The California trucking industry is one of many heavily scrutinized over its employee classification (or perhaps rather more aptly, employee misclassification). Many truck drivers are identified as independent contractors. Our Los Angeles employment attorneys know the obvious reason for that is trucking is a dangerous job. When truckers are considered “employees,” they must be paid overtime, given state-required breaks and workers’ compensation for injuries. Trucking companies can also be deemed vicariously liable in truck crashes involving negligent employee drivers versus, while they’d have to be found directly negligent in cases involving an independent contractor driver. L.A. employment lawyer

But now, two trucking contractors plus the California Trucking Association are suing the State of California over a mandated test trucking companies must take to ascertain whether a driver is an independent contractor or employee. In federal court, plaintiffs are seeking reversal of an employee-contractor test laid forth in the California Supreme Court in the case of Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles.

As Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, the state high court in that case adopted the so-called “ABC Test,” to figure out whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. That was in April.  Continue reading

Commercial trucking carrier J.B. Hunt has agreed to pay a $15 million settlement in an employment lawsuit over trucker pay, weeks after the original class of 11,000 was de-certified. Los Angeles wage dispute lawyers following the case recall the firm had sought intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing interstate drivers in California should be exempt from state law mandates on meal and rest breaks.Los Angeles wage dispute attorney

In Ortega v. J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., originally filed more than a decade ago, plaintiffs asserted the commercial trucking company failed to pay drivers in accordance with California wage-and-hour laws. Truck drivers in California (like all other employees) are entitled at minimum to receive 30-minute breaks for every 5 hours in which they work. It was the carrier’s position that a federal law passed in 1994 preempted this requirement by asserting that state statues couldn’t interfere with laws pertaining to interstate trucking.

Wage dispute lawyers in California know that the trucking industry lobbied hard – for years – to pass the Denham Amendment to that 1994 law, which would have effectively voided California’s law and any other state that attempted to pass one similar. Absent that amendment, states have the right to override this provision. The effect in California is that a truck driver over the course of an 11-hour shift would be required to take two, 30-minute breaks. Defendant in this case isn’t the only one to face scrutiny after workers alleged they also were denied state-mandated breaks from their employer. Continue reading

U.S. and California law provide very specific discrimination protections for employees who have historically been the greatest targets. Typically, these are women, racial minorities, older workers and those with disabilities. We’ve come a long way in the last 50- to- 60-years in ensuring California workers aren’t fired, demoted, transferred or miss out on key benefits because of prejudice by their employers. However, a key component of those protections is the worker’s classification. Those who are classified as “employees” are entitled to a host of employment law protections – everything from minimum wages and regular mandated breaks to reasonable accommodations if one one’s pregnancy requires restrictions. Los Angeles employment attorneys often have to explain another important protection denied independent contractors: Anti-discrimination laws. workplace discrimination Los Angeles

Approximately 1 in 7 jobs in America is classified as independent contractor or some other contingent-employment arrangement. This amounts to millions of Americans – roughly 14 percent in all, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – whose work as freelancers, consultants, temporary agency laborers and contractors who are denied protections against discrimination for their age, race, gender, religion and disability. So for instance, while most employees can expect to be protected from age discrimination from their employer when they reach the age of 40, a freelancer has no such guarantee.

There are some analyses that suggest the unprotected workforce could be even larger. For instance, the California-based Staffing Industry Analysts recently released information indicating roughly 30 percent of American workers could be counted in the “contingent workforce.” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission makes it clear that anti-discrimination statutes exempt independent contractors as well as those working for employment agencies. Sometimes, anti-discrimination protections depend on the number of employees a company has.  Continue reading

Rampant pregnancy discrimination in American has meant that expectant mothers in the workforce are denied pay raises or promotions, fired before they can take their maternity leave and sometimes, in physically demanding jobs, forced to work without accommodation, putting themselves and their babies’ lives at risk.Los Angeles pregnancy discrimination

In its review of thousands of pages of court and other public records involving female workers who alleged they had gone into premature labor, suffered miscarriage or, in one case, had a stillborn baby when their bosses refused their requests for assistance. Those requests often came with physician’s notes prescribing limitations on lifting, pulling and bending. The workers asked for help with things like pushing loaded carts or pulling large boxes or flipping over heavy mattresses. In a wide range of settings – grocery stores, prisons, restaurants, pharmaceutical companies, airports, hospitals and more.

Most are shocked to learn that very often, refusal to accommodate a pregnant woman is totally legal under federal law. Only a handful of states – California being one – have special provisions that offer additional protections to expectant mothers. California law holds that companies with five or more employees is bound by protections afforded to workers in the event of pregnancy, childbirth, pregnancy loss or related physical or mental conditions. These rights include accommodation and time off work, and employers can’t fire or otherwise discrimination someone for pregnancy, childbirth or related condition. Accommodations are outlined in the California Code of Regulations, and may include modification of work duties to be less strenuous, temporary transfer to less hazardous duties, longer and more frequent breaks, private lactation accommodations and more. Continue reading

The experience of being “fired,” “terminated” or “let go” from a job can be debasing, infuriating and depressing. Disagreement on the reasons for termination or fairness aren’t uncommon, and some may even justly feel a fair amount of resentment. But that alone isn’t enough to establish that such employment action amounted to “wrongful termination.” Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain that in fact, most employees in the state of California can be fired for any reason and it doesn’t have to be fair. However, workers should not be under the false impression that they have no legal protection from firing in all instances.Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer

Most employment arrangements in California fall into the “at-will” category. There is no labor contract, and usually, employers don’t need to have a good reason to fire someone. However, what employers cannot do is fire someone in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws, specifying protection based on:

  • Race
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Political Affiliation
  • Religion
  • Physical or mental disability
  • National origin
  • Pregnancy

If the decision to fire someone was based – even in part – on any of these factors, it may be considered wrongful termination, with the employee entitled to just compensation. So even if there were many other reasons for why a person was fired, if any one of these was more than a trivial factor, it could amount to wrongful termination.

A wrongful termination claim can also arise if an employee is targeted because he or she exercised rights granted by the law. For instance, the federal Family and Medical leave Act (FMLA) which guarantees three months’ job protection for employees who take a leave of absence for birth, adoption or serious illness. If a worker is fired because he or she availed themselves of this leave, that would be grounds to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. Continue reading

When news broke in 2014 that the much-beloved ’90s sitcom “Friends” would be re-released in its entirety on Netflix, fans were ecstatic. However, when they started actually watching those 10 seasons, many were struck by how unfriendly many of the story arcs and punchlines were to minorities, homosexuals and women. But perhaps what was most striking for many people was the fact that so much of America could be so blind to those undertones. This same sort of realization is apparent when we wonder why it was that so many prior to the #MeToo movement tolerate toxic workplaces for so long. Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys know we need look no further than that same set, where a former writers’ assistant filed a sexual and racial harassment claims. Warner Bros. fought back hard in Lyle v. Warner Bros. Television et al., ultimately backed by Hollywood’s top brass in an amicus brief filed with the California Supreme Court.Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers

What was especially interesting about this case was the fact that defendants actually didn’t deny much of what plaintiff alleged: Sexually coarse, vulgar and demeaning language, “off-color banter,” and even masturbatory gestures and doodles. All of this, however, they claimed was not impropriety and definitely not harassment. It was, rather, a necessary part of the creative writing process. In the amicus brief, filmmakers and executives argued that to decide the case in plaintiff’s favor would have had a chilling effect on free speech, and that writers needed to be free to share their darkest and most private thoughts without fearing legal reprisal.

In 2006, the California Supreme Court didn’t just dismiss plaintiff’s case; justices unanimously agreed with the argument of “creative necessity.” That is, those in creative careers have the right to demean women, even pretending to masturbate (so long as it wasn’t aimed at someone particular), and that individuals who choose to work on a creative team “should not be allowed to complain that some of the creativity was offensive.” Continue reading

Partisan tensions across the U.S. have gone from a long-simmer to near-boiling in recent months. Although most Americans define their politics as somewhere in the middle, an increasing number feel compelled to draw hard lines in the sand and publicly denounce or support certain candidates, policies or ideals. However, doing so could put you at odds with your employer. California employment attorneys have been fielding an uptick in queries on wrongful termination and just how far First Amendment free speech protections shield workers and their right to independent political views and expression.San Bernardino wrongful termination attorney blog

In an out-of-state case making headlines, a former city government employee has filed a discrimination lawsuit alleging he was fired because of his vocal support of the Republican president, which he expressed by wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat to work and in discussions with co-workers. He is asserting violation of his First Amendment free speech and Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights, as well as discrimination based on age (59) and race (white).

The short of it is that while employment retaliation for a worker’s political activity is not covered under federal anti-discrimination laws, California statute is more stringent. The Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from free speech infringement by the government. It does not extend this protection to the workforce. What’s more, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC means companies can freely endorse and campaign for political candidates and even try to influence a worker’s vote. They cannot, however, demand that you choose a certain candidate. Continue reading

Owners of Southern California Thai restaurants have been cited for  Los Angeles wage theft, allegedly depriving workers of more than $1 million in wages, according to state labor regulators. The companies are accused of failure to pay minimum wage (less than $5 hourly versus the state minimum of $11) and frequently requiring them to work 10 hour shift without ensuring each were granted state-mandated work breaks.wage theft attorney Los Angeles

Nearly two dozen workers at these restaurants – located in Baldwin Park, Arcadia and North Hollywood – reportedly were paid a flat rate of $50 for a standard 10- to 11.5-hour shift. The California Department of Industrial Relations, which began investigating the trio of restaurants in August of last year, reported at no time during these shifts were workers given the opportunity to eat a meal or sometimes even just sit down for a few minutes.

Unfortunately, as our Los Angeles wage theft attorneys are all too keenly aware, wage theft in Southern California is rampant. The state DIR reports there were more than 34,000 wage theft complaints just last year alone – but that is widely speculated to be a very low estimate. It’s not unreasonable to presume that for every case of California wage theft that’s reported, there are probably a dozen more than aren’t. This is especially true when we factor in undocumented workers, particularly since this White House has assumed power, with raids often targeting the least vulnerable rather than the companies that hire them. Continue reading

Educational institutions that receive federal funding – including colleges and universities – are bound by federal mandate (specifically, Title IX) to both report incidents of sexual violence and to track patterns of sexual assault, sexual misconduct and other behaviors that may result in a hostile working or educational environment for women – which impacts not only their physical safety and mental/ emotional health, but frequently their financial status and career prospects.sexual harassment attorney Los Angeles

Yet our L.A. sexual harassment attorneys have women on campus victimized time and again – students, adjunct professors, graduate assistants, tenured professors, deans. Universities not only fail to protect them, but in some cases further victimize them with poor policy and failure to follow the law, spurring more than a few California Title IX lawsuits in recent years.

The process by which higher education institutions handle these claims has come under scrutiny as the Trump administration and the U.S. Education Department, headed by Betsy DeVos, has proposed a new set of official policy rules on sexual assault and harassment. As The New York Times reported, if the rules become law, the result will be:

  • Narrower definition of sexual harassment;
  • School accountability allowable only when alleged conduct occurs on campus and only when formal complaints are filed first through proper authorities;
  • Heightened standard for legal standard that defines whether schools acted appropriately (no longer “preponderance of the evidence in determining suspension or expulsion, but rather the evidentiary standard of the school’s choice);
  • Compelling an informal mediation resolution process.

Meanwhile, more of these claims are filed almost every day. Continue reading

Those who suffer from mental illness, especially a severe one, may be no stranger to difficulties with employment. You should know, however, there are certain legal protections that prevent your employer from taking adverse action against you solely because of your condition. bipolar worker termination lawyer

One bail bond services company in Southern California discovered this recently, having settled a disability discrimination lawsuit for $110,000. The settlement was reached more than a year after the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed its complaint, asserting the company discriminated against the worker when it fired her without attempting to provide reasonable accommodation – as required by the law – when she requested a leave of absence to obtain medical attention for her untreated bipolar disorder. This, the EEOC alleged, was a violation of federal law – specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Continue reading