum laude), both in 2007.
Senate Bill (SB) 1412, which takes effect on January 1, 2019, builds on prior law limiting consideration of expunged, dismissed, or sealed convictions in hiring decisions. SB 1412 prevents employers from requiring job applicants to disclose certain criminal convictions that have been expunged, dismissed, sealed, or statutorily eradicated. SB 1412 also provides that employers may only consider particular expunged convictions that are enumerated in the law when makin...
Assembly Bill (AB) 2128, effective January 1, 2019, will allow evidence and testimony outside the current four-year time window when a certificated employee is accused of sexual misconduct with a student or minor.
Generally, Education Code section 44944 prohibits testimony, evidence, or a dismissal or suspension decision relating to matters that occurred more than four years before the date a permanent certificated employee is served with a notice of disciplinary...
Assembly Bill (AB) 2234, which becomes effective January 1, 2019, provides a comprehensive set of requirements for the presentation of testimony by minor witnesses at administrative disciplinary proceedings initiated under the egregious misconduct hearing process for permanent certificated employees, and for discipline hearings involving allegations of egregious misconduct for permanent classified employees of merit or non-merit system school districts. As a reminder, ...
California lawmakers have approved a budget trailer bill that imposes new obligations on public sector employers related to deducting union dues and fees from workers' paychecks. Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 866 on the same day the United States Supreme Court barred the collection of mandatory agency fees that cover unions' cost of providing services, which the Court deemed a violation of workers' First Amendment free speech rights. (See 2018 CNB No. 27...
This news brief is intended for public school districts, including community colleges. For the Janus news brief intended for municipalities and special districts, click here.
Overturning a longstanding precedent, the United States Supreme Court has held in Janus v. AFSCME that public employees may not be compelled to pay mandatory agency fees, or "fair share" fees, to public-sector unions, because such fees violate the First Amendment.
The Janus decision will hav...
The February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has inspired a groundswell of political activism at K-12 schools across the country. Lozano Smith previously reported on considerations and implications of student activism surrounding this issue. (See 2018 Client News Brief No. 7.) School districts must also consider if and how to regulate and respond to employee speech surrounding the gun control debate and other controversial topics. Additionally,...
In Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana (7th Cir., April 14, 2017, No. 15-1720) ___ F.3d ___ < http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/rssExec.pl?Submit =Display&Path=Y2017/
D04-04/C:15-1720:J:Wood:aut:T:fnOp:N:1942256:S:0>, a federal appeals court evaluated whether federal antidiscrimination laws protect an individual against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation under Title VII (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)). In a landmark decision, t...
Governor Jerry Brown considered several bills this legislative season that impact the rights of public employees and their employers. In this first part of a two-part series, Lozano Smith examines four new laws with the greatest potential impact on public employers in 2017, plus two major bills the Governor vetoed.
Assembly Bill (AB) 1918: County Offices of Education May Issue Temporary Certificates to Teachers Working in Nonpublic Schools while their Credential...
Effective April 1, 2016, California employers are subject to new regulations under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which prohibits workplace discrimination and harassment. The new regulations focus on changes in the following three areas: employer policies, training and dissemination of an employer's harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policy.
Employer Anti-Discrimination/Anti-Harassment/Anti-Retaliation Policies
On October 1, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 375, which creates a right to twelve weeks of differential pay for certificated employees who take maternity or paternity leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Until this bill, the CFRA only provided for an unpaid leave of absence for baby-bonding.
Effective January 1, 2016, AB 375 adds Education Code section 44977.5 which establishes the right to differential leave for up to twelve...
The California Court of Appeal recently held that an employee's inability to work with her supervisor due to stress and anxiety did not qualify as a disability protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
In 2010, Michaelin Higgins-Williams, a clinic assistant for Sutter Medical Foundation who had been diagnosed with adjustment disorder and anxiety, took an approved medical leave based on stress and anxiety caused by interactions with her manager. (...
In late September 2014, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 850, granting California community colleges the authority to award certain baccalaureate degrees. This brings California in line with twenty-one other states. The new legislation will be found in Education Code sections 78040, et seq.
Beginning January 1, 2015, the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges may establish a pilot baccalaureate degree program at no more than 15 community co...
In Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co. (June 26, 2014) __ Cal.4th __ 2014 WL 2883878, the California Supreme Court recently held that federal immigration law did not prevent unauthorized alien workers from bringing discrimination claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (Gov. Code, §§ 12940, et seq.), but did limit their ability to recover damages if they were unauthorized to work in the United States.
In 2003, Vicente Salas applied for a job with ...
On February 27, 2014, in Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District (9th Cir. 2014) __ F.3d __ 2014 WL 768797, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a school district administrator did not violate students' constitutional rights by requiring them to remove American flag clothing on Cinco de Mayo. The court's opinion primarily hinged upon: (1) the foreseeable threat of violence that day to the students wearing such apparel; and (2) the school's history ...
In Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (June 24, 2013) __ U.S. __ 2013 WL 3155220, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed that public higher education institutions may only consider race in admissions if the means of doing so is narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest. The Court also clarified that a reviewing court may defer to a higher education institution's good faith determination that a diverse student body is essential to its educational...
A recent decision of the California Court of Appeal has reinforced the notion that a reviewing court is required to give a strong presumption of correctness to decisions by the Commission on Professional Competence (Commission) in certificated employee dismissal cases. This case is important for school districts because it provides useful guidance when considering whether to appeal a Commission's decision.
In San Diego Unified School District v. Commission on Profess...