In pursuing a California wage & hour lawsuit, there may be several local, state, and federal regulations and laws under which claims may be brought. It’s not uncommon for employer defendants to try to argue dismissal of as many of those claims as possible on whatever grounds they can. Holding them to full account for each violation requires hiring an Orange County employment lawyer with extensive knowledge of the law and precedent, as well as a lengthy track record of success in similar cases. Orange County employment lawyer

Recently, a California appellate case underscored how claims may be filed under overlapping laws, with legal remedies available under each.

The case, Ayala v. U.S. Xpress Enterprises, Inc., was a class action case filed by drivers for a transportation firm whose services included cross-country truckload shipping. The plaintiff drivers allege the business wasn’t in compliance with California wage and hour laws because it paid employees by the length of the trip, versus how much time it took to make each trip. The company focused more on the approximate distance of each delivery, versus the actual hours drivers worked.

A recent decision by a California appellate court offers insight into how companies can comply with workplace seating requirements, as mandated by state labor law. In Meda v. AutoZone, the California Court of Appeals, Second District, Division Three, ruled that while these cases are inevitably going to be fact-intensive with numerous factors at issue, there is a measure of commonsense employers should employ when deciding when they can reasonably and meaningfully provide workers with seating. Los Angeles employment lawyer

The case in question was filed under the California Private Attorney General’s Act (PAGA), which allows private citizens to step in the shoes of the state’s attorney general in order to pursue legal action for violation of state labor law.

According to court records, the defendant retailer, an auto shop store, did not offer cashiers and parts counter workers with adequate seating when (according to plaintiffs) they easily could have. California requires companies to offer workers their seats that are suitable when the nature of the work reasonably permits it.

In response, the defendant store argued that it did offer two raised chairs (adequate in height to use the counter at those work stations), and these seats were available to all workers – plaintiff included.

Plaintiff, however, argued that while the chairs were placed in those locations, workers were given to understand they were only available as an accommodation (for pregnancy, disability, etc.), and that at no time did the company tell other workers that they were free to use these seats.

The trial court sided with the employer, finding that simply providing these chairs was adequate enough to meet the state law requirement on seating. Continue Reading ›

When it comes to enforcement of California’s AB5, the labor law intended to crack down on employee misclassification, private litigation may play a big role – particularly in the trucking sector. California employee misclassification

As our Los Angeles employee misclassification lawyers can explain, AB5 laid out very clear stipulations for who is an independent contractor versus who is an employee. This distinction matters because employees are entitled to a number of important benefits that independent contractors are not. These include things like minimum and overtime wages, meal and rest breaks, workers’ compensation coverage, and more.

For many years, employers have skirted their responsibilities to employees by improperly labeling them as “independent contractors” when in fact their duties and the degree of control exercised by the company more accurately denoted an employee-employer relationship. AB5 seeks to rectify this – but it’s not been without its controversies – particularly in the transportation sector. In previous legal challenges of the bill, the trucking industry had managed to avoid being lumped in with other companies where AB5 was concerned. However, that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling declining to hear an appeal on an appellate court ruling that paved the way for implementation of AB5 in the trucking sector.

FreightWaves reported recently on a TransForce webinar that examined a potential two-check system for trucking companies to be compliant with AB5: One that involves regulatory crackdowns directly from the California Division of Labor Enforcement Standards and the other that involves bottom-up enforcement in the form of private employment lawsuits filed under the state’s Private Attorney General Act. For those unfamiliar, this nearly 20-year-old statute gives employees the authority to sue their employers as a substitute for action by either a regulator or attorney general. In essence, private citizens are able to pursue the California employment law cases that neither the state’s attorney general nor regulators want to take up themselves. Continue Reading ›

In our work as longtime Los Angeles employment attorneys, we’ve become closely familiar with the types of business practices that land many employers in hot water when it comes to California employment law compliance. These include things like failure to implement easy/accurate timekeeping systems, not maintaining employment handbook and policies, failure to document everything, and brushing off the seriousness of employee complaints when they’re first made. Los Angeles employment lawyer

We represent employees and prospective employees when companies skirt labor laws and fail to respect workers’ civil rights on-the-job. Cases we commonly take on include claims of wage theft, employee misclassification, sexual harassment, discrimination (race, age, gender, religion, LGBTQ, nationality, ethnicity, disability, pregnancy, and other protected classes), wrongful termination and retaliation.

Employees who experience workplace discrimination rarely recognize the same red flags that our legal team does, so we’re highlighting a few of the more common issues here. Continue Reading ›

When considering whether to file a California employment lawsuit, one of the first questions raised is often, “How much does it cost to hire an employment lawyer?” employment attorney Los Angeles

There are a lot of factors that go into the final answer to this question, but it’s important to understand that at least at the outset of the case, you pay nothing. As outlined by the California Bar Association, attorneys fees for employment litigation are arranged on a contingency fee basis.

As a Los Angeles employment lawyer can explain, a contingency fee arrangement stems from a contractual agreement wherein the client agrees to pay the attorney a percentage of the proceeds from the case – if any.

You may have heard the phrase, “You pay nothing unless we win.” That refers to a contingency fee arrangement. The “nothing” referred to there is with regard to attorney’s fees. Depending on the circumstances, plaintiffs may still be responsible for certain things like witness fees, court fees, payments for copies, and some other expenses, regardless of the case outcome, but attorney’s fees are where the bulk of a plaintiff’s costs would be in a civil case. Waiving those fees in the event the case is not won serves on two fronts: It prevents attorneys from taking up frivolous (unlikely to win) claims, and it evens the accessibility playing field when it comes to taking strong claims to court.

Think about it: If a former fast food employee filing a wage theft claim had to pay the same upfront legal fees that the corporate defendant is likely paying, they’d never get their foot past the front door of the courthouse. Contingency fee arrangements provide strong incentives for plaintiff attorneys to level with prospective clients about the veracity and value of their potential case. Such arrangements also allow those less economically advantaged to have the same opportunity to seek justice as anyone else. Continue Reading ›

Despite the 2016 legalization of recreational cannabis use in California, it continues to be a sticking point where employment law is concerned. An increasing number of employers are turning a blind eye to what workers indulge in outside working hours (if only because good help is increasingly hard to find). But now, workers may have the benefit of state law on their side – if AB 2188 is passed.Los Angeles employment lawyer

As our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, there is currently little in the way to protect employees from job policies that prohibit off-the-clock marijuana use. Of course, on-the-clock intoxication is always going to be a big no-no, but proving cannabis intoxication is usually tough, given the length of time marijuana stays in the system/shows up in chemical testing. It’s not like alcohol, which quickly cycles through the body – making a high level of it in blood, breath, or urine samples a strong indicator of recent use/intoxication. Workers employed by companies that require drug testing may find themselves out-of-a-job – even if they never used the substance at work.

AB 2188 would amend the California Fair Employment and Housing Act’s section on employment discrimination, making it an illegal employment practice to discriminate against an employee or respective employee based on their use of cannabis outside of the workplace premises and working hours. The bill would make violation of this provision grounds for a civil employment lawsuit, with remedies similar to that of any other California employment discrimination claim.

Although the bill would add a layer of protection for workers, it would also shield employers who wish to maintain a drug-free work environment. AB 2188 would not protect workers from adverse employment action if they possessed, were impaired by, or used cannabis on-the-job or at the employer’s premises. Workers would not be free to take their weed to work, use it onsite, or show up to work impaired. Continue Reading ›

Several months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling specifying that federal courts could not make up procedural rules that favored arbitration by requiring plaintiffs to prove they were prejudiced (adversely impacted) by a defendant’s decision to compel arbitration after participating in litigation. In other words, as our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, companies being sued by a former worker for some employment-related wrongdoing cannot participate in litigation for several months and then turn around and try to move the case to arbitration. In the 9-0 ruling of Morgan v. Sundance, the SCOTUS held that an employer that delays the right to compel arbitration essentially forgoes it. Los Angeles employment lawyer arbitration

Now, a California employment lawsuit will be the first test that in a federal appeals court – specifically, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Armstrong v. Michaels Stores.

In Morgan v. Sundance, the justices overturned a ruling allowing a fast food franchise owner to push an employee’s wage and hour lawsuit into arbitration, despite having participated in litigation for eight months. Now, in the case of Armstrong v. Michaels, the Ninth Circuit is slated to decide whether a federal judge in San Francisco erroneously sent a California wage and hour lawsuit against her craft store employer into arbitration after both parties had engaged in 10 months of litigation.

Our Los Angeles employment lawyers know this case is being carefully watched because it is the first federal appeals court to consider the extent to which the Sundance decision limits companies’ ability to move lawsuits out of open court and into the private arbitration process.

The plaintiff argues that the Sundance ruling substantially alters the legal landscape in cases like these, directly impacting the circumstances under which companies effectively waive their right to arbitrate. The company had the ability to force arbitration early on in the case, but chose not to. The company then participated for nearly a year in litigation before flipping the script and demanding arbitration. She said the company’s delay did prejudice her by causing her to incur costs she otherwise would not have. Further, sending the case to arbitration at this juncture, she said, would force her to relitigate several issues on which she’d already been successful in court. (This, she opined, may have been the main reason the company was pushing for arbitration only now.) Continue Reading ›

Summer is the season for vacations. But as a Los Angeles employment lawyer, I see many mistakes employers make with regard to vacation policies. I’m referring not just to poorly-planned or problematic policies, but ones that may potentially run afoul of the law. Los Angeles employment lawyer

As the California Department of Industrial Relations points out, there is no law that requires employers to provide workers with vacation time – paid or unpaid. However, if the employer does have a vacation police, agreement, or practice to provide paid vacation, then there are certain restrictions that apply with regard to how the employer must implement it. (One might wonder, then, why employers provide it at all – and it comes down to the fact that it’s an expectation that many prospective employees have. Companies would have a tough time recruiting good workers if they offered no vacation time at all. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 90 percent of full-time employees in private industry receive some amount of paid vacation.)

As employees are cashing in this summer on their pre-scheduled vacation time, here are some things they – and their employers – should keep in mind.

Wage theft is a growing problem throughout the United States, and Southern California is no exception. Our Los Angeles employment lawyers are committed to helping clients recover damages when their employer fails to pay them fair wages under the law.Los Angeles employment lawyer wage theft

According to the Economic Policy Institute, more than $3 billion in wages was recovered for U.S. workers between 2017 and 2020. And those are only the cases we hear about and wherein recovery efforts were successful. Wage theft compounds the income disparity gap we are seeing broaden across the country. While the number of people with household weekly earnings below the poverty line rose to more than 65 million (a 28 percent increase just in 2020 alone), CEO pay rose by 20 percent that same year. Wage theft robs workers of their fairly earned pay.

Unfortunately, even when companies are ordered by the Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement to pay, many do not. For example, in San Diego County, the state agency has awarded millions of dollars to workers who were cheated out of fair wages over a period of a decade. But without adequate enforcement, only a fraction of those employers are actually compelled to pay anything. In the opinion of our Los Angeles employment lawyers, the law extends far too many loopholes, giving companies the ability to sidestep their legal responsibilities.

But this may not solely be the fault of the state’s labor division enforcement agency. Some opine that we need stronger anti-wage theft enforcement handed won by state lawmakers. While the Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement is required to hold a hearing within 120 days of a complaint of wage theft being filed, the actual wait in many cities closer to 1,000 days – or nearly 3 years.

For low-income families, this amounts to an extreme hardship. Consider this real-life scenario: Continue Reading ›

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 ›

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