Articles Posted in employment attorney

Now that there is a vaccine for COVID-19, an increasingly common question our Los Angeles employment lawyers are getting is whether employers can make employees get one. Los Angeles employment lawyer

The short answer is: Yes (probably). However, there are some caveats, and not all the relevant legal issues are clear-cut in this situation. What’s more, whether workplaces will actually fire workers who refuse probably depends on the employee’s industry, specific job, etc.

Guidance released by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stated that employers can set forth a policy of mandatory vaccination if the need is job-related or if being unvaccinated would pose a direct risk to workers, customers or themselves. That’s an argument a whole lot of employers – from health care providers to grocery stores – could fairly make.

Still, there are likely two bases on which employees could object:

  • Potential exacerbation of an established medical condition or disability.
  • It goes against their sincerely-held religious beliefs.

Continue Reading ›

You can cut the corners of your sandwiches, but you can’t cut corners on employee meal breaks in California.

In a long-awaited decision, the California Supreme Court ruled that workplace policies of rounding out the start and end times of meal periods aren’t compliant with state law because they sometimes resulted in workers being underpaid their meal period premiums.Los Angeles employment lawyer

The court held in Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC that in cases where company records on their face appear to show noncompliance with meal period rules, there is a rebuttable presumption that the company was non-compliant. As our Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, this means the burden of proof shifts from the plaintiff employees to the defendant employer.

In light of this recent ruling, employers in California would be wise to update their timekeeping policies and technology to ensure they are meeting the current demands of the law. Employees who believe there has been a violation of California’s meal period laws should promptly consult with an experienced wage and hour lawyer. Continue Reading ›

California is widely recognized as having some of the strongest worker protections in the country. Recently, a California appellate court ruled that these wage and hour laws can be applied in some cases even for non-state residents working for a non-California employer – so long as the work was primarily done in California and work operations were based here. Los Angeles employment lawyer

The case, Gulf Offshore Logistics LLC v. Superior Court, was decided in December by California’s Second Appellate District, Division Six. Plaintiffs were members of a crew of offshore oil platforms for defendants on a boat that was docked exclusively in California for over six years. Administrative functions at the company took place at their headquarters in Louisiana, which was also where the vessel was registered. During the course of their assignments, plaintiffs were compelled to travel between state, federal and international waters.

The lawsuit alleged violation of California’s wage and hour laws – specifically those pertaining to minimum wage compensation, overtime compensation, meal and rest breaks, accurate record-keeping and providing workers with wage statements. Defendants sought a summary judgment not on the merits, but rather on grounds that the proper venue for the case was Louisiana, not California. (Louisiana’s laws would also be much less favorable to employees.) Continue Reading ›

Employment activists in California are funding an analysis by legal research and policy managers at UCLA Labor Center to ascertain how feasible it might be to pass laws requiring “just cause” for employee termination to replace “at will” employment – at least in some industries. New York state recently passed a law requiring fast food industry employers to have “just cause” before terminating employees – a major shift from the standard “at will” employment that gives employers the power to terminate any employee at any time – and for most reasons, so long as it isn’t discriminatory and retaliatory.employment lawyer

Requiring “just cause” could potentially shield workers from firings that are unfair, arbitrary or retaliatory. In the case of the New York law, fast food employers will have to have a good reason to fire a worker, prove it if the worker contests it and establish systems of progressive discipline for most terminations. There is hope (or fear, depending on your viewpoint) that this same type of law could be passed in cities with progressive worker protections, or possibly statewide in a place like California. Continue Reading ›

A number of new California employment laws will go into effect in January 2021. Employers should keep abreast of their responsibilities, while workers should maintain an understanding of their rights. Here, our Los Angeles employment attorneys break down some of the most impactful new measures pertaining to employee leave, pay, discrimination and classification.Los Angeles employment lawyer

AB 2399 – Paid Family Leave for Active Military Duty. This bill, signed in September and effective Jan. 1, 2020, extends the definition of Paid Family Leave under the state’s Unemployment Insurance Code to include coverage for active military members and their families. Previously, the state’s Paid Family Leave Program provides wage replacement benefits for workers who need to take time off to care for a seriously ill immediate family member or to bond with a new child right after birth or adoption. Now, the law allows for a qualifying exigency related to the active duty or call to active duty of one’s spouse, domestic partner, child or parent in the U.S. Armed Forces. Continue Reading ›

As we enter into the holiday season (no matter how different it may look this year than in year’s past), our Los Angeles employment lawyers decided this was a good time to review employer obligations for holiday pay, hours, time off requests and more.Los Angeles employment lawyer

The following are frequently asked questions pertaining to holiday work:

  • Is my employer required to give me time off for the holidays if I ask? Not in California. The only exception is a religious holiday accommodation (more on that later). Any time that you work on the weekend or a holiday will be treated the same as if you were working any other day. As noted by the California Department of Industrial Relations, your employer is under no obligation to give you paid holidays (though depending on the type of business, many do as an employment perk). Furthermore, your employer is not required to close its business on any holiday (though many do for select holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve and/or New Year’s Day). Continue Reading ›

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on workplaces across the country. Non-essential businesses were shuttered for weeks or months, workplace policies changed and many employers and employees alike have been affected somehow. wrongful termination lawyer

California employment lawsuits were prevalent enough even in better times, but the pandemic is what we call a “workplace agitator.” It’s something that impacts a wide swath of people in a negative way, contributing to the kind of economic and personal stress that can heighten underlying workplace tensions.

It’s no surprise then that many Los Angeles employment attorneys are noting an uptick in employment-related claims, especially because there may be newly-acquired legal rights or requirements that employers may potentially violate.

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 ›

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 U.S. Supreme Court ruled that some employees of religious schools, social service centers and hospitals will not be allowed to sue for employment discrimination, due to the ministerial exception. The 7-2 decision (with two liberal justices siding with the conservative majority) pointed to a unanimous ruling eight years ago that found “ministers” could not sue churches for employment discrimination. Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyer

But this ruling not only solidified that previous ruling, it expanded the protections these companies have against nondiscrimination litigation. The ministerial exception holds that the First Amendment protects churches and other religious organizations from government interference in employment decisions of “ministers” because, as Chief Justice John Roberts concluded, that would strip the church over control of those who personify its beliefs. But the question the court didn’t answer in 2012 was who, exactly, was a minister? Here, the majority decided that teachers are among those who can be considered”ministers,” in turn opening the door for countless other employees.

Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyers recognize that this was a significant blow to the hundreds of thousands of employees who work for these organizations (by some estimates, there are more than 300,000 private school teachers alone). Continue Reading ›

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