A California gender discrimination lawsuit against a prominent gaming company has been approved for settlement at $100 million, to be split (after legal costs) among 1,000 employees (current and former) employed by the firm in 2018. The deal was approved by the court following allegations of widespread sexism and gender-based harassment. It follows a previous $10 million proposed settlement in 2019 that the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing rejected as inadequate. (The agency estimated the company could easily owe female employees upwards of $400 million for misconduct.)Los Angeles gender discrimination lawyer

Plaintiffs in the case described a “toxic” on-the-job culture at Riot Games, a $1.6 billion tech firm with rampant “bro culture,” rife with harassment, sexism, and discrimination. In August 2018, gaming news site Kotaku published an expose detailing how problematic the company culture had become.

Some of the anecdotes detailed:

  • Female employees were described as “too punchy,” “not gamer enough,” “too emotional,” “too aggressive,” “too ambitious” or having “too much ego” to be leaders at the company.
  • Supervisors would ask female employees if it was tough to work there while “being so cute.”
  • Supervisors would comment in public meetings about how the husbands and kids of female employees must really miss them while they were at work.
  • The idea of a female worker fell flat during a meeting. A male colleague, skeptical of her claim of sexism, agreed to present the same idea in the same manner to the same group at another meeting a few days later. The reception this time around was that this idea was “amazing.”
  • Women alleged they worked jobs above their title and pay grade, believing they were being groomed for a promotion, only to have a male employee suddenly brought in to replace them.
  • Constant, unsolicited exposure to images of male genitalia displayed by male supervisors.
  • A female worker was accidentally CC’d on an internal group e-mail in which a male co-worker indicated he’d like to sleep with her and then never call her again.

Continue Reading ›

A fair share of California employment lawsuits stem from employers’ failure to pay fair wages – including minimum wage. As a Los Angeles employment lawyer, I can affirm that failure to pay the state’s minimum wage ends up costing employers far more in the long-run. This is why it’s important to point out that California’s minimum wage rates are about to increase. Los Angeles employment attorney minimum wage

As recently confirmed by the California Department of Finance, the state is increasing the minimum wage for all employers by 3.5 percent to 10 percent to keep pace with inflation. that means statewide, minimum wage is going to increase from $15 hourly for employers with 26-or-more employees (which was set January 1st, 2022) to $15.50 hourly, which will become effective January 1st, 2023.

It’s important to note that this is applicable to all employers regardless of size. That’s a notable deviation from previous California minimum wage increases, which had been separated by employers with 26 or more employees and those with 25 or fewer. That means this increase will be particularly impactful for smaller businesses, whose minimum wage was set to $14 hourly at the start of this year. They, just like larger companies, are going to be expected to increase the minimum wages to $15.50. For them, this is a 10 percent wage increase.

It should be noted, however, that with this increase in the state minimum wage also comes a corresponding raise in the minimum salary that is required for a work to be qualified as “exempt” under so-called “white collar exemptions.” (These are especially impactful when it comes time to paying time-and-a-half for overtime. Salaried employees are exempt from this, but as a Los Angeles employment attorney, I have seen far too many cases of employees being wrongly classified as exempt.) In order to be exempt, the employee must:

  • Perform specified duties in a particular manner.
  • Be paid a monthly salary that is no less than two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.
  • As of Jan. 1, 2023, to qualify for a white collar exemption requires the employee to earn an annual salary of $64,480 (or $1,240 weekly).
  • Employee spends more than 50 percent of their time performing exempt duties.
  • Salary of exempt employees is guaranteed, and cannot be reduced for quality or quantity of work.

The proof burden for establishing that employee should be classified as exempt is on the employer, as established in the 1999 ruling of Ramirez v. Yosemite Water Co. Continue Reading ›

Cancer is a condition protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law which offers certain protections against employer discrimination. If you’re fired after being diagnosed with cancer in Los Angeles, our employment lawyers are available to help answer your questions and determine your next step. cancer discrimination Los Angeles

Recently, a case of cancer discrimination was reported on by the Fresno Bee, which describes how a land acquisition and development firm is being sued by a former employee who says he was fired from the firm after a cancer diagnosis. The worker alleges he was discriminated against on the basis of his medical condition when he applied for a post at one of the company’s subsidiaries. Soon thereafter, he was fired from the job he held prior to receiving his diagnosis. Now, he alleges disability discrimination, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, wrongful termination, violation of state labor laws, and violation of his rights under the California Family Rights Act.

Plaintiff reportedly started working for the company in 2017 as a maintenance lead technician. He was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2021, at which time he began undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. His condition required that he be under the constant supervision of his doctors. Accommodations were initially made for him to take a leave of absence to undergo treatment. During that leave, he applied for a managerial position, for which he believed he was qualified and would have required less physically intensive work. Despite landing a phone interview for the role, his employer never actually called on the day of the interview. Plaintiff speculated this was because of his medical condition.

Per FMLA, plaintiff was eligible for medical leave until end of October 2021, but prior to that, his doctor extended his medical leave through the end of the year. The following month, his employer terminated him, effective mid-October. When he sought a meeting with his supervisors, he was told that he had to be fired, but that if circumstances changed, he *might* be able to be rehired.

The employer is seeking to have the matter resolved via arbitration. Continue Reading ›

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling last month limiting the California state worker protections law. Now, a group of lawyers say the SCOTUS got it wrong, and are imploring the court to hold a rehearing. They are characterizing the ruling in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana as a “gross misinterpretation.”Los Angeles employment lawyer

The attorneys represent the plaintiff in that case, a worker who sued her former employer through the Private Attorneys General Act, a statute that allows employees in California to pursue litigation against their employers on behalf of the state. The company had been late issuing her last paycheck after she quit her job, which she asserted was a violation of the state’s labor law. However, plaintiff and other similarly situated employees were bound by arbitration agreements. Thus, the employer defense argued, a PAGA claim would have been invalid. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the employer.

Lawyers for the plaintiff believe this was absolutely the wrong call, and want the court to grant a rehearing on the matter. However, as our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, such hearings are pretty rare. The majority of justices must agree in order to hold one, so it doesn’t happen often. On the other hand, what makes this case fairly unusual is that the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held since its founding that it lacks the authority and jurisdiction to issue rulings on matters of state law.

California law with respect to PAGA is pretty straightforward. Attorneys for the plaintiff in Moriana argue that the Court engaged in deliberations on the case without fully grasping what PAGA is and how it works.

The Court had held that PAGA was superseded by federal law that compels private disputes to be resolved through arbitration. The court also said that such claims could be divided into two: One by the individual, and another on behalf of other workers. The Court held that even if a worker could pursue a claim on behalf of other workers, that claim could be nullified if the employer had the right to force them into arbitration. Therefore, with one part of a PAGA claim invalid, the whole thing becomes null and void.

This concept of dividing a PAGA claim in two was a decision the Court apparently reached after oral argument. Neither side was able to respond to this until after the ruling was published. Lawyers for the plaintiff say the ruling represents a “completely new analysis,” with the splitting of PAGA not being a concept on which either party briefed the Court, argued on, or asked about. They say this action is the latest in a string of actions between the conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court and the progressive laws and policies of the State of California. Continue Reading ›

By now, everyone not living under a rock knows that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the federally-protected right to abortion that was afforded with the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade. In the most recent case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court held that states are now free to pass laws that outlaw abortions. Roe v. Wade employment lawyer California

As Los Angeles employment attorneys, we have been weighing the potential impact this might have on people in the workplace. The ripple effect isn’t yet clear, as this is a legal situation with a lot of uncertainty in the days ahead. Much of it may come down to the state where the worker is employed. (it’s generally the state where the employee works, not necessarily where the employer is based, that decides what state laws apply.) California state law protects the right to an abortion, and recent legislation also protects those in the state from essentially “aiding and abetting” abortion from individuals who cross state lines to obtain one.

But that doesn’t mean there may not be some impact to California workplaces as result of Roe being overturned. Some examples may include:

Lawyers for two large “gig” employers want California’s worker classification law declared unconstitutional by a federal appellate court, which they are lobbying to block its enforcement. Los Angeles employment lawyer

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is slated to hear arguments from attorneys for Uber and Postmates that that the state law that determines who is an “employee” and who is an “independent contractor” is irrational, treats similarly-situated workers and professions unfairly, and is discriminatory toward some tech-based employers like Uber, while exempting errand-based apps that use similar driver-courier models.

As our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, the law being targeted is A.B. 5. It is the provision under which a worker is considered an employee unless the hiring entity can prove it was an independent contractor relationship through the ABC test – a three-factor analysis that examines the control over which the hiring entity had over the worker. The California employee classification rule impacts thousands of workers in the so-called “gig economy.” Although they enjoy flexibility, they lack certain employer-covered legal protections, such as unemployment benefits, overtime, paid meal breaks, and workers’ compensation.

It’s unlikely that the Ninth Circuit’s final ruling will be the last word. Whatever the ultimate decision is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. That might be a smart gamble for the company’s especially, given the solidly conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court. The consensus by many California employment law attorneys is that deep-pocketed companies are essentially playing the long-game of establishing a virtual monopoly on taxiing services. Doing so gives them greater power to lobby for laws (including employment laws) that bend to their favor.

That’s why this case is one that states beyond California’s borders are watching closely. Its history is one that extends back a few years. Continue Reading ›

Our Los Angeles employment lawyers have been following the case of Grande v. Eisenhower Medical Center, which involves a dispute by a nurse against both a staffing agency (which hired her) and the staffing agency’s client (a medical center where she worked). The interesting thing about this case is that while the nurse had settled an employment class action lawsuit against the staffing agency, she continued pursuing a case against the medical center. Los Angeles employment lawyer

The medical center argued that this was not allowed because the prior class action settlement freed the staffing agency “and its agents” from future liability. However, the California Supreme Court has just ruled that the nurse may continue with her second class action lawsuit against the staffing agency’s client.

That ruling is noteworthy because it does not allow companies to sidle away from responsibility for labor law violations just by using a staffing agency.

According to court records, the plaintiff was employed by a nurse staffing agency who arranged for her to work at a hospital in Riverside. Wage and hour law violations at the hospital were what ultimately led to litigation. Continue Reading ›

A California misclassification lawsuit was recently settled for nearly $16 million. The case involved hundreds of franchisees for an Ohio-based tool company, which was accused of wrongly classifying employee distributors as independent contractors. The business model include selling the company’s tools at wholesale costs ,to be sold to consumers at retail prices. California employee misclassification lawyer

The class action litigation accused the employer of signing franchise agreements in California mobile stores. By wrongly classifying these entities as contractors, the employees were denied proper reimbursement for business expenses, paid overtime, meal and rest breaks, and accurate wage statements. The California labor lawsuit was filed last year, with the primary plaintiff alleging he worked approximately 20 hours of overtime weekly. The franchise agreement also reportedly required distributors to pay the tool company an initial fee, distribute only approved tools from the company’s brand using its own system, attend distributor training programs (while paying their own costs associated with this training), lease/purchase a branded truck from the company, wear the tool company’s branded uniforms, and operate their branded truck only within a company-identified territory.

Despite holding this tight control over the workers, the company insisted they were independent contractors. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California disagreed, recently approving a settlement in Fleming v. Matco Tools Corp. that grants each class member $35,000 in cash. Those eligible for debt relief may be entitled to approximately $42,000 each.

Employee v. Independent Contractor: What is the Difference in California?

There are many reasons why a company would have motivation to label a worker as an independent contractor versus an employee – most of them financial. While workers are entitled to minimum wages, overtime pay protections, travel reimbursement costs, and breaks, independent contractors are pretty much left to cover these things on their own. Companies don’t have to pay workers’ compensation insurance or unemployment insurance for independent contractors – but they do for employees.

Employees receive critical protections and benefits – which is why misclassification is such a big problem. California law skews heavily in favor of the presumption of an employee-employer relationship. Continue Reading ›

Immigration status discrimination, also sometimes referred to as citizenship discrimination or national origin discrimination, happens when an employer treats an employee or applicant differently based on their citizenship or immigration status. It can also occur when employers demand excessive documentation or specific documentation of prospective employees’ right to work in the U.S. People who are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, asylees, and refugees are legally protected against immigration status discrimination under federal law. immigration status attorney San Bernardino

Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement agreement with a fast food chain franchisee allegedly committing immigration status discrimination in Southern California. According to a DOJ news release, the franchisee in question owned four restaurants in Southern California. The investigation indicated the company discriminated against non-U.S. citizens during the hiring process when verifying their permission to work in the country.

Companies are not allowed to treat people differently in hiring, firing, recruitment, or referral for a fee because of either their citizenship status or national origin. Federal law (specifically 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(6) ) prohibits employers from discriminating against workers by demanding more documents than necessary – or specific documents – to prove their permission to work, immigration status, or national origin. Workers have the right to choose which valid, acceptable documents they want to provide when establishing their permission to work in the U.S.

This investigation was launched after a complaint from a prospective employee (native to another country) asserted the company refused to accept his valid documents proving his permission to work. The fast food franchise demanded he provide different documentation. The DOJ launched an investigation, and discovered the company routinely engaged in discrimination against non-U.S. residents. In particular, their discrimination was against lawful private residents. These individuals were reportedly refused employment until they provided an extensive (DOJ would say excessive and unnecessary) among of documentation.

All employers should be educated about the fact that the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision bars employers from requesting more records than necessary (or specifying the type of documents workers should present). Continue Reading ›

California workplace discrimination can be broadly explained as a job candidate or employee is treated unfavorably due to their age (if over 40), disability, genetic information, national origin, ethnicity, pregnancy, religion, race or skin color, or sex. Federal law make it illegal for employers to retaliate against applicants or employees who assert their right to be free of employment discrimination.Riverside employment attorney

Here, our Riverside workplace discrimination lawyers explain the basics of employment discrimination laws.

Title VII

One of the primary sources of our federal workplace anti-discrimination laws is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This statutes makes it unlawful to discriminate during hiring, discharge, referral, promotion, termination, or any other aspect of employment on the basis of color, race, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII is enforceable by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Title VII banned workplace discrimination against LGBT employees on the basis of their sexual orientation. (Prior to that, protections for LGBT workers was only specified in certain states, California being one of them.) Furthermore, federal subcontractors are required to implement affirmative actions to ensure equal employment opportunities regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, race, color, or religion. Continue Reading ›

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