It seems wherever there is a law to protect employees from harassment in the workplace, there is another law that harassers will try tosexual harassment exploit to silence their victims. State legislators are looking to tie up some of those loopholes to continue the momentum created by the #MeToo Movement. Their mission is to encourage employees to report wrongdoing without fear of repercussions and also give employers more freedom to side with and protect victims. 

AB-2770, introduced by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), would expand the information a former employer is allowed to disclose to a prospective employer to include sexual harassment allegations. Current law allows a prospective employer to ask a representative from the candidate’s previous place of employment if the company would re-hire that person if given the opportunity. The new bill would allow the former employer to cite, without malice, accusations of sexual harassment with credible evidence as the reason they would not hire back an employee. It also provides protection to employees from retaliatory defamation lawsuits in response to formal harassment accusations being filed. This would set a standard that would allow accusers and employers the freedom to discuss credible allegations more freely. Continue reading

We’ve heard all too many stories since the emergence of the #MeToo movement about women who wanted to come forward with theirwhistleblower attorneys accounts of workplace sexual misconduct, but their companies had created loopholes that made it nearly impossible or too risky to go public. One former Uber employee is kicking down some of those barriers and working alongside the California Assembly to make it happen.

The former Uber engineer drew national attention when she previously wrote a blog post about alleged sexual harassment and questionable practices within the company, according to Tech Crunch. Her courage to speak up led to the resignation of Uber’s then CEO last summer. Now the ex-employee is supporting a bill that will help women in situations like hers to be able to seek public legal action. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales Fletcher (D-San Diego) introduced AB-3080, a bill that addresses one of the major ways companies try to silence internal complaints: forced arbitration.

Continue reading

A bill labeled “Dignity in the Driver’s Seat” has been introduced in the California State Senate, taking aim at port trucking companies’ exploitation of workers and failure to pay up for affirmed violations. This bill would make retailers who work with offending trucking companies jointly liable for their actions. Previous efforts have taken aim solely at offending trucking companies, but so many of these violators are still operating – despite unpaid final judgments on their records. This proposal strikes at their bottom line.wage dispute

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced SB-1402 in an attempt to rein in current outstanding violations by port trucking companies as well as prevent future issues. The bill proposes creating a list of those trucking companies that have unpaid final judgments and distributing it to retailers. Retailers would then be issued a warning: Do business with any of the companies on the list, and you will have to pay in part for any future violations committed by that company.  Continue reading

They might share a name, hours, and overarching rules, but according to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California,employment attorneys  7-Eleven franchisees are not direct employees of 7-Eleven. In the original employment lawsuit complaint, filed by a group of four franchisees, plaintiffs pointed to 7-Eleven’s restrictive rules, alleging they were unable to run a truly independent franchise and therefore qualified them as employees of the parent company. But the court ruled plaintiffs did not sufficiently demonstrate an employee-employer relationship. Our employment attorneys experienced in wage and hour lawsuits know this could set a significant precedent for current and future cases involving franchises.

According to National Law Review, plaintiffs attempted to make a case based on a few factors:

  • The requirement that franchisees remain open 364 days a year for 24 hours a day.
  • 7-Eleven distributes payments to all employees.
  • 7-Eleven sets rules for pay practices, discipline, terminations, and performance appraisals.

Continue reading

Fair pay has been a long and hard fought battle, and it’s not over yet. For instance, the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau reported in 2015, the gender earnings ratio (women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s) for full-time, year-round workers was 79.6 percent (up from 60.2 percent in 1980). White, non-Hispanic women as well as Asian women out-earn Black and Hispanic women.

A bill recently introduced in the California State Senate, ifrace discrimination passed, will continue to push even further to equality. SB-1284 was recently introduced by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) with the intent of more closely monitoring pay data at companies with 100 or more employees, and theoretically keeping companies more accountable for disparate wages

The bill would establish an annual check-in in which California incorporated employers that fit the total employee requirements would submit a pay data report to the Department of Industrial Relations. The department operates within the Labor and Workforce Development Agency and is designed to “foster, promote, and develop the wage earners of California, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment.” The report submission period would happen every September beginning in 2019. Continue reading

A class-action lawsuit 10 years in the making has finally come to a close with the recent decision by the Equal Employmentdisability discrimination Opportunity Commission ordering the U.S. Postal Service to pay up to 130,000 former and current employees. At the heart of the lawsuit are allegations that USPS was using an internal program to systematically dismiss injured employees, and did so while claiming to be helping the workers.

According to an article from Government Executive, USPS’s National Reassessment Program treated certain workers unequally, disclosed medical information improperly, and did not provide reasonable accommodations (while also not proving undue burden as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 Section 101.8). The purported intent of the National Reassessment Program, which lasted from 2006 to 2011, was to create a path for employees to get back to work and eliminate busy work that did not support the major functions of the postal service. Continue reading

Internships can be one of the most beneficial learning experiences of a young person’s life, providing skills and experience employee misclassificationunattainable in any classroom. However, some are trying to argue that these benefits mean more interns should go without payment for their work.

The U.S. Labor Department recently released a new set of guidelines that relaxes the requirements around paid internships. According to a Los Angeles Times report, the new guidelines do keep intact a series of factors companies should use to determine whether they have to pay their interns or not, referred to as a primary beneficiary test. In other words, the test determines who benefits the most from the internship: the intern or the company. But now instead of using these factors as the standard by which to judge the employer’s final decision, the merits will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Continue reading

Californians have some of the best employee protections in the country. Our state has worked hard to establish fair wages, decent hours, and laws that are in the bestwage dispute interest of workers. Rules are put in place to discourage employers from overworking employees, and in situations where that is necessary, offering ample compensation. But that doesn’t mean employers will always play by the rules.

Two employees, on behalf of all other affected employees, filed a lawsuit in Superior Court of California, County of Fresno against L’Oréal USA on allegations the company did not fully pay overtime wages and did not provide proper meal breaks. More specifically, plaintiffs allege L’Oréal forced employees to clock out, and then would require them to stay for loss prevention inspections. These inspections were a mandatory part of the job and were performed during times when employees were no longer being paid for their time. When performed during a lunch, this meant employees were not receiving the full meal break as required by law.

In addition to performing inspections during people’s meal breaks, plaintiffs allege that the intense workload at L’Oréal caused them to sometimes miss meal breaks entirely or work through portions of their designated break time. According to the lawsuit, plaintiffs also claimed they were denied 10-minute rest breaks(required for every four hours on the clock) occasionally when the production schedule was especially tight. Continue reading

The story of Harvey Weinstein and the mass accusations against him of sexual misconduct has been in the news for almost six months, and in that time it has set the sexual harassmenttone for the #metoo movement and a wave of new sexual harassment policies bursting forth around the country. And now there’s potential for more people to be able to speak up again the former Hollywood producer. Weinstein Co. recently filed bankruptcy, with plans for a sale in the wings, while the board also released any non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) put into place between employees and Harvey Weinstein.

A former assistant of Weinstein has been sharing more about the NDAs as part of efforts to help curb workplace misconduct in the future, according to a report from Deadline. She told a UK parliamentary committee that employees were pressured into signing NDAs. She alleges vague threats made to her and others if they chose to speak out against alleged sexual violation committed by Weinstein. Part of why she agreed to sign the NDA, she said, was the inclusion of clauses that would keep Weinstein accountable for his actions in the future. However, she said that portion of the agreement was largely ignored. The assistant first broke her NDA last fall shortly after stories about Weinstein sparked conversations about whether non-disclosure agreements should be enforced against workers who suffered sexual harassment or exploitation. Continue reading

With the ever-expanding reach of technology, it feels to many like privacy is dwindling. This can be especially distressing when an employer tries to useemployee rights private information about you to take employment action.

There are more ways than ever for an employer to access information about you, but as our trusted employment attorneys know, companies are still limited in how they can use that information under the law. A recent article from The Business Journals delved into this very issue, unveiling different platforms on which employers can easily access your information.

Social media is, of course, the most obvious change in the way we share information over the past 15 years. It’s good common sense to be thoughtful about what you share about yourself, especially with so many new online outlets to post personal information with friends and family. You never know who might see one of your posts and share it with the wrong person. Plus, it’s not uncommon for an employer to scope out your online presence when you apply for a job.

They still cannot discriminate against you for any reason that is already protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, such as race, religion, or nation of origin. However, if you have a series of public statuses about how much you don’t like going to work or making fun of your previous bosses, don’t be surprised if you aren’t getting many bites from prospective employers. Continue reading