Wrongful termination in California goes beyond a firing that some think was unjustified. As our Los Angeles wrongful termination attorneys can explain, it refers to an employment agreement that’s ended by the employer in violation of the worker’s legal rights. It means that the reason for one’s firing was because of discriminatory reasons, in violation of the employment contract or in retaliation for the employee exercising his or her legal rights.

It’s important to point out that California is an at-will state, so companies can fire employees for any time without cause, reason or advance notice. In order for one’s firing to be considered wrongful termination, former employees need to show it was due to reasons expressly prohibited by state or federal law. Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney

The laws most commonly cited in wrongful termination cases include:

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Three restaurant companies based in Southern California will have to pay nearly $500,000 to settle claims that they systematically underpaid workers in violation of Los Angeles County’s minimum wage ordinance. The ordinance since 2016 has required companies in unincorporated Los Angeles County – regardless of size – to increase wages annually through each July through 2021, when it will be $15/hourly.L.A. wage theft lawyers

As our L.A. wage theft attorneys understand it, county investigators with the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs discovered the restaurant corporations underpaid nearly 100 workers going back at least three years. Although the companies were reportedly in compliance with state minimum mandatory wage laws, they did not comply with the local ordinance. A representative from one of the restaurants said it was a misunderstanding, as two of the 19 locations owned by the companies are technically located in unincorporated L.A. County, despite having mailing addresses in the incorporated municipalities. While the state minimum wage for workers was $12 or $13 hourly (depending on the size of the company), the county’s minimum wage was $14.25. When the mistake was discovered, the spokesman said the companies immediately moved to rectify it.

County investigators said whether it was an honest mistake or the motives were more insidious, employers have a responsibility to pay their employees fairly. When they do not, there are consequences. Continue Reading ›

Pinterest, a $21 billion company that markets mostly to women on its virtual pinboards, is accused by its former chief operating officer of rampant sexism, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination. She alleges she was fired for speaking out about disparate treatment between female and male top executives. Orange County gender discrimination lawyer

As The New York Times reports, the former COO says in her San Francisco Superior Court lawsuit that she was excluded out of key meetings, given professional feedback that was highly gendered and she was paid less than her male peers when she was first brought on. She learned the pay disparity after the company filed to go public last year. She talked about how decisions were often made in informal discussions among male colleagues; the “meeting after the meeting.” Despite being the No. 2 executive, she said she endured a culture of constant exclusion. When she ultimately spoke up about it, she said, she was dismissed (the dispute compared to a domestic squabble), maligned (told she wasn’t working collaboratively enough) and ultimately fired.

As our Orange County gender discrimination lawyers can explain, this type of discriminatory action in the upper echelons of corporate America may look slightly different than at other levels, particularly as it can be more subtle. But one thing our employment lawyers have noted no matter the pay grade is that workers who speak out about unfair treatment may find themselves may find themselves a target of demotion, loss of benefits or firing. This in itself is an illegal act called retaliation. Continue Reading ›

One increasingly common side effect of the COVID-19 is a virulent uptick in ageism. As a longtime L.A. employment lawyer, I’ve noted an uptick in ageist attitudes in the social media sphere that is undoubtedly pervading workplaces as well.

Research published in the journal Age and Ageing found that older people were misrepresented and undervalued in the public discourse surrounding the pandemic, and that some policies that may have purported to be “protective” of older populations were in fact patronizing and possibly illegal. L.A. age discrimination lawyer

The risk of serious coronavirus complications statistically increases with age, per the CDC. This may have prompted some employers to engage in age discrimination against older workers and prospective employees. Continue Reading ›

A restaurant owner and reality television star is facing a class action for California wage theft and meal break violations at the West Hollywood establishment. She and her husband/co-owner are accused of violating numerous state labor laws by failing to pay minimum wage or overtime, refusing to give employees pay stubs, not paying gratuities that were earned and not providing adequate breaks as required by law.Los Angeles wage theft attorney

According to E! News, the plaintiff (filing on behalf of herself and others) alleges that her employers at SUR failed to follow the law for at least one of the last four years. Plaintiff was employed at the upscale establishment for three months, ending in January. While there, she was a hostess, tasked with answering phones, confirming reservations and seating patrons.

This is the second labor lawsuit that has been filed against the owners of SUR in recent months. Late last year, another former employee filed their own class action lawsuit alleging California labor law violations. That worker, a non-exempt employee for three months, was employed not only at SUR but also at the owners’ other restaurants, Tom Tom and Pump Restaurant Lounge. He too alleges that for the last four years, workers were denied minimum wages and overtime, proper meal and rest breaks, accurate wage statements or pay stubs at the end of their employment. Continue Reading ›

In the first AB5 enforcement lawsuit over California wage and hour violations, the state labor commissioner alleges that a gig-economy car wash company in Southern California is breaking the law by misclassifying workers as independent contractors when in fact they are employees. It’s the same argument that has been made in numerous employment lawsuits against gig economy giants like Uber and Lyft. employee misclassification

As our Los Angeles employee misclassification attorneys can explain, this issue has become so problematic because employees who are wrongly classified as independent contractors lose out on a host of employment benefits, including minimum wages, overtime, health insurance, tax breaks and underpayment of things like Social Security, Medicare, etc.

The defendant in this action, MobilWash, uses an app to offer on-demand car wash and detailing services. Customers can order the services, pay for them and provide a tip all through their phone. Workers use their own vehicles and supplies, go to the customer’s vehicle and provide the cleaning services. They must purchase their own uniforms, insurance, cleaning equipment and supplies and gas. Workers are not reimbursed for travel time or business expenses – as they would be if they were employees. Further, the company charges a $2 transaction fee for every tip the workers receive, something the labor commissioner says is illegal.

Recently, the Orange County Register editorial board posited that if the arrangement wasn’t working for those involved, it wouldn’t be successful. The labor commissioner says that’s not a solid legal argument, and that if a worker puts in 10 hours daily for six days each week, they’re entitled to more than $1,500 in weekly wages (which includes minimum wage plus overtime), something they aren’t receiving. The board argued that such companies are never going to operate like traditional factories, with workers spending 10 consecutive hours daily, clocking in and out, when the whole concept of the service is being on-demand. Continue Reading ›

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court ruling in Judd v. Weinstein, reinstating actress Ashley Judd’s California sexual harassment lawsuit against one-time Hollywood power player, producer Harvey Weinstein. Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer

As our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers can explain, the complaint stems from a sexual harassment claim under California Civil Code section 51.9. This allows for claims of sexual harassment that occurs between people who have a business, service or professional relationship wherein the defendant holds himself/herself out to be able to help the plaintiff establish a business, service or professional relationship with defendant or third party. These can include doctors, lawyers, estate trustees, landlords, teachers, elected officials, lobbyists, directors/producers or any substantially similar relationship. In order to prevail in such a claim, plaintiff needs to show defendant made sexual advances, solicitations, requests, demands (or engaged in conduct of a sexual nature or hostile based on gender) and the plaintiff has or will suffer some economic loss as a result of that conduct.

Judd’s case appears to fit the bill, but a lower court had dismissed it, siding with Weinstein’s arguments, which were that the traditional power balance might be flipped in some scenarios and that there was not a professional relationship at the time of the alleged harassment. The question of whether the relationship between the two parties was an employment relationship outside the purview of that statute is a question for the trier of fact (the jury). The case was remanded for further consideration.

Recently, presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden unveiled a broad plan to confront systemic racism and promote racial equity. The former vice president’s Racial Equity Plan is part of a larger Build Back Better economic proposal. This newest element – support of the BE HEARD Act – addresses workplace inequalities that are known to disproportionately impact minorities.Los Angeles racial discrimination lawyer

BE HEARD (Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace), or H.R. 2148 has drawn praise from social justice advocates – yet earned the sharp ire of corporate interest groups. Essentially, it would (among other things) prohibit workplace harassment and discrimination under federal law – regardless of how many employees a company has – and require harassment training. It would further seek to address sexual harassment of tipped employees (a well-established problem) by requiring the cash wages paid to these workers be steadily increased until they meet the minimum wage for other workers.

As staunch regulatory critic Hans Bader wrote in the National Review, “(Under this plan), even the tiniest of employers would be saddled with unlimited legal liability for discrimination or harassment committed by an employee.” He added the law would alter the definition of sexual harassment in a way that would make small businesses vulnerable to liability for “trivial actions of their workers.”

As a longtime Los Angeles employment lawyer experienced in handling cases of racial discrimination and sexual harassment, I would note first that it’s a misconception that California employment lawsuits are or have ever been easy to win. Part of what this new law would do is establish a new liability standard for workplace harassment that “fulfills the Congressional intent” (as meticulously laid out in prior legislative action and case law) of providing broad protection from workplace discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth, a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth and sex stereotype), national origin, age, disability, genetic information and uniformed service status. Note the recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity – statuses that have protection in California, but not nationally. Continue Reading ›

As cities and schools across California and the U.S. are preparing to reopen, employers are requiring workers to return to in-person interactions – despite the fact that we are still in the grips of a global pandemic. Further, as Kaiser Health News reports, some employees are being compelled to sign a waiver of liability – agreeing not to sue their employer if they catch COVID-19 or suffer any injury from it while working there. In Irvine, CA, a teacher who refused to sign the waiver was fired within a week. “They said it was my choice to sign the paper, but it wasn’t really my choice. I felt so bullied.” Los Angeles employment lawyer

We encourage employees to discuss their concerns with a Los Angeles employment lawyer before signing any such waiver or if you have been fired as a result of refusing to sign one. Note that last year, California lawmakers passed AB-51, which bars employers from mandating workers or prospective employees sign away their right to pursue legal claims or benefits as a condition of employment. It also forbids employers from terminating any worker who refuses to sign it. That law is being challenged in court by a number of business interest groups, but for now, it stands.

Reports of employers requiring their workers to sign these liability waivers have been sporadic, probably because they know these agreements won’t hold up in court. In addition to AB-51, there is the fact that there is clearly a power imbalance between employers and employees/prospective workers – especially at a time when so many people are unemployed. Continue Reading ›

The coronavirus pandemic forced schools and businesses across the country to close, though education and work continued remotely where possible. That left a significant number of parents juggling the responsibilities of being an employee, as well as their child’s caretaker/teacher. Most companies recognized that with schools and day cares closed, they’d have to be flexible in understanding that employees may not be able to devote 100 percent of their attention to work during work hours. However, some of that understanding is waning. For example, Florida State University released communication indicating that beginning next month, the university will no longer allow workers to care for their children while they’re working remotely – an announcement made while COVID-19 cases in that state spiked five-fold. wrongful termination lawyer

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, a single mom with an 11-year-old son has filed an employment lawsuit after she was reportedly fired after being denied a request to flex two hours daily so she could focus on her son during the work day. The Washington Post reports the airline revenue management director was given the option of either taking leave or resigning. When she asked about the workplace protections available under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, her supervisor reportedly told her he was “well aware of the various new laws that you’ve had time to look up while at home.” Days later, she was fired, allegedly under the pretext of having a conflict with other workers, something she denies.

As our Orange County wrongful termination attorneys understand it, that is believed to be one of the first employment lawsuits filed under the FFCRA, the goal of which was to expand paid sick leave and family medical leave. Yet it’s probably a sign of things to come as working parents (mothers especially) try juggle employment responsibilities and family obligations. Some employment law attorneys anticipate an uptick in coronavirus-related litigation, once the courts are back in full swing, particularly among workers who have reportedly been denied leave or paid time off to manage child care. Continue Reading ›

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